Friday, May 22, 2015

Myopia Hunt Club Spring Hunter Pace

You guys. This was SO FUN. If you ever get the chance to do a hunter pace I would highly recommend it. 

My friend used the app "Track My Hack" to record our ride.
I went with my friend S and her horse, Rio, and we chose a nice mid-morning start time of 10:30 am - 11:00 am so that we didn't have to get up at the crack of dawn. We actually ended running a tiny bit late and starting at 11:19, but no one seemed to care or mind. If you're looking for a low-key but competitive outing, I'd say a hunter pace is probably your jam. 

There honestly isn't a whole lot to talk about; we walked, we trotted, we cantered, we had a blast. We got to ride on land (both public and private) that I've never ridden on before. There is an urban legend that the town of Hamilton, where the Myopia Hunt Club is based, is the horsiest town in America boasting the highest horse per square acre ratio. Not sure if that's actually true, but I would believe it. It's a very small town with quite a lot of horses and there are some seriously gorgeous and expensive farms. And of course there are miles of trails maintained by the ECTA.

Just a casual, everyday driveway lined by apple trees and green pastures.

It was a pretty warm day out - I think the temperatures reached the high 70's - and the course was almost 6 miles along. Maggie and her mustang barnmate Rio were both total champs and plugged along at a trot for the majority of the course. We walked whenever we were on paved ground (plus in the woods at the end a bit as they started to tire a little) and cantered up the hills be encountered. The horses were pretty sweaty by the end, but rather unfazed. Good conditioning! Neither of us really had to kick on at all - the 'Stangs are a pretty epic trail team!

I did mention before that I wanted to use this pace as a little bit of an opportunity to get Maggie over some XC jumps. Even though we were riding the non-jumping division, we could still choose to go over anything we pleased. Silly Maggie gave EVERYTHING the hairy eyeball. Even as I just trotted her past a jump she would bend toward it and give it the stink eye. What gives, horse? I mean, I know you haven't jumped any XC since last October, but still, you HAVE jumped them before!

We crossed the very train tracks that I take in to work everyday.
I waited until we were back in the woods where nobody could see us  before actually attempting any jumping. The first thing I pointed her at was a 2 ft log...which she gave the stink eye and stopped at like she'd never jumped a log before (she has). I circled her and she went over it fine the second time. Then a couple strides away were some rails in a coop shape (not sure if the type of jump has an official name) about 2'3" so I pointed her at those as we sailed over the log. Even right after jumping the log she gave me the big 'Nope!' at the rails. I circled her again and then she went over the second time. Ugh Maggie - this is why I get nervous about XC! More schooling is clearly in order before our first 3 phase of the season (which I just mailed the entry for yesterday!!) A little further along was an actual ditch (we have only ever schooled a faux-ditch before) and there was no way I was going to pass up the opportunity to try Maggie over it. I trotted her to it, she ducked her head to inspect it and slowed way down, but then popped over it and I have her a big pat. First ditch = conquered! Rio (who is not a jumper) even followed us over the ditch at a walk and actually put his foot in it (it was very shallow) and it was adorable. He tries so hard!

[Aside: why are there no fence judges in hunter paces? If you're doing a jumping division then how do they know you did all the jumps? I don't understand.]

Apparently there was something interesting to the left.
We finished in 1:08 and we found out later at the awards banquet (which was hot dogs and hamburgers on the grill at the gorgeous and, I'm sure, very expense Myopia Hunt Club Stables) that the official pace time was 1:14 - which we thought was really pretty good!  They were awarding ribbons through tenth place so we thought maybe we had a chance, but alas, no. I guess it's not too hard to get relatively close to the pace time? The winners of our division were only 7 seconds off! Very impressive. The scores haven't been posted online yet, so I have no idea how far away our placing was.

Apparently we could have gone slower and taken more selfies.
I'm already looking forward to the fall hunter pace put on by this same club which is on November 1st this year. Any experienced hunter pacers out there have any tips for achieving the optimal time? Or is it totally dumb luck?


  1. So much fun! I love hunter paces. I'm bummed I am missing 2 the next two weekends due to Boca being off for 10 days.

    1. That's a wicked bummer! (also, I am going to respond to your email, I promise! I just haven't gotten the chance to look up some stuff. I think I may have a cool *free* resource that you can use though!!)

  2. Isn't an optimal hunter pace time based on true foxhunting? So I think the elapsed time is always a combination of "we cantered for a while but then the hounds lost the scent so we stood around and then we walked calmly for a while through the woods and then we galloped." I'm not sure if that makes it more or less random, though! The one hunter pace I did the terrain was so rugged we could barely pick up a trot all, and I have no idea what the optimum time was for it, honestly.

    1. Here's what the Myopia website describes it as: "rior to the Hunter Pace the route is set and clearly marked through some of our most beautiful hunt country. Then Myopia sends a pair of experienced fox hunters along the Pace route to ride it at the speed that a fox hunt would typically go, including some cantering, some galloping, as well as trotting, walking, and a “check” (or resting period). These riders set the Pace - the ideal time that all other riding teams will try to match. The Hunter Pace time winner is the team that comes in as close to that pre-set Pace."

      So pretty much, yeah :)

    2. So the answer to figuring out optimum time is to go foxhunting a lot and then come back for another crack at it!

  3. what fun!!! and i love all the pictures - looks like the perfect day! i've always really wanted to try a hunter pace and this only makes me more eager lol. and silly Maggie about the log - but awesome that she beasted the ditch! she'll remember the whole xc game next time you're schooling :)

  4. Oh! you are riding through my CHILDHOOD y'all - I grew up riding with Myopia Hunt Pony club, and fence judging at Ledyard and bashing around Bradley-Palmer and ... Thank you for a lovely, lovely flashback!

  5. I've only done 1 hunter pace and it was super fun at the time, but now I'm a huge weenie and totally terrified to do another lol