What is a hunter pace?

The simple answer, a hunter pace is an enjoyable trail ride with family and friends, on a marked course, in teams of 2 or 3, in an ideal time. Some history; before trucks and trailers, a fox hunter would hack from home to the hunt grounds. If they went too fast, they would tire their horse and if they went to slow, they wouldn’t make it on time. The rider would need to have that “ideal” time to arrive with some spare time, and a horse warmed up and ready to hunt.

The hunter pace we have today is on a marked course, generally 3-5 miles, and based on an ideal time. The “ideal” time will vary among hunter paces depending on what the organizers have decided, although the general pace is close to the same. It is up to each team to try to get as close to the ideal time as possible, fast or slow.

Are there different levels?

There are 2 or 3 divisions, Jumping, Non Jumping (hilltoppers) and some hunter paces offer the Trail Riding Division. Not everyone on the same team needs to have the same riding expertise.

Jumping Division:

Jumping will be the fastest of the 3, as the teams will be expected to jump and will be moving at a faster more forward pace, with more cantering.

Non Jumping Division (Hilltoppers):

This pace will be slower because some or all of the riders will take the time to go around some or all of the jumps. They will usually do a lot of trotting and cantering.

Trail Riders Division:

This will be the slowest time. The riders will have a more leisurely pace with more walking and trotting, and less cantering. The riders may still jump all or some of the jumps.

What happens at a hunter pace?

Arrive and come over to the registration table, fill out your entry form, all riders must sign a release, pay your money, and get your team number and a ride time.  (You can save time by printing the forms and bring them with you already filled out. They are available on the Event Details tab, under forms).

Tack up and ride to the starter and let them know you are ready. (There will be a warm up area with jumps).  

Go enjoy a beautiful ride!

What is the goal?

To be closest to the ideal time. You can be faster or slower, but as close as possible to the ideal time. Although the most important goal is to have fun.

How will I know where to go on the trails?

As hunter pacers ourselves, our course will be marked extremely well, and maps will be available. All of our trails are wide enough for a large tractor to get through. There will be arrows that will be easily seen, and tape between posts and trees to mark where you will need to go. Some jumps will have the way around right beside it and others will have a nearby trail to get around that will be clearly marked non-jumping. Any separate trails are very close and you will still see each other. Our goal is for you to have fun, stay safe, and not have to carry a compass and have extensive knowledge in land navigation just to complete the course.

How is it timed?

The ideal time will be based on a meters per minute time for each division. It will start and end close to the same place. We will send out teams every 3 minutes. The starter will get your number and will let you know when you have 3 minutes until your ride time. The starter will let you know you have a minute left, then 30 seconds, then count you down from 5 seconds. Your time will start when the starter says “go”, not when you go through the start flags. Your finish time will be recorded when the last horse and rider on your team goes through the finish flags. So if you’re on a team with Fast Frank and Slow Susie, then Slow Susie will determine your finish time, not when Fast Frank comes galloping through the finish flags.

Is it only for English Riders?

Of course not!! That would be boring. It’s for English, Western, Side Saddle, McClellan, Australian, Riders of Rohan, whatever you want as long as you have a saddle.

Is it for a certain type of horse?

Absolutely not!! All breeds are welcome. TB, QH, Appaloosa, Arabian, PasoFino, Paint, Donkey, Mule, Warmblood, Cold Blood, POA, POS, Zebra, Unicorn, Centaur, or Pegasus. Yes, they can all come!!!

What do I wear?

We require you to wear a helmet and boots with heels. Other than that, it’s up to you. However, we do require some kind of clothing, no naked riding please, and be respectful, nothing offensive. There is no dress code, but we are giving a prize for the best dressed team. That does not necessarily mean formal, it will be whatever we decide we like that day.

Do I have to jump?

Only if you do the Jumping Division. And if you do, please try to give it your best effort to get over the jumps. After a couple of attempts and refusals, you may then choose to go around. For the Non Jumping and Trail Riders Divisions, you don’t have to jump at all. All or some of your team may go around all or some of the jumps. Every jump will have an easy and safe way around. Our jumps are mostly natural. We are planning on having the largest jump, that must be jumped, only be 2’3”, although at some jumps there will be larger options for the brave.

Do you have to be a Fox Hunter to do a hunter pace?

Nope!! You can be a deer hunter, duck hunter, house hunter, job hunter, or no hunter at all. Anyone with a horse can ride in a hunter pace.

Are there rules?

Of course!! There are rules to everything. The rules are pretty simple and outlined under the Event Details tab, under “rules”. There is etiquette to follow to keep everyone safe and happy. If you catch up to another team, please say hello and request to pass. Slow to a walk to pass, and after passing, get ahead a little bit before taking off to make it easier on the team left behind. If you are being passed, please stop, move off the side of the trail, if possible, try to stand still or slow down as much as possible and please don’t point your horse’s behind at the passing team.  Please don’t follow another team closely without passing. Be mindful of other riders and you can lend a hand to anyone having trouble. This is not the time to bring a horse that is known for “blowing up”, but keep in mind, someone can be riding a horse that is normally well behaved, but has decided that this is the day they will lose their mind (we’ve all been there). Please stay on course, respect the landowners, stay on the marked path and jump only the marked jumps.

What if I don’t have a team but I want to ride?

Come by yourself anyway, there are always teams of two that will be happy to let you join. Please call or email us and let us know you will be needing a team and we will try to set something up before you arrive. Also, that day, if for any reason your partner is unable to ride, we will try to find you a team to ride with. We certainly know the unexpected can happen. As avid hunter pacers ourselves, there has been many times we have rode with the “extra” team member.