Hunt curious

I’ve been riding for 35 years, give or take, and have tried all sorts of things at least once — h/j, polo, dressage, even a little bit of reining. My main discipline is eventing, and while I have ridden at higher levels, I’m currently competing at training. But I have never hunted! I’m curious what skills I’d need to develop to give it a try. I’m a reasonably confident rider, comfortable jumping 3’3 with decent spreads out of a 450-470 meter/minute pace. I ride in the open regularly, but rarely in company. My horse is probably not well suited to hunting so if I were to give this a try, I’d look to hire an experienced horse to show me the ropes. What would I need to consider to be prepared?

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Where are you located? You’re more than qualified to ride most first fields, I would say, especially if you hire a horse. A good hunt horse will take care of you, they don’t generally like a lot of over management.

Gross generalization, and I’ve never hunted Ireland or GB, but generally the size of fences and the risk taking is a bit less in most of the hunts in the states. Research your local hunts, ask who’s hiring horses, research any hunt habit particularities and open dates, and get out there :slight_smile:

I’ve hunted in the NE and SE US, and if someone with Eventing background, I’d say the only thing I really felt unprepared, for I was turning down drinks as I like to ride sober :joy:


The thing with hunting is you are not riding over a prepared course. That means approaches to jumps can be tricky and trappy. Things you don’t see on an event course. Depending on the hunt, jumps typically don’t get bigger than a training level. It’s about the approach and the landing.

Also you have other people and hounds about. A few hunts ago, we were on a run and coming to a coop when some hounds popped out of the woods about a stride out from the coop. My horse shifted over and still jumped with hounds alongside.

The other thing with hunting can be terrain. We hunt mountains and the terrain we are often on is far steeper than anything you will ever find on a event course.

Speed is something you would adapt to. 470 m/m is 17.5 MPH. The horse I take hunting second flight (3rd year of hunting) has been running at times 19 MPH in second flight. My first flight horse goes up to 24-25 MPH. Granted these are short bursts of a couple of hundred yards but its over terrain that includes rocks and roots. This is more a mental issue for the rider versus the horse.

Last is your fitness. Consider how long can you trot/canter/gallop?

But definitely come try it? I’ve evented my hunt horses and it makes XC much easier.


It will improve your eventing skills because hunting is like xc but without the careful ground preparation. You certainly have the rider skill set already but hiring a hunter is a good idea: if in doubt, leave it to the experienced horse. Then when you have become hooked on hunting, take your young horses out and they will learn to be forward and will develop that legendary fifth leg.

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I currently ride third field after rotator cuff surgery with a delightful young woman who is new to hunting. Her background is h/j. Her comments are interesting on the difference between the two disciplines. Her main point is that hunting is unpredictable. One cannot count strides, know which obstacle is next, or the kind of obstacle ahead: coop, fallen tree, a fun set of cavetti someone took the time to build in the middle of the woods.

Only last week she asked for the opportunity to ride one of my hunters. I explained that I would be riding “Steady Eddy” as my shoulder right now can’t take a lot of pulling. She said she was willing to ride my young horse. He’s been hunted for 7 seasons and knows the drill. She said she really enjoyed herself and asked for him next hunt too. Both my hunt horses know where the obstacles are (my Steady Eddy has been hunting 20 seasons), they know the expectation (move off the trail and turn to face anyone riding past in a red coat), give way to hounds, and (most importantly) stand absolutely still at checks (hard to pass a flask from one moving horse to another). They also know which members carry horse cookies and hit them up with a gentle nuzzle when possible. In other words, an experienced horse makes hunting fun.

Two DD hunted their eventers. I found them to be a little more edgy than what I like to ride, but do-able. Maybe more for the younger hunters who like a challenge. I am 70.


Thanks for this. I’m comfortable at a (considerably) faster pace galloping in the open, but it’s been a long time since I’ve jumped out of 520 and I never really did much beyond that. It sounds like that is something I could work on in an XC schooling setting, though not incorporating the less predictable footing and approaches.

As for my endurance, it will be interesting to see! I often ride for 3 or 4 hours, but on 3 or 4 different horses — so with breaks in between!

I’m also accustomed to terrain (my current hacking overlaps with the hunt territory in my area and is in a generally hilly area) but not to riding through it, especially downhill, at much more than a trot or steady canter. How would you approach preparing a rider for this aspect of hunting?

Do you or others have suggestions for how to develop the necessary skills for the unpredictability of terrain, approach and departure, and the presence of other horses and riders? I appreciate that these will be big differences from eventing; are there things you recommend to new riders before experiencing them in the hunt field, or are they things that one learns best by simply getting out there and doing?

I suggest contacting ur local hunt, arranging to ride a solid hunt horse, ride with some one who knows what is going on, then enjoy your day. Hunt clubs exist to provide fun and sport to the members. Once u see what’s going on, you can make ur own plan.


In order to get used to the terrain of the hunt territory see if the local hunts do trail rides or hunter paces.

Where are you based?


You’re overthinking this is a bit, imo :wink: The best way to prepare, aside from basic riding skill, is to get behind an experienced field, on an experienced horse, and just do it! Trust that horse to find distances and just enjoy. Almost all obstacles have go arounds. If you’re really worried, ask to go out on hound exercise days and you can ask all the questions you like abs get a feel for how the hunt moves on a smaller scale with less energy.

Trail riding is great, so are hunter paces, you’ll learn to read ground conditions and anticipate what you’re landing on the other side, but there is no substitute to feeling you and your horse’s blood go up as the hounds really dig into a scent!


Posted this before (a few times) should give OP and idea of what happens at Battle Creek Hunt in Michigan. (I am the rider in the black coat on the brown horse --joke --we all dress the same.)


This is beautiful, it really captures the vibe. I love that you include the quieter moments, the conversations, the social aspect…a lot of people just make a master cut of all the action. Gorgeous music!

Thank you, @MadTrotter! The video was made by Midwest Photographics --Steve Toepp is the member who can do amazing things with cameras including manage a drone with a camera from his horse. He’s the fellow with the selfie stick going over fences. He did the video --it is more than one hunt edited together --members would never go coat-less at The Blessing of the Hounds --he has more video footage of the hunt on YouTube --just search for Battle Creek Hunt. Cheers!

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I love the video and the Black Beauty music.