September 23, 2017 marked the return of the field hunter trial to the Carolina Foothills. Another celebration of the horse in sport, the event is one of the MFHA’s Hark Forward series that showcases the sport of foxhunting, the field hunter as the original sporthorse, the preservation of open space, and the joy of riding cross country following hounds. Blessed with beautiful dry weather and sunshine, the event was hosted at the new facility for the Green Creek Hounds, a state-of-the-art kennel with beautiful pasture and surrounding fields.
Janet Cummings, one of Green Creek's third flight field masters, was pleased with her horse's performance. Photo by Deborah Bundy.
An outside course featuring multiple heights of coops, a stone ditch, saddle gate and multiple cross country fences traversed the largest of the open fields. Divisions of Handy Field Hunter (Amateurs), Working Field Hunter (Professionals) and Hilltoppers participated in pairs to contest the bending and turning course, to conclude with individual challenges at the saddle gate and a final galloping coop. The judges were seated in an open air trailer where the course concluded with the final coop and gallop.
Hilltoppers followed the same twisting course without jumps, including terrain as well as the gate and a step over log, to finish in the same location for their final judging. All divisions were concluded nearly by noon, with all divisions awarded after the final round of Hilltoppers. Judges David Raley, from Maryland, and Julie McKee, from Georgia, placed the best according to MFHA guidelines designed for the Centennial Field Hunter championship in 2008.
Very generous sponsors donated a wealth of prizes, with the signature winners’ stable sheet awarded from Horseware Ireland. Both Handy and Working Field Hunters received commemorative sheets, and lovely embroidered saddle pads donated by The Farm House tack shop, as well as other Horseware items were dispensed to the top finishers. First through Third placings across divisions are now qualified for the Tryon International Equestrian Center (TIEC) Field Hunter championship taking place November 17-18, 2017.
Many sponsors provided beautiful and useful awards for the top finishers. DJ Jefferis photo.
Sunday was a day for additional qualifying rounds, and resulted in another group of competitors across various divisions receiving qualifying placings and MFHA Hark Forward ribbons. The most celebrated competitor was 12-year-old Hyland Sheffron, who placed 2nd in the Hilltoppers against many adult competitors! He is looking forward to competing on the Derby Field at TIEC in November.
Many volunteers made this event a tremendous success, as well as the generous sponsors who exemplify the quality of life in the Carolina Foothills. We extend particular gratitude to Roger Smith, the primary landowner for the Green Creek Hounds, as well as MFH Kem Ketcham, who are responsible for the new kennel and surrounding property.