Fast, furious and perhaps not for the faint-hearted, Lucy Ryan investigates team chasing and discovers an incredible team sport that thrives on adrenaline
When you think of team chasing, you envisage the so called ‘thrusters’ of the world charging over huge wide hedges at 100 miles an hour! However it’s not completely true. Yes you need a bit of bravery and some courage but the main prerequisite for this sport is a sense of humour and team spirit. This relatively new and exciting sport allows you to group together with your friends to try and complete a challenge all together. So gather up your friends and make a team of four riders, pick your event, take a picnic and make a day of it.
Your team will be asked to cross roughly two miles and approximately 25 natural obstacles all at the same time – think old fashioned hunter trial courses but over open countryside and hedges too. Now, if you’re aiming for a prize, you need to think fast and clear, being slow won’t get you to the top of the leader board! If you have more than two rider falls during your round you are eliminated, or if you refuse more than three times at the same fence you’re also eliminated. The novice section is a great introduction to the sport. Its height is a maximum of 3’3 however don’t be put off – remember you brush through the majority of it as many of the jumps are hedges. Or if you’re a bit braver, have a go at the intermediate course (approx 3’6). Or if you’re completely mad, try and tackle the humungous open course (fences at least 3’6).
The only preparation that would be most beneficial to your chances of completing a team chase is to get as much hunting under your belt as possible. The best prep for you and your horse is to cross as much natural country as possible, tackling various obstacles along the way. Plus hunting regularly will ensure that your horse is perfectly fit enough to complete the challenge.
Where did team chasing come from?
It all started over a lunch with Alan Mouncer (sports producer at BBC) who invited along his friend Douglas Bunn. Alan wanted Douglas’ advice on new ideas for Hickstead, so Douglas suggested that a team chase of four riders be put to the test over the natural formidable fences on the Hickstead Estate. Twenty teams were invited consisting of riders from a range of equestrian disciplines and the team chase was televised live on Good Friday. That was the start of team chasing. Equestrians all over the country soon realised that team chasing could become a very attractive sport as it combined the thrill of the chase, the speed of racing, the skill of eventing and the discipline of show jumping with spectacular ups and downs enjoyed by both competitors and spectators alike.
Fun and affordable
You would think crossing some of the best country in the UK in some of the most beautiful parts of our countryside over superbly built courses would cost a fair bob, however it’s totally affordable. Depending on whether it’s a qualifier event or an unaffiliated event, the price ranges per team member from £15-25. You’d only be able to go around a show jumping arena twice for that! So what are you waiting for, get team chasing.
Where to get started
Great news! A team chase event is happening near you. Head down to Manor Farm, Semer near Ipswich on Sunday November 6 to have a go. You can even have a warm up around the novice hunter trial. Check www.teamchasing.co.uk for schedules and further details.
If you’re looking for more information head on to the British team chasing website www.teamchasing.co.uk. Plus there are various clips and videos there giving you visual insight into the world of team chasing.