Western Carolina Hunter Pace &Trail Ride kicks off season

Published 1:39 pm Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The 2010-11 Western Carolina Hunter Pace & Trail Ride Series will begin Saturday, Sept. 11 with a benefit event for the SE Childrens Home.

The series currently has 17 events tentatively scheduled and may have yet another joining the ranks, with year-end awards and ribbons going to high score individuals in each division at a special year end awards gathering at a date and place as yet to be determined.

Hunter paces vary in different parts of this country, but WCHP organizers say they are generally a fun way to get out and about with horses, enjoy trails that are normally not accessible and compete in a friendly game. The WCHP & Trail Ride Series events will normally be between six and ten miles in length.

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.

The trail rider division has been created from the more 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 20 teams the time of the fastest five teams and the slowest five teams will be put aside and the middle ten team times will be averaged. An outside time limit may be set by some organizations and riders will be notified of this in advance.

Many of this season’s hunter paces will continue to offer a variety of foods. Normal fare can be anything from soup and a sandwich in the fall, 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 horses are also usually offered. 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.

There is a required rest stop, usually three minutes, about halfway through 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. All riders taking jumps are required to wear protective head gear.

Attire, once similar to the formal hunt suits, has become relaxed. Over the past few years the paces in this series have totally dispensed with any dress preference, and there is even the annual Halloween costume contest. Normally, breeches and shirt, jeans and sweatshirt, slacks and T-shirt or basically any comfortable, neat, safe riding attire is fine.

Likewise, the focus of your mounts attire should be on safety and comfort whether that means English, Western, a mixture, or something entirely different.

Once again Lou, the series’ official photographer, will make permanent records of the events. His photos and others are usually posted to the website (http://www.WCHPace.org) by the weekend following an event and can be ordered through the site via email.

A few 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 many events (if allowed per the requirements of the organizations insurance company).

Proof of a current, negative Coggins test is required at all Western Carolina Hunter Pace & Trail Ride Series Events. This is a state law.

A couple of 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, its always prudent to check the website the morning of the event.

If you are on the hunter pace email list you will receive an alert as soon as possible if an event is postponed, so check your email and the website before dialing the phone. To be added to the hunter pace email list, send an email to Jan@WCHPace.org. If you dont receive a response within a few days, check back or resend.

If weather is questionable and you dont have Internet access at home, you can double check either the evening before or the morning of the event by calling the hosting organizations contact person (see table above).

Normally the results for an event will be posted on the website the night after the event.

The event organizers are responsible for distribution of each events ribbons and should therefore be contacted directly if you place and your ribbon does not arrive in a timely manner.

You may have noticed the Polk Equine Emergency Rescue trailer and volunteers at some of the events over the past season, and youll likely see more of them. PEER is a non-profit organization devoted to large animal rescue in Western North Carolina and Upstate South Carolina.2010/11 season schedule

9/11&bsp;&bsp; &bsp;SE Childrens Home Benefit, Bob/Leslie Scott, 864-877-9392

9/26&bsp;&bsp; &bsp;Foothills Equestrian Events, Alicia Henderson, 828-685-0129

10/10&bsp;&bsp; &bsp;Tryon Hounds, Louise Hughston/Nelson Minick

10/24&bsp;&bsp; &bsp;Green Creek Hounds, to be announced

11/7&bsp;&bsp; &bsp;FENCE Melissa LeRoy, 828-859-9021

11/20&bsp;&bsp; &bsp;Clemson Intercollegiate Eventing Team, to be announced

12/5&bsp;&bsp; &bsp;Biltmore Equestrian Center, Elizabeth Bush, 828-225-1454

1/8&bsp;&bsp; &bsp;SE Childrens Home Benefit, Bob/Leslie Scott, 864-877-9392

1/23&bsp;&bsp; &bsp;Biltmore West Range, Elizabeth Bush, 828-225-1454

2/6&bsp;&bsp; &bsp;FENCE, Melissa LeRoy, 828-859-9021

2/20&bsp;&bsp; &bsp;Greenville Foothills Pony Club, Denise Ritacco, 864-414-3185

3/6&bsp;&bsp; &bsp;Polk County 4-H & Youth Foundation, to be announced

3/20&bsp;&bsp; &bsp;Green Creek Hounds, to be announced

4/3&bsp;&bsp; &bsp;Tryon Hounds, Louise Hughston/Nelson Minick

4/17&bsp;&bsp; &bsp;Watch this date.

5/1&bsp;&bsp; &bsp;Big Brothers / Big Sisters Benefit, to be announced

5/15&bsp;&bsp; &bsp;Steps to Hope Benefit, to be announced

5/29&bsp;&bsp; &bsp;River Valley Pony Club, to be announced

6/??&bsp;&bsp; &bsp;Year End Awards Gathering, Jan Smith, 828-894-8760