Hunter Paces vary in different parts of this country, but everywhere that I’ve ever heard, they are a fun way to get out and about with our horses, enjoy trails we normally don’t have access to and compete in a friendly game. As with recent seasons, the Western Carolina Hunter Pace & Trail Ride Series Events will normally be between six (6) and twelve (12) miles in length. The individual flyers should also give you some brief info as to the terrain and any other particularities to that individual Event.
The Field Hunter Division will continue very much in the traditional manner with an “optimum time” set prior to the event by a rider who has ridden the trail at a Foxhunting Pace. A timekeeper will track “on-course” time for each team and the team coming the closest to the Optimum, whether over or under, will be declared as winner of the Field Hunter Division for the respective Event.
Our Trail Rider Division has been created from the traditional Hill Topper Division in which the trails are taken at a more sedate pace. The terrain and scenery is expected to have much to do with these ride times. The winning time for the Trail Rider Division will be determined by averaging the middle half of the ride teams. That is, if there are twenty (20) teams, the time of the fastest five (5) teams and the slowest five (5) teams will be put aside and the middle ten (10) team times will be averaged. An outside time limit may be set by some organization and riders will be notified of this in advance.
Each group uses their own varied terrain and thus each Event tends to have its own distinctive flavor. And speaking of flavor, fox hunting has always been very much a social event. Thus many of our Hunter Paces continue to offer a variety of foods, according to season and preferences. Normal fare can be anything from soup and a sandwich in the fall, thru chili or stew during the winter or cold salads and picnic style sandwiches for the warm weather rides. Coffee, soda, tea, cookies and/or cake, chips and other accompaniments as well as apples or carrots for our mounts are also often offered. As trying to estimate the number of riders and food quantities needed, can be difficult, some Organizers opt to have a caterer on site for riders to either brown bag or purchase their lunch. When this is the case, the flyer will make notation of it and entry fees will be lowered accordingly.
Lest our riders get too taxed with their riding efforts, and to allow our mounts a short respite, there is a required rest stop, generally three (3) minutes, about half way thru the course at which riders are usually offered such refreshments as water, juice, cookies, candy and/or the traditional “stirrup cup”.
Jumps vary in size and style according to the group and terrain and are traditionally taken by the Field Hunters. However, in this Series ALL jumps are optional and riders may enjoy or avoid them at their personal preference and that of their mount. Because we are concerned about safety, all riders taking jumps are required to wear protective head gear.
Attire, once similar to the formal hunt suits, has also become relaxed in this area. Over the past few years the Paces in this Series have totally dispensed with any dress requirements and there is even the annual Halloween costume contest where you might find all manner of strange creatures riding about! But normally, breeches and shirt, jeans and sweatshirt, slacks and tee-shirt, for examples, or basically any comfortable, neat, safe riding attire is fine. Likewise, the focus of your mount's attire should be on safety and comfort whether that means English, Western, a mixture, or something entirely different.
Once again Lou, our official photographer, is looking forward to joining us to make permanent records of our fun. Remember to smile when you see his camera lens pointed in your direction, and don’t be shy about asking if you’d like some posed or “pre-planned action” shots of you and your mount. Emma and/or I may occasionally be seen with camera in hand as we try to cover alternate locations or fill in. Whether we capture your photo candid or posed, there’s never any obligation; purchase if you like or just enjoy seeing your selves on the website. Stop by my rig (black F150 Extended Cab w/turtle top & old gray 2-horse trailer) anytime to visit or pick up photos you’ve ordered earlier and prepaid. Now that we’ve entered the digital age, we try to have photos posted to the website by the weekend following an event and they can be ordered thru the site using PayPal or via email and mailing your check. Orders will go into the photo shop upon receipt of your payment and we can mail your photos or bring them to the next Hunter Pace at your preference.
So, now that I have (hopefully) covered all bases, explained away all questions and calmed all concerns, we look forward to having you come out to join us for this upcoming 2015-16 Pace Series. And in case you have any questions that I’ve missed, please call or drop me an e-mail, I’ll be happy to answer any further queries. We want YOU to join US. Really, you’ll be glad you did; and better yet, bring a friend or two!
A couple of REGULATIONS to keep in mind:
All Riders are requested to wear protective head gear, but those riders opting not to take any jumps may sign a special waiver and exercise their option to dispense with helmets at some Events (if so allowed, per the requirements of the organization’s insurance company and property owners).
Proof of a current, negative Coggins test is required at all Events. This is a state law.
A few general reminders:
Events are usually scheduled two weeks apart to allow the following weekend as a rain date. As weather can be very different just a few miles away here in the foothills, it’s always prudent to check our website the morning of the even; I can have a notice posted while still on the phone with the Event Organizer. If sufficient warning time, I will send out an alert to our Hunter Pace Email list as soon as I hear if an Event is postponed so check your email and our website before dialing the phone, especially if it’s a toll call. But if weather is questionable and you don’t have internet access at home, you can double check either the evening before or the morning of the event by calling the hosting organization’s contact person as listed on their flyer. In most cases there will be calling into their cell or if a landline an outgoing message will be on their answering machine, especially if the event has been postponed.
Normally I have all the paperwork for several days after events. Results will be posted to the Western Carolina Hunter Pace Series website, once calculated - usually the night after the event.
The event organizers are responsible for distribution of their event’s ribbons and should therefore be contacted directly if you place and your ribbon does not arrive in a timely manner.
PEER – Polk Equine Emergency Rescue – You may have noticed the PEER Trailer and volunteers at some of the events over the past seasons, and you’ll likely see more of them. Be sure to stop by their displays to check it out, thank them and visit. PEER is a non-profit organization devoted to large animal rescue in Western North Carolina and Upstate South Carolina. Donations are always gratefully accepted. (PEER, PO Box 1237, Tryon, NC 28782) Let’s give this great local organization a big hand!!
COMPETITORS, PLEASE TAKE FULL ADVANTAGE OF THE ELECTRONIC AGE WE ARE LIVING IN
So that we can all take advantage of the speed and economy of Internet communication via e-mail, I’ve instituted my Hunter Pace Email List. If you have e-mail, drop me a note and ask to be included.
I don’t mean to play favorites, but the members of the Hunter Pace Email List are the first to know of any schedule changes, new Events, weather reschedules, etc. I will be happy to add you to the list. Once I’ve finalized the times and placements after each Event I post the Official Results and top placements and the site automatically tallies the Series standings for all interested parties to view on our new Western Carolina Series website at http://www.WCHPace.org
Simply e-mail me at WCHPace@Windstream.net or thru the website at Jan@WCHPace.org to be included. I will acknowledge all requests, but computers occasionally “hic-cup”, so if you don’t receive a response from me within a few days please check back or resend. I look forward to hearing from you!