How fit does a horse need to be to be safe on the field?

Okay this question primarily applies to a Hunter Pace, but the same organization that puts these on also regularly invites attendees to open hunts throughout the season. How fit does a horse need to be for a hunter pace, and or as a guest during a hunt?

Currently the horse that would be used is ridden 4 times a week, when it’s not soaking wet outside (two and half weeks straight of rain here in Florida, and we’re swimming at this point).

She has just gotten to the point in her training that she is able to withstand 4 30-45 minute workouts a week, but they aren’t super intensive, and she jumps rarely at this point.

I have been told there are “slow” options and also ride-arounds for all jumps.

My main concern is the person I’d be going with hasn’t ridden her horse since July due to him being injured. What is the likelihood of even getting him fit enough to do a single pace this season? We were looking for a January pace date, but I don’t think he’ll be ready, heck, I don’t even know for sure that mine will be ready.

Please note this is all SUPER new and just an interesting new endeavor to challenge myself and my horse with. I know VERY little about hunting or hunter paces, but would like to learn, so go easy on me.

If you’re talking about rides in Florida, I would guess that the terrain would be mild and not highly variable. So, you need to find out the distances and approximate speeds of the paces and build up to those levels.

You should be able to contact the organizers of the paces and find out about last year’s courses and results with no problem. October to January should be plenty of time to get the horses fit if you develop a plan and stick to it.

I agree with Huntin’Pony that you should have time to work on fitness before January. Call the organizers of the pace and find out how long the ride is and work on building up to that distance. The ones I’ve been on are about 8 miles. The paces I’ve done also have their checkpoint set up fairly close to the trailers in case you need to go in early.
As for hunting, call the hunt, one of the masters or staff should be able to tell you what to expect and whether their hilltoppers would be a good fit for you and your friend.

For paces: call the organizers.

For fitness for going out as a guest: call the secretary of the hunt.

You will have more control over how fast you go at a hunter pace, but it’s good to find out what the options are.

If a guest at a hunt, you are generally expected to keep up, so you need to ask what fields they have (on which days) and the distances they tend to cover. Some hunts only have a second field on certain days (usually weekends), and second field, depending on the hunt and the day, can vary from lots of standing and trotting with a bit of a canter now and then, to 18 miles in a day with lots of galloping, just no jumping. If you haven’t hunted before, I highly recommend leasing a made hunt horse for a hunt (or three) before you take out your own horse. Generally the owner of the horse will be with you to guide and mentor you, and you will get an idea of what to expect for that particular club.

Oh, and work on your own fitness too!! Everything will be much more enjoyable. :slight_smile:

It depends. Find out how long the pace is. The few that I’ve been at were pretty short and the ideal pace was a slow trot. I wouldn’t worry about fitness at all. But it depends… Someone above mentioned an 8 mile pace.

As for guest hunting, that another thing entirely. Some hunts are known for shorter days and an easy pace and others are a 4 hour steeplechase with rest stops. Talk to the organizer, or in case of the hunt, the secretary.