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Hunter Pace


The local hunt holds hunter paces once a month. They’re held in the same locations that they hunt in. I am interested in getting my horse involved and going out to our first hunter pace.

I know that it’s essentially cross country, but trying to do so in an optimum “secret” time.

The reason I’m asking here is, since it’s hosted by the local hunt, what do I need to do to not be frowned upon if I choose to go?

And what kind of conditioning does my horse need before she’s ready to go?

I know there are different speed and experience level divisions.
What do I wear? What does my mare wear?

Ask the hunt secretary or pace coordinator. Some are very casual, some prefer hunting attire. As for conditioning, the ideal pace is usually close to a good working trot but again that depends on who sets the pace. Distances vary. There are usually flat, low and high divisions. Expect 10-20 jumps. You will need a Coggins.

Ask! Most paces are schooling attire (or even costumes). It depends on how long the course is and what jumps you are doing, to your fitness level. It’s hard for me to say how fit your horse should be, because mine were always hunting fit. A good, optimum time course is a steady pace. We always went for fastest time in our hunt, so I needed my horses hot and fit. I was usually the time setter the day before the pace, and we did easy canter/trots to set the optimum. Having fun, being a good sport, and thinking about the welfare of your horse will give you big smiles and welcoming arms from any hunt.

I love hunter paces or paper chases. A lot of times you can choose your own pace. You can choose when you to jump or go around. A lot of places let you go with a group or go alone and ride with others. I personally think that your horse could be minimally fit and you could walk/trot the whole course and be fine in most cases. I take all my guys out before I hunt them or really before I event them as they can gain quite a bit of confidence going over solid obstacles with a group.

I go for an education and keep a good pace. I think I have won a few ribbons, but really out of surprise rather than out of trying lol.

As for attire I usually ask, like others have mentioned, or I wear a polo with breeches. Usually it is casual in most cases. My horses dress as if we were schooling. Poly pad, boots, clean but not dressed up. For the halloween ones though I am decked out in some type of costume.

Our last one had 41 jumps and was about 10 miles long. The optimum time turned out to be equal to going at the appropriate pace for the terrain, cantering in the fields, trotting down hills and uneven terrain, and walking on roads and rocky spots. In our area, just clean pants, boots and a nice polo shirt is fine. I wear my XC vest, but I jump all the jumps and like to play it safe. For your horse, just well groomed and conservative tack. Leg protection for all legs, no polos. Hunter paces are so much fun!

Hunter paces vary quite a bit. It’s best to ask the secretary about what to expect. Here in VA there are hunter paces and then there are pairs races (which are listed as paces). The hunter paces are much more casual whereas the pairs races are much faster paces, think a lot of gallop to make the optimum time.

They vary based on the organization that is sponsoring them. The hunts sponsor paces that are typically faster than the trail clubs. If formal attire is required, it is usually on the flyer or website. But if they are not formal, then you can’t go wrong by wearing neat, clean schooling attire (ie, breeches, boots and a polo shirt).

Paces can vary as far as speed and distance, but if you and your horse can do a solid working trot with a few gallop sessions for an hour and a half or so, then you’re both probably fit enough. Most of the time you are doing that working trot around the trails and over the jumps, then hand galloping out in the open fields.

And don’t forget to bring a tailgate picnic for afterwards !

If it’s the paces at Misty Morning Hounds you don’t have to do anything but show up. We have some folks come who are serious about schooling for xc, and we have others who just want to ride at a beautiful property and enjoy the day with their horses and friends. All are welcome:)
Your best bet for any questions is to email mmhounds@aol.com, put pace in the subject line.

Here is info for the last hunter pace with MMH - to get an idea what they offer: http://mistymorninghounds.com/documents/halloween.pdf

I did a couple of hunter paces with them years ago. A lot of fun. I did the 5 mile pasture fit flat on a young horse and mostly walked and trotted. I wasn’t there for a ribbon, but it was fun to get one in the mail. And I did the jumping with my jumper. That was fun too. Some interesting/creative jumps.