I just had the best day of my life! I did my first hunter pace and it was an absolute blast. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to do it on Cooper. I was worried about his tender hooves on the rocky trails and I didn’t want him to finish the ride bruised and sore, but if it weren’t for his feet, he would have been wonderful. I have this feeling while I ride him that if I want something to happen (faster, slower, forward, backward, etc.), he’ll do it for me right away. His owner gushes over how he’s changing and gaining muscle in places he didn’t used to have them. He’s become a really good friend and I’m awfully proud of him.
I rode my friend’s horse Finn for the hunter pace. He is also an adorable liver chestnut, but he’s a big boy at around 16 hands. I think he is a grade horse, but probably is mostly quarter horse, with maybe a teensy hint of something gaited. Finny has a gorgeously smooth trot and canter, which made my life easier whenever we needed to canter across a big field. He’s a very huggable horse with a puppy dog personality, an absolute pleasure to spend the day with. He was a complete gentleman on the ride and took great care of me.
There was a good deal of running around to get all of us to the ball. I borrowed Finn, and my friend borrowed a trailer and a truck (both from different people, with clever combinations of bribery and blackmail, I assume). We met up there with three other team members and a total of 60 other riders in their own respective teams. The facility was incredible. I had no idea that this gem rested so ridiculously close to the ranch where I often catch ride.
The only negative aspect of the day was the fact that we didn’t really communicate well with our other team members at the outset of the ride. Half of the riders were competitive and wanted to trot and canter most of the ride, and the other half were happy to travel at a less competitive pace and just have fun. In the end, we were all safe and whole when we crossed the finish line and all of us had a great time.
Our team went out first, and despite our best efforts, we got passed by multiple teams that were in it to win it and jumping everything in sight. Maybe someday I will be brave enough to do a little more jumping.
The views were incredible, and there were lots of insane hills we had to go up and down. There were lots of jumps, but I only went over a few small ones.
I felt like such a newbie there, walking down the long line of trailers and telling everyone I met that their horses were pretty. But it’s true. I didn’t see one ugly horse there, and I didn’t meet a single sour or grumpy rider. It was a great day because everyone I met was friendly and in a great mood. Everyone was enjoying the same sport, both the beginners and the advanced horseman, the western and the english. Our time wasn’t close enough to the winning time to get us any ribbons, but none of us cared in the end.
Poor Finny is all natural, not clipped like most of the horses participating. He got pretty sweaty, but it warmed up enough later in the day that he didn’t get a chill. It was quite a chore currying all that sweat and dirt off him when he dried!
And even though Finny refused to pose for the camera, I think he had fun too. I guess giving him a belly rubs and gobs of treats when I turned him out helped a little!
Happy riding! May you have many great adventures with your wonderful horses!