Tuesday, September 17, 2013

A Hunter Pace Our Way

A lot of good things have happened over the last couple weeks. A change, I know, from my recent posts. So I am playing catch up.

Starting with Peggy's and my Hunter Pace adventure. Every year a group holds two Hunter Paces at scenic farms in the area. I missed the spring one and wanted to make it to the fall one. Since it fell on the weekend after the Welsh show I knew Mom could not go. Peggy said she would ride Comrade. After much back and forth, I decided to ride Rosemary. She really needs the experience of trails and other horses.
Of course, I had to get up crazy early. What fun horse things happen late? Mom helped by parking the trailer by the barn and I loaded everything but the pony the night before. The morning of, I gave the remaining horses some hay before getting Rosemary. Well... she decided it was a great time to run, buck and do general Cob antics. I could have stressed about running late, but instead I took pictures and a video :)
Gingerbread Girl

I called Peggy to let her know that I had not even loaded yet and as such would be late. Rosemary finally settled and let me nab her. I walked her straight from the field, right onto the trailer. Bless her, she loaded and stood while I went behind to put up the butt bar. One last check of the barn and we were off. This was my first solo drive of the trailer with a horse loaded. It actually was a little easier with Rosemary's weight stabilizing the trailer. I still asked Peggy to do the long drive because I so was not ready to take on Hwy 95.
We loaded Comrade's hay, which Rosemary promptly started eating, and then the pony. All the bonding the previous weekend, made them great trailer buddies. The drive was smooth, except for the one turn we missed. Still don't know how we missed that, but we got there.
The Hunter Pace is suppose to mimic the speed and terrain found during a hunt and has different divisions depending on what you want to do. They have Fast Timers, Optimum Time, Best Dressed, Best Pair. The groups go by age too and whether you jump or not. For us the only choice was Senior Optimum Time. All the participants in the group do the ride and the times are recorded. Then those with the time closed to the average wins. The last time we did this the three of us came away in third. We mostly do it because it is a great ride and good experience for the horses.

Ponies ready to go

When we had the horses tacked and our numbers on, we headed for the start of this 5 mile adventure. Rosemary was a little up being around so many other horses, but she was not acting stupid. Once we were on the trail she settled right into her ground covering, hip swinging walk. Poor Comrade had to work to keep up. Mainly he figured trotting was easier. The first down hill was a challenge. Rosemary is still learning to sit on her butt, rather than her forehand. When we came to a clearing we picked up a trot to see if Comrade would settle. Mr. Show Off Cob trotted off leaving Rosemary in the dust. Hard to keep up with all that suspension and push. Really pretty to watch though. The clearing changed back to woods and Rosemary had to stop and look at the dip in the ground, but not too long since Comrade was going around a bend. The things she noticed on this ride were amazing. She could probably tell you how many different footings and dips there were the whole ride.

I loved watching her expressive ears during the ride

Next we walked onto a power line and I noted the batch of forgotten hot wire. This lead to the road running at the front of the farm. Rosemary had to stop and check out the horses turn out across the road. As we went back into the woods, the trail narrowed. Comrade had to go ahead of us, so that Rosemary could see nothing was going to eat her. She never pitched a fit, just quietly said "Nope, not going first." Then she would follow right behind. We passed the water, got kick out of the ponies reaction to the glare off the water and the canoe laying by the trail. Rosemary's little ears were working over time checking everything out. When an long straight opened, we did some trot. It was tough since it was also a gentle down hill, but they handled it well. The end brought a wooden slat bridge. Rosemary suprisingly walked on, stopped, looked then kept going. We were at another power line.
Now this is where things get interesting. We are talking and laughing going up and down hills. Then I glance down and notice a batch of forgotten hot wire. Hmm.... Did'nt I see that before? Further along, we saw the road looming before us. Geez!!! Head slap. We missed a turn. Dumbfounded we contemplate redoing the path or backtracking. As we decided to backtrack, a number of other teams came our way. We had to pull over to let them pass and answer the inevitable "Why are you going the wrong way?" One team was part of the organizers and was like "You should not have gone over a wooden bridge, we made the turn go up a hill." Yep leave it to us to take a detour. Both ponies handled the fact that other horses were going one  way, while we went the other.
So back over the hills, the bridge and back up the path we went. Cough, cough, I think we added an extra mile with our little side trip. When we finally saw the turn, I knew exactly what had happened to make us miss it. A DAMN HORSEFLY!!! I had my phone out trying to take a picture, which was not working because I had to keep it in my bra and it got sweaty. About that time Peggy asked if we could trot to get away from a huge horsefly. So I was tucking my phone away and then the horse fly came after Rosemary. During all this we both walked right by the turn, then trotted off in ignorant bliss. Ah well, the weather was great for the extra mileage.

Rosemary "Why a I in behind?" Me "Because I want a picture :)"

 Back on course, we followed the path which lead to a logging road. Along this road Rosemary was fascinated by the junk yard stuff. Luckily this was a wide area because a few teams came up fast behind us, which Rosemary thought was really rude, and we pulled over to let them pass. One team asked "Are those Morgans?" I took it as a compliment since I do see some Morgan in the Cobs, but we told them their breed.  As the teams trotted off, both of ours we okay being left behind. The logging road lead to soy bean fields. At the start the person said to try not to trample the beans. I thought that was odd until I heard the hounds. The course went all around the beans, but you had to pass by kenneled hounds and a few just on ropes. These were not nice sounding hounds. They barked and growled. At first I thought Rosemary would walk by okay, but then she stopped and faced the dogs as if realizing bad vibes came from that way. Comrade, too, was hugging the beans trying to stay far away. Peggy was able to get Comrade walking, and Rosemary tucked herself so he was between her and the dogs. I have to admit, we trampled a few beans.
When we finished the loop, we again pulled over to let a group by. I was surprised to recognize a friend in the group. Quick introductions were exchanged before we all continued the ride. We looped through trees, trotted and open hard packed path and even had a wooded portion that reminded us of home. I could tell Rosemary was tired. Comrade continued to do his trot catch ups with endless energy. I guess we have improved his fitness. One last downhill was steep and shadowed. Rosemary started down, but her tired butt and unknown footing made her stop. Comrade to the rescue took the lead. Then all she had to think about was her own butt. I could not have been more proud of how she handled and improved during the ride.
The last portion edged a field before going up a little hill to the finish. We could see a number of teams, so we took our time. As we started up the hill, a guy with a cone on his head was walking with the propery owner who was mounted. Our horses both looked at the guy, and decided to go wide around the scary cone. The owner was impressed with the ponies and even asked "Is he a Stallion?" When we said no she said "Well he should be." Considering Rosemary was glued to his side at the time, he would have had to be an exceptional stallion to deal with a mare that close.
The finish was in sight and we both picked up a trot to cross the line. Our beautiful, long ride was done and we both totally appreciated our ponies after seeing some of the others. By the time we untacked the horses were not even sweaty anymore. With a nice breeze, we were able to load them on the trailer to stay cool. All the Welsh shows have taught them patience and they just settled to eating hay out of Rosemary's bag. Finally after lunch, drinks and a chat with my friend we noticed the ride had caught up with Comrade. He was snoozing with Rosemary.
Oh and I must say we were dubbed "The Lost Ones." Some of the teams that saw us backtracking, did not see us again on trail. They were happy when they recognized the ponies at the trailer realizing we had found our way and would not need rescuing. Leave it to Peggy and me to spice up a Hunter Pace.


  1. Aw, what good ponies! I would love to try that someday, you are so lucky to live in Virginia.

  2. I love hunter paces! Haven't done one in years - I'm jealous :)