If there are junior riders in your home or at your stable, encourage them to participate in the 2017 Junior North American Field Hunter Championship (JNAFHC). Open to all young riders interested in meeting fellow foxhunting kids and learning about our sport, many Qualifying Meets are already on the schedule. This year, Belle Meade Hunt (GA) will host the fun Championship weekend on November 10-12.
Red Mountain Hounds (NC) juniors, the Batts, had a great day at last year's finals, hosted by Iroquois Hunt (KY).
The JNAFHC strives to bring together juniors from different hunts and parts of the country to improve their performance in the field and expand their knowledge. The one-time entry fee of $75 covers the child riding in as many Qualifying Meets as he or she would like (even after qualifying), as well as hunting and competing over the final weekend.
The original impetus was to provide a way for juniors to enjoy foxhunting, develop their skills, and, in the long run, help assure the future of this wonderful sport. That last point has far-reaching merit because today’s junior foxhunters will be tomorrow’s leaders in the ongoing effort to preserve our farmland and countryside. The JNAFHC organization works with hunts across the United States and Canada to bring juniors together to achieve these goals and demonstrate how much these young people are valued in our community.
The Qualifying Meets feature three divisions: the Jumping Field, with separate divisions for 13 & Over and 12 & Under, and the Hilltopper Division, which goes up to 18 years old. Judges ride in the hunt field and observe the juniors. The judges are looking first and foremost for good foxhunting pairs of horse or pony and rider. Other things that factor into the judges’ assessment are: a clean, neat, and tidy horse or pony; a well groomed rider; a safe rider; a rider who is having fun and enjoying foxhunting, and a rider who makes good hunting decisions.
The Championship is a weekend time of fun and companionship. Those able to arrive on Friday get together that evening for a light dinner. On Saturday morning those that would like to hunt with the host hunt are invited to do so. Saturday night there’s a party with dancing, a horn blowing contest, a whip cracking contest, and more time for foxhunting kids—and their parents too—to mingle and get to know each other.
Sunday is Championship Day. The action starts at 9:00 am with a Hack Class, set up in an open field with the judges in the center as their Division of riders ride around them. They are asked to walk, trot, canter, and halt—both directions. This is not a “horse show” in the conventional sense. Rather, it’s intended to determine how well-suited riders and their mounts are for the hunt field.
Once the judges have had a good look at their field of riders and the juniors have had a little warm up, the Mock Hunt begins. The judges also ride in the Mock Hunt to evaluate their riders. There are three Mock Hunts, one for each division with three Field Masters. When the Mock Hunt finishes, the juniors and their horses or ponies go back to their trailers for a little cool down while the judges meet to choose their Top 10. Once the Top 10 list is announced, they begin their Final Test, similar to a Handy Hunter course.
At the conclusion of each Division’s Final Test, the Champion and Reserve Champion will be awarded trophies and awards.
For more information, or if your hunt would like to host a qualifying meet, please contact Marion Chungo at firstname.lastname@example.org, 540-220-7292, visit the website at jnafhc.com, and follow the Facebook group Junior North American Field Hunter Championship.