Young Monticello horseman named champion
in foxhunting tournament

Ashley Hunter
ECB Publishing, Inc.

A young Monticello horseman has received recognition for his participation in the Junior North American Field Hunter Championship (JNAFHC) competition that was hosted in November, 2018.
Last year, the Live Oak Hounds sent four young riders to a foxhunting tournament that was hosted in Orlean, VA. by the Old Dominion Hunt.
One of the riders was Gavin Sacco, of Monticello.
The riders were sent to JNAFHC’s yearly competition for junior fox hunting riders, during which the young riders are judged on their abilities to hunt in a safe and capable manner while correctly exemplifying the rules of the hunting field. Riders are also expected to compete in a manner that is correct for both the rider and the horse.
The competition is designed for riders who are 18 years old and younger.
The riders are mounted on foxhunting ponies or hunt horses.
The competition started in regional areas around the United States. Judges rode in the hunting field observing the junior entries. If juniors were approved and selected, they went on to the national final.
The foxhunting event had four divisions, with other 71 young riders from 13 states participating.
There were 27 different hunts for the youth to compete in, starting with a “flat” class, in which the judges consider the riders based on their equitation and ability to ride in a controlled, correct manner. The horses are judged on their cooperativeness and suitability to perform as a fox hunter.
After the flat class, a mock hunt is conducted.
During the mock hunt, the competitors were led by a field master through a course of difficult jumps and other obstacles, such as water courses and other challenging terrains.
Judges were placed at various locations in order to observe the riders and horses on their performance while the riders led their mounts through the hunting course and maintained a safe distance from the other horses and riders.
Out of the 71 participants, Gavin Sacco, of Monticello, was named the event champion in the First Flight 12-and-under division for jumping fences and galloping.
Sacco is 12 years old and has been hunting for five years; throughout that time, Sacco has performed in a variety of shows and hunting courses.
Sacco competed on his horse, Toffee.
His sister, Gabbie Sacco, won the First Flight 13-and-over division during 2017’s finals tournament.
Gavin blew his horn while jumping the last fence in the individual part of the competition!
According to the JNAFHC, children are the future of foxhunting.
The goal of the JNAFHC is to instill in young riders a lifelong passion for the sport that many consider a lifestyle.
The championship provides young riders with the opportunity to experience a great day of hunting, meet new friends, ride a variety of territory, and realize how important the countryside is and the necessity to protect it for future generations.
Two other area participants and recognized fox hunters were Grace Lemons, of Tallahassee, who won 4th place (Hill Toppers 11-and-over, jumping smaller fences, slower pace), Lemons is 18-years-old and has hunted for three years; and Anna Becker, also of Tallahassee, who conquered in 9th place, of Tallahassee (Hill Toppers 11-and-over, jumping smaller fences, slower pace, all ages). Becker is 15-years-old and has hunted 2 years. Becker competed on Fable, a pony in her second season of hunting and Lemon competed on Vegas, a pinto horse in his third season of hunting.