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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct. 29, 2010
    Posts
    16

    Default Preparing for a Hunter Pace

    Hi there! Long-time lurker, first time appealing to the COTH experts for advice.

    I am very excited to be gearing up for a hunter pace or two this fall. I did quite a few as a kid and had a blast! I am finally at a point where I can enjoy them again. I am looking for recommendations for making sure the horses we take are strong enough for these events without being too fit for their regular jobs. Our intent is not to be trying for optimum or fastest time, more to get out of the ring and enjoy the countryside with friends. The paces we are looking at are 5-10 miles and I see us walking most of it, with some trotting, cantering, and jumping interspersed. The terrain can be hilly and can range between rocky and mucky.

    The horses are show horses that generally do 30-45 minutes of flatwork in a ring that is not entirely flat or manicured 3-4 days a week and an hour flat/jumping lesson per week. Most of the horses are in the 6-12 age range, but some are late teens, early 20s. Space and conditions are limiting, so hacking out is rare. We try to spend 10-20 minutes walking outside of the ring on grass and gravel roads a couple times a week. We have the opportunity to ship out to local trails that offer miles of varied trails.

    We are looking to do our first pace two months from now. Keeping in mind that some of the horses show once or twice a month (2’6”-3’ level), how much more should we do to prepare? Is 5-10 mostly walking miles going to be difficult for them? Can we prepare them appropriately with 2-3 longer trail rides over the next two months? If so, how long would you make those rides?

    I appreciate any help you can provide! When I was young, my ponies could do paces in their sleep because we had plenty of open space to play on any time we felt like it to keep them in shape. Not so much anymore



  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun. 22, 2006
    Location
    SF Bay Area, CA
    Posts
    1,784

    Default

    Sounds like you don't need to prepare much at all. I would make sure they are fine "hacking out"....but otherwise, Hunter Paces aren't too demanding unless you do the higher-level classes or multiple classes
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Equine & Pet Portrait Artist
    www.elainehickman.com
    **Morgans Do It All**



  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug. 28, 2007
    Location
    Triangle Area, NC
    Posts
    6,675

    Default

    If your doing the slow pace you should be fine.
    www.destinationconsensusequus.com
    chaque pas est fait ensemble



  4. #4
    Join Date
    May. 5, 2011
    Posts
    1,645

    Default

    Any reasonably fit horse can complete a 25mi limited distance endurance ride, I'd say you're good to go for a 5-10mi slow hack.

    I'd do a couple test runs of 5-10mi if you can in the mean time, but id not, I don't think it's the end of the world. If a horse can do an hour jumping lesson, they're probably plenty fit for what you want them to do unless the terrain is particularly technical (lots of really steep hills or something).



  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun. 9, 2005
    Location
    Unionville, PA
    Posts
    3,278

    Default

    You'll be fine, have fun.
    Delaware Park Canter Volunteer
    http://www.canterusa.org/



  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul. 25, 2012
    Posts
    213

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by jj90 View Post
    Hi there! Long-time lurker, first time appealing to the COTH experts for advice.

    I am very excited to be gearing up for a hunter pace or two this fall. I did quite a few as a kid and had a blast! I am finally at a point where I can enjoy them again. I am looking for recommendations for making sure the horses we take are strong enough for these events without being too fit for their regular jobs. Our intent is not to be trying for optimum or fastest time, more to get out of the ring and enjoy the countryside with friends. The paces we are looking at are 5-10 miles and I see us walking most of it, with some trotting, cantering, and jumping interspersed. The terrain can be hilly and can range between rocky and mucky.

    The horses are show horses that generally do 30-45 minutes of flatwork in a ring that is not entirely flat or manicured 3-4 days a week and an hour flat/jumping lesson per week. Most of the horses are in the 6-12 age range, but some are late teens, early 20s. Space and conditions are limiting, so hacking out is rare. We try to spend 10-20 minutes walking outside of the ring on grass and gravel roads a couple times a week. We have the opportunity to ship out to local trails that offer miles of varied trails.

    We are looking to do our first pace two months from now. Keeping in mind that some of the horses show once or twice a month (2’6”-3’ level), how much more should we do to prepare? Is 5-10 mostly walking miles going to be difficult for them? Can we prepare them appropriately with 2-3 longer trail rides over the next two months? If so, how long would you make those rides?

    I appreciate any help you can provide! When I was young, my ponies could do paces in their sleep because we had plenty of open space to play on any time we felt like it to keep them in shape. Not so much anymore
    Out of curiosity where are you located? Our hunter paces start in just a few weeks as well, and I too am very excited for them to start.



  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov. 23, 2006
    Location
    New England
    Posts
    2,622

    Default

    Your horses likely will be fit enough for a 5-10 mile pace if you take lots of walk breaks but make sure they are acclimated and safe to ride out on varied terrain, up and down hills, through deep mud or across water, over xc jumps if you plan to jump etc.. They must also be okay with other groups of horses passing at a walk or trot (occasionally in a field people will pass at the canter too).

    If you can take the horses out for a w,t,c group trail ride a few times before the planned paces I think it would be great preparation. At nearly every hunter pace I have attended I have encountered people who have to turn around and go back to the trailer or end up getting tossed because their horse never gets out of the ring and is not prepared for the "excitement" of riding out in the countryside, especially with lots of other horses around.

    In my experience it is very risky to take a horse to a hunter pace that has no experience riding in groups outside of the ring without preparation beforehand. Just as one prepares their horse for encountering the challenges faced at a horse show, riding in a hunter pace takes preparation and training in order to have a safe and enjoyable ride.



  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct. 29, 2010
    Posts
    16

    Default

    Thank you so much for easing my mind! We've shipped out and done a few smaller rides to see how they handled horses cantering up behind them, water, natural obstacles and wide open spaces. So far, so good!

    Sloeryder - we're in the PA-NJ area.



  9. #9
    Join Date
    Sep. 24, 2009
    Posts
    1,106

    Default

    My rule of thumb is that if my horse can do 1 to 1/2 hours of mostly working trot work, with a walk break or 2 and a canter or 2, then she's fit enough. The horse shouldn't be dead tired when you're done and should recover pretty quickly.

    I tend to make sure she's pretty fit because where I ride it's very flat, and I tend to pace further north where it's really hilly. My mare also has recovered from 2 tendon injuries, so I keep her more fit than she needs to be because I don't want her re-injuring that tendon.

    But anyway, sounds like you're pretty much there at this point.

    Have a great time and don't forget to pack a picnic !



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