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Junior North American Field Hunter Championship
Trophy & Ribbons - Front row: Caroline Anthony (Champion HT 11-19), Rosie Voigt (Reserve Champion HT 10& under) Back row: Annagrace Rawls, Clara Jean Thompson, Brooks Marie Sneed
Group photo of all HH juniors- Caroline Anthony & Kip, Clara Jean Thompson & River, Annagrace Rawls & William, Rosie Voigt & Rose, Brooks Marie Sneed & Sly, Ava Wood & RVF Sophia
The (JNAFHC) Junior North American Field Hunter Championship was founded in 2003 in Virginia. The competition is designed for Junior riders, 19 years and younger, on appropriate fox-hunting ponies and horses. Emphasis is on the suitability of the mount for the junior rider, and proper turnout is important.
Many hunt clubs across the United States and Canada host qualifiers for children to ride and be judged in the hunt field, in the hopes of qualifying to attend the JNAFHC. They have field judges and administer various tests throughout the day prior to being “passed” by the hosting hunt. Once a junior qualifies for the national finals, they practice at home and in the hunt field to prepare for the big weekend.
The finals location changes each year based on which hunt is willing and equipped to host the large number of participants. This year, the Iroquois Hunt in Lexington, Kentucky hosted the event over the last weekend in October 29-30, 2021. Dr. Jack van Nagell, MFH of the Iroquois Hunt, welcomed everyone to his beautiful Boone Valley Farm. Over 60 Juniors attended, representing 21 hunt clubs across the U.S. and Canada.
The Hillsboro Hounds were represented by six juniors ranging in ages 9 to 17. Five of our six riders placed in the top ten for their divisions in the field of over 60 riders. (Our non-placing rider had to retire early due to an injury her horse sustained over a jump; both are fine now.) One of our riders was champion of her division and another rider was reserve champion of her division. This was the first time that a junior rider from Tennessee has ever won a divisional championship and/or reserve championship for this event. It was a wonderful weekend for everyone involved!
In the Hilltoppers 11-19 division, Champion was Caroline Anthony with Hillsboro Hounds. Other Hillsboro members who placed: 5th Annagrace Rawls, 7th Clara Jean Thompson, and 8th Brooks Marie Sneed.
In the Hilltoppers 10 & Under division, Rosie Voigt of Hillsboro was Reserve Champion.
How Juniors Qualify:
Hillsboro Hounds has hosted many qualifiers over the years, starting in 2015. We have sent numerous juniors to the finals over the years, all well representing our state. Each spring Hillsboro hosts a Youth Day where all children who are competent riding out of ring come to experience our sport. We’ve invited and hosted local 4-H members, Pony Club members, and of course, our friends from other local hunts as well. It is a wonderful day for all ages and a terrific annual date to plan around if you have a child interested in participating in the JNAFHC.
Tests for Junior Riders:
The final tests for the championship include a group divisional hack in an open field (including hand galloping) for all juniors; then they go on a mock foxhunt behind the hosting hunt’s Field Masters. The judges ride with the juniors throughout, judging their etiquette and knowledge in the field, suitability with their mount, and overall enjoyment of the sport. The judges select ten finalists from each group, who then complete an individual test (also in a large open field) where they must navigate a series of obstacles and questions asked of them and their mounts. Each element of these national finalists is not for the faint of heart, no matter what age you are. They are very real tests of both horses and riders and how they handle various challenges that come up riding out in open land and in the woods.
Find more information about the Junior North American Field Hunter Championship at: http://www.jnafhc.com/
Also see the article in Covertside about the Finals: https://mfha.com/2021/11/16/junior-north-american-field-hunter-championship/
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