Golden's Bridge Hounds spring hunter pace event to be held Sunday in North Salem


The Goldens Bridge Hounds spring hunter pace event will take place Sunday, April 24 at Baxter Preserve in North Salem. (Helen Houghton / Golden's Bridge Hounds)

North Salem’s quiet country roads will be filled with the sounds of galloping hooves this Sunday as the Golden's Bridge Hounds hosts its spring hunter pace event. The annual event invites riders of all disciplines to compete in a friendly competition to see who can complete a 6-8 mile marked course as close to a set pace time as possible.

Event coordinator and GBH member Lisa Cowan said that the club expects around 100 riders to participate. About 70 riders are already signed up, and registration remains open through Friday. All riders participate on teams of two to three people. “Paces are a lot of fun,” Cowan said. “When you go out with your team, if you are in the hunt division, you are trying to match the pace time. You don’t know going into the race how far the distance is or what the optimum time is, but you are trying to match that time. Whoever is closest wins, whether it’s over or under.”

Gates open for the spring hunter pace event at 8:00 a.m. on Sunday. (Helen Houghton / Golden's Bridge Hounds)

Cowan said that a hunt pace is typically fast, but still safe enough for a horse to gallop and to complete the various jumps that are stationed throughout the course. “Where it’s safe to gallop, they’ll gallop, but where it’s better to trot, they’ll trot.” The jumps studded throughout Sunday’s course range from small logs to stone walls 3’6” feet high.

Anita Zander, who has been hunting with GBH for the past 30 years, said, "following a marked course in a strange place takes away the worry of getting lost, and it’s a great way to explore a new area, and meet old and new friends." Zander plans to attend Sunday's event on her horse, Martha. "I’m proud to say that I’m 76 years old and I still run and jump on my perfect horse," Zander added.

Anita Zander on her horse, Martha. (Helene Houghton / Golden's Bridge Hounds)

Completing the pace depends on a lot of factors, including the fitness of one’s horse. “You need to think about not pushing your horse too hard,” Cowan explained. “And, people will be thinking about footing,” she added, noting the weather conditions that will make it likely riders will see more mud than usual.

For riders more interested in a leisurely pace, the competition offers a pleasure division. The pace is still brisk, but usually 10 to 15 minutes slower than the hunt time. In this group, riders can choose to avoid jumps and simply enjoy a scenic ride on horseback through North Salem.

Sunday's hunter pace event includes three divisions: hunter, pleasure and junior. (Helen Houghton / Golden's Bridge Hounds)

“One of the fun parts is that it allows you to ride a pretty area that isn’t always one hundred percent open,” Cowan said. “Especially for riders from the region but not from North Salem, it’s a nice way to see the beautiful North Salem trails and to access them.”

Younger riders are invited to participate in the pace’s junior division. They may compete as part of an all-junior team or along with an adult.

Sunday’s course will travel through North Salem’s “crown jewel,” Baxter Preserve. The pace starts and finishes at the ‘racetrack’ at Baxter, with riders traversing both Baxter South and Baxter North. North Salem residents are urged to use caution when traveling on June Road between Baxter Road and Titicus Road Sunday morning, as the riders will cross the street in a couple locations along that stretch.

The jumps studded throughout Sunday’s course range from small logs to stone walls 3'6" feet high. (Helen Houghton / Goldens Bridge Hounds)

This year, event organizers will host a luncheon after the event, a tradition that was paused during the height of the pandemic. “We’re looking forward to being able to gather with friends and enjoy some lunch,” Cowan said. The club will also announce the prize winners at lunch.

Sunday’s pace is one of three that the Golden's Bridge Hounds hosts each year. The club hosts a fall pace in North Salem and a North Country summer event in Amenia, New York. 

A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that jumps throughout the course would be 3 - 6 feet high. In fact, the jumps will be 3'6" high. We regret the error.

The Golden's Bridge Hounds spring pace starts at 8:30 a.m. on Sunday, April 24. Riders will be on the course until noon. Click here to register.

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