with Horse and Hound

Essex Fox Hounds Master’s Chase: A Good Community Event

essex masters day1Pony stick racing over hurdles  /  Priscilla K. Miller photo

The Master’s Chase is a fun-filled annual event that hunts can put on as a fund raiser for a worthy cause and reach out to their community of non-riders as well. Billed as “family fun for horse and non-horse people alike,” Essex Fox Hounds Master’s Chase will feature amateur racing for field hunters and ponies, adults and children, tailgating, and a group of local vendors at Natirar Park, 2 Main Street, in Peapack, New Jersey on Saturday, October 5, starting at noon. The day is sandwiched between a weekend of events with a Friday night party and a Sunday hunt.

It all traces back to the Farmer’s Day Races of the early twentieth century in which hunt clubs invited farmers in their hunting countries to a picnic and day at the races. For those hunts that do not hold annual point-to-points or sanctioned steeplechase races, it’s a fine way to keep racing alive and give everyone a taste of the excitement. The Essex Fox Hounds donate all proceeds to the non-profit Countryside Alliance of Somerset Hills for the preservation of farmlands.

essex masters day2The Field Master’s Chase gets underway.  /  Priscilla K. Miller photo

There will be a tailgating area in the middle of the field with about thirty to fifty parking spots where families can picnic while watching the races and other events. Awards will be presented for the best tailgate spread.

Races include lead line races for children under seven, a foxhunters’ relay race, stick pony races, junior and senior jumping and flat races, and Field Master Chases for ponies, juniors, and seniors.

Along with races there are demonstrations of fly-fishing, bird dogs, and huntsman and foxhounds.

“Overall this is like the Far Hills Race Meeting but on a much smaller scale and much more family friendly,” said Michelle Harazim, Essex Fox Hounds volunteer.

And for the first time this year there will also be a small vendor village featuring a few local purveyors such as antique places and local wood products from Basking Ridge.

“It will be a day for families and locals to come out to eat, drink, and watch horses race while supporting the countryside,” said Harazim.

The Master’s Chase is open to all interested amateur riders. Click for more information, sponsorship forms, tailgate forms, tickets to the event, race conditions, and rider entries.

Posted September 18, 2019

This story was previously published in Patch.com of which the author is a staff member.

essex masters day3.priscilla k. millerA demonstration by huntsman and hounds  /   Priscilla K. Miller photo