On Sunday September 13, Karen agreed to lug me and Bentley out to Puslinch, Ontario to take part in a Hunter Pace put on by Wellington Waterloo Hunt.
For those of you who are thinking “what in the world?!”, let me explain what it is without screwing up any of the details. It’s an event that is supposed to simulate a hunt – but without the hounds, or the actual hunting. Royally confused yet?
They laid out a trail through forest and fields, marked with ribbons and signs. You are supposed to travel at a pace similar to what you would do if you were at a real hunt, the signs set the scene and gave you clues as to how to pace certain areas. Earlier in the day, the hunt master will have ridden the trail, and decided on an optimum time, and whoever gets closest to the optimum time wins. Seems easy enough? Here’s the catch: you don’t actually know what the optimum time is. Its a bit of a crapshoot and for a first time hunter off Endurance, well… let me cut to the chase… I guessed way too fast!
The day was cold, 20 degrees colder than it was only one week before. Unfortunately despite planning out our ESRR outfits, Karen and I had to cover them up with sweaters and jackets. We started relatively early in the field (its a staggered start), and intended to warm up along the trail.
One thing about hunter paces that is different than your average endurance or other competitive distance ride, is there are jumps along the course. They arent big, but they are there! They were laid along the trail so that you could opt to not jump them if you wished, but somewhat fresh off that cross country schooling, we took em all! (although admittedly some were taken on the second attempt). Sometimes they came up fast around a corner, had me working on my toes!
About 5km in, we had a “Stirrup Cup”, in other words, Port in a dixie cup. Yum, that warmed us up! Bentley looked around confused why the vet check was so early, and where in the world are those vets anyway?
Im pretty sure he was sufficiently confused by the end of the day, and was constantly looking back at me asking “Really? REALLY?!” Mostly when I made him walk over perfectly good trot or canter terrain. In hunting there is a lot of hurry up then wait rather than trucking along at a steady pace.
I will leave you with some more videos, I just had the cam on for the whole ride, so there is a lot of footage. Depending on how bored you are and what you need to procrastinate, you might find enough time to watch through them all and pick out the jumps if thats what you are into. There was also a few nice ponds to view, and perhaps maybe you were there yourself and I caught you on film? Enjoy!
And for good measure, my Garmin tracks: https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/898426043