What is a Hunter Pace?
Spanning the warm weather months, hunter pace season runs from April to November.
Hunter paces are low-key competitive riding events that originate from foxhunting. Teams of 2-4 ride together through a marked course that typically covers 4-12 miles. Trail terrain ranges from open country fields, wooded trails, water crossings, road crossings, up hills and down hills with optional jumps spread throughout. Riders walk, trot, canter and gallop to navigate the course. Typically 50-150 riders and their horses show up to ride.
Prior to the event, the pace time is set by a member of the hunt club or the event organizer, by riding the course at the standard of the various flights.
*Read MRC’s Blog Post on Foxhunting for more information on hunting.
- Open/Hunt - Competitive, advanced ride at a speed comparable to first flight in a hunt.
- Novice/Hilltopper - Confident intermediate riders wanting to ride at a slower pace or training their greener horses. The pace is mostly leisurely, avoiding jumps.
Depending on the hunter pace’s territory, the number of jumps can range from 10 to 100 on a ride that typically takes 1.5 to 2.5 hours to complete. Jump obstacles include coops, logs, ditches, fences, gates, stonewalls, water elements and hedges and are always optional with go-arounds marked.
Note: the more go-arounds you do, the slower your time is.
The primary goal is to have a wonderful ride through the beautiful countryside in the company of MRC members and fellow equestrians. For our competitive riders, the goal is to match the time set by the event organizer without exceeding it by riding too fast. Typically it is better to be slightly behind ideal time than to exceed it, which sometimes disqualifies you.
What's included when you book with MRC:
- A horse to ride
- Your entry fees and registration
- A team to ride with
All of our riders are given pre-ride mentoring to ensure they are prepared and well-informed about the type of riding that takes place on a hunter pace. This mentoring includes how to look after your teammates, how to properly pass other riders, what to do if someone falls off and how to approach different types of terrain.
Riders are paired with horses suited to their level and ambition. The horses are leased to MRC by our select partners who train their horses from this type of riding. It is each riders responsibility to ensure their horse is protected during the ride by ensuring proper walking breaks, looking out for unsafe footing and controlling speed.
Each team of riders is matched based on a variety of factors to ensure a fun and safe experience for all. If you are looking to attend your first hunter pace we ask that you attend a Bedford Hack or Hunter Pace Evaluation first.
We also suggest a uniform for the day so all riders are coordinated and look like an official team. The uniform is optional but most of the time riders do follow the suggestion. Sometimes pace fees include a lunch provided by the event organizer for after the ride, if not we sometimes plan a lunch nearby for everyone to get a bite and chat about the excellent ride had!
We offer curated lessons and programs to get less experienced riders prepared for these open space rides. Email us if you would like more information on those and check out of Rider Evaluation Blog to get started on process!
Hunter Pace Etiquette:
- Always look out for your teammates: listen to each other, don't leave anyone behind, don't put other riders in dangerous situations.
- When leading a team you should always glance back to check on your teammates.
- Be aware of your horses condition throughout, if it is hot and they are panting after a gallop, make sure to give them a good walk. Make sure you lead them into safe footing and breaks from rein contact.
- Keep your horses in an order when cantering/ galloping: it is not ok to go flying past other horses, you need to control your horse in the riding order determined by the team.
- Give proper space for jumping, if a horse refuses in front of you, there should be plenty of space for you to stop.
- If there is not another team immediately behind you, then you can have 1 re-try at a jump refusal, if the horse refuses again you need to keep moving. Remember this could affect your time. If there is a team in visible sight behind you, do not retry jumps and hold everyone up.
- Never let your horses nose get in another horses rear end, this could cause the horse in front to kick out putting everyone in a dangerous position.
- Walk on downhill terrain.
- Ask before passing other teams and when they say it's ok, pass them at a walk.
- Keep horses on the trails: do not stray into open fields, there could be holes or other dangerous footing and it could be private property that we do not have permission to ride on, if the organizer gets feedback from land owners that their land has been damaged by galloping hooves, these events could be canceled in the future!
- Communicate to other riders in a relaxed and friendly manner.
- Enjoy the ride!