HFH hunter pace recap

The Harvard Fox Hounds hunter pace is one of my favorite events of the year; I’ve been several times on Gina and always had a blast. I was super excited for this year’s event because I was on a team with my foxhunting friends instead of the dressage weenies from my barn. (Not that I don’t love my dressage weenie friends- we just don’t always see eye-to-eye on galloping and jumping!)

But the weather forecast for Saturday morning was in the 30s with strong winds and possible rain, so my teammates let me know on Friday that they were staying home in their pajamas rather than get out in potentially gross weather.

Because I am super hardcore (or insane, take your pick), I emailed the hunter pace coordinator about my situation and asked if there was a team with an open spot. She put me with a couple of  hunt members and assured me I’d have a great time.

I decided to take Moe. I was swamped with work last week and was unable to get to the barn to evaluate Gina’s soundess; I knew Moe was fine and would hold up through the 2+ hour ride. I wasn’t exactly thrilled about the idea, since Moe loses his mind in group situations in open terrain, but I figured he’d enjoy himself and it would be a good opportunity to school water crossings and interesting jumps.

It rained early Saturday morning, but had stopped by time I got up and headed to the barn. It was super cold and really, really windy, though! Moe practically ran into the trailer and off we went!

"YAY YAY YAY TRAILER RIDE"
“YAY YAY YAY TRAILER RIDE”

The wind made me seriously question my decision to go; I could feel it buffeting the trailer on the highway and it annihilated my gas mileage. I was relieved when we finally got to Flint Creek Farm! I unloaded Moe and left him to eat hay while I checked in. I located my new teammates, quickly tacked up Moe, and got to the starting line.

Fueling up for the ride!
Fueling up for the ride!

By this time, the sun was peeking out of the clouds, but it was still cold and windy. The first obstacle was crossing Flint Creek, which was running about 3″ deeper than usual because of the morning rain. Moe wasn’t thrilled about plunging into knee-deep cold water first thing, but he gamely went and emerged on the other side eager to get going.

My teammates were mounted on big, sturdy Quarter Horses who were experienced hunters but not especially forward-thinking or brave. They were happy to let Moe lead and he was happy to do so; he spent most of the pace walking at top speed (where is this walk in the dressage arena??) about 25 feet ahead of his new horse friends.

Cold but lovely!
Cold but lovely!

We spent the first twenty minutes or so at a speedy walk; Moe wanted so badly to take off galloping, as he could see teams ahead of us cantering over some jumps. I let him cruise at a canter through a wide trail in the woods and up a small hill. He was pulling and eager to go faster, but I bridged my reins, set my hands on his neck, and kept him at a reasonable pace.

Motoring on
Motoring on

That was how the whole pace went: hand gallop, jump, walk. Moe was a dream over every fence- he locked onto them early, jumped them easily, and was enthusiastic to everything. We cleared some big logs, countless coops, a sizable ditch, and a series of three wide tables spaced about four strides apart. He even jumped my favorite jump- a coop that’s set on top of a short, steep hill. You have to take a sharp left, canter about 3 strides up a very steep little hill, then have about one stride to get situated to jump a 2’9-ish coop. Gina had a refusal at it last year (and then went on a second try), but Moe read the question right away and handily scampered up and over without batting an eye.

My teammates stuck to smaller jumps, but kept up with Moe pretty well. We finished in just over two hours. Moe still felt fresh and excited when we crossed the finish line; I covered him in a borrowed cooler that was about a foot too long and left him with his hay bag and bucket of water while I ate lunch at the potluck.

Super Moe in his cape!
Super Moe in his cape!

The mystery time was revealed to be 2:03, so my teammates and I were pretty sure we’d place- we were ecstatic to learn we were the closest to the mystery time and we won gorgeous saddle pads and blue ribbons! I congratulated Moe with a handful of cookies before we loaded back up to go home.

WINNER!
WINNER!

I’m thrilled with Moe’s performance; after being able to get him through water and over some related distances and tricky jumps, I feel very confident about next year’s show season (well, the jumping parts of it, at least). I can’t tell you all how fun Moe is to ride- I was laughing and smiling over jumps that would give me pause on Gina. Moe seemed like he was having a great time, too; I’m pretty sure this is his new most favorite competition: all cross country, all the time!

 

Author: Stephanie

Equestrian, amateur cook, people person.

16 thoughts on “HFH hunter pace recap”

  1. Great choice to take Moe! Apparently this pace he set was perfect (with some tweaks from you of course). Those QH girls should be thrilled they didn’t set the pace! Paige would take 5 hours to do a typical 2 hour ride if I let her choose. 😉

    1. Hahaha! Once I did the pace in about an hour and a half on Gina- we cantered nearly the whole time and were WAY WAY too fast! I think Moe would have been happy to try and beat her time, but his poor QH teammates would have been left in the dust.

  2. Congrats! That’s awesome!!
    Moe is amazing! I love how brave he is.
    I’m really impressed that you womaned up and went without your friends. I probably would have just skipped it if I was in your position. But you found a new group and WON! Nice work!

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