I filled in on Sunday night to photograph Hunt Night at the Warrenton Horse Show. I have to confess I have lived in the Warrenton area for seventeen years and photograph lots of foxhunting but had never been to Hunt Night. Jordan Koepke told me this would be nothing like photographing a regular hunter show and she was certainly right. Many of these classes are for foxhunters, not show horses, and the entries have to be fairly hunted, which means they have spent a certain number of hours in the hunt field.
There was a pairs class that was very different from the pairs classes I used to ride in as a child. Those were under saddle classes where you rode side by side and were judged on your ability to keep your horses together and synchronized. Keeping horses together and synchronized is still the goal of the Hunt Night pairs class but it is held over a course of eight fences around 2'9. Most teams rode in tandem, some staying very close together or switching leaders during the round. However a few rode abreast and were very impressive indeed.
Daylight rapidly faded and classes continued under the lights. The ladies side saddle division is held on Hunt Night although these are not necessarily foxhunt horses. Penny Denegre and Garnet swept the division winning every class. I don't know if Garnet hunts but Penny certainly does and is joint master of Middleburg Hunt.
One of the most exciting classes is the Hunting Staff Class, open to past and present staff members of foxhunt clubs. The prize list states that it will be held over a "modified handy hunter course" but this is a far cry from any handy hunter class you will see at other hunter shows. The entrants had to trot a skinny, blow their horn or shout view halloo, drop a 'hot' wire, jump a fence with an approach so tight it had to be done from a walk and crack their whip at a halt and a gallop. While the Sun Shines gallops as Warrenton Huntsman Matt Van der Woude cracks his whip. The pair won the award for the best turned out.
There was a much more sedate Masters Class for past and present Masters of recognized foxhound packs. Joy Crompton of Farmington Hunt and Seamus won the class.
The last class of the night was the Hunt Teams class where three horses jump in tandem over the course until the last fence where they try to synchronize and jump together.
The show didn't end until 1am, at which point, I wasn't the only one who was very tired!
Photos of Hunt Night can be found on Daniell DeLapp Photography. Please take a look and enjoy them!