By Lauren Schiavone
Hometown Weekly Staff
The Norfolk Hunt Club recently hosted the second annual Charles River Panorama Hunter Pace, a fitting farewell to summer days. Riders and spectators were up bright and early on Sunday morning, August 21, as the first race began at 7:30 a.m. at Medfield State Hospital. Nearly 100 horses visited the pace and braved the August heat.
Athletic horses were ready to jump, and three different jumps were put in place, with the highest being a three foot, six inch drop. Along the Lewis Line in Sherborn, four jumps were available as they parallel the Charles River. Keeping things accessible, jumps were optional and riders were sorted into three classes: first flight (jumping), second flight (flats), or hilltoppers (slow pace flats), based on ability of both the rider and the horse.
The teams finishing closest to the predetermined optimum time in each division were awarded ribbons from first through sixth place.
Norfolk Hunt Club member Gil Rodgers pointed out the efforts that were made to showcase beautiful hidden gems across the eight-mile trail. Many historical estates and vistas are just a stone’s throw away from what seems like ordinary backroads. “Tucked behind these dirt roads,” Rodgers explained, “are all of these incredible estates. They’ve been protected by owners for hundreds of years. The hunter pace is a chance to see what it was like 200 years ago.” Riders trekked along Leverett Saltonstall farm, which once belonged to the native Abenaki and Pennacook peoples. Saltonstall served as a United States Senator and later retired to the farm in Dover. The Norfolk Hunt Club itself has been active since the late 1800s.
“It’s eight miles long,” Rodgers added. “It’s all interconnected through horse trails. When you’re going from the hospital property to the Saltonstall property, there are trails that connect through Dover all across back to Medfield for the finish line.”
Riders shared their stories as horses galloped along lofty trails with views of the Charles River. Some traveled as far as Long Island for the hunter pace, and the hunt club made it well worth the journey.
“The trails were perfectly laid out,” said Erica Foley, a Norfolk Hunt Club member and experienced rider, who enjoyed her experience. “The markers were set properly; no one could’ve gotten lost. The jumps were beautiful and inviting. It’s a great statement of the facility alone; the property is so beautiful.”
The Charles River Panorama Hunter Pace is the second out of three Norfolk Hunt Club paces. The Fall Hunter Pace takes place in Westport on Sunday, October 30. For more information, visit https://www.norfolkhunt.com/events-1