Monday, August 8, 2016

The Hunter Pace

I had SUCH an amazing time at the hunter pace on Sunday!! It was easily the most fun I’ve had on a ride recently and I think Katai had a blast as well!

Goons in the trailer
I was with an amazing group which really helped. There were four of us total and our leader Jenny (trailerer) has done lots of trail rides, some hunter paces and hunts in the past as well as lots of trail riding. She was on a very tall draft/TB cross who was an amazing large gentleman that wasn’t spooky at all. Then there were three of us from my current barn me, Vanessa, and Allie. All three of us had younger, inexperienced horses and out of the group Katai actually had the most trail riding experience. Vanessa was riding her OTTB, Cat, who is off the track just since early this year (February I think?) and who has never been on a trail ride in her life. Allie was riding her young Quarter horse (I think), Sarge, who has just been ridden consistently since around May and who has also never been on a trail ride. I was, of course, riding Katai who has been on trail rides but never trailered off property for one and who admittedly become a screaming hormonal unicorn at our last experience off property.

My legs look so long in this picture!
I honestly wasn’t sure that I would even be able to get Katai on the trailer especially once I got a look at it. Jenny has a four horse head-to-head trailer and while I knew that the extra space would be welcome (the only trailer I’ve struggled to get Katai on so far is a straight load two horse) I also knew that the very steep ramps and maneuvering needed inside might be tough. Katai started off resistant but calm but as soon as Jenny opened up the second ramp and suggested that we just walk her through a few times Katai walked right through. From there it was easy to just stop her in the middle and back her into her space. We got her secured and easily loaded the other two. Yay for good baby horses!!!

We got on the road but pulled over for gas and to check on the horses about 15 minutes into the trip. I was extremely happy and impressed to see that Katai didn’t have a single bit of sweat on her, was eating her hay, and was perky eared. I can only imagine that she really liked being able to see the other three horses and that it was making her feel more confident.

Leading the pack
I was really pleased and feeling more confident about how she would do once we unloaded than I had. The trip was about an hour and then we pulled into a nice large field with several other trailers. We unloaded and were able to tie two horses to the trailer with their hay bags. The other two had to be held since the trailer just didn’t have enough tie rings. I opted to tie Katai and with her hay bag in front of her she was a perfect lady. She actually ate her hay and didn’t even call to the strange horses. I think it helped that it was very low key and not nearly as electric as her last show experience and, of course, being able to see her three buddies the whole time really helped as well. We all started getting tacked up and ready to ride. I got in the saddle a bit before some of the others and let Katai stretch her legs in the field a bit while everyone else got mounted up.

We left the gate at about 10:08am. I knew that a hunter pace was different than a hunt but I wasn’t exactly sure how it differed. First off, there aren’t hounds for the hunter pace and you don’t go out at the same time with a big group. Instead, you go out with as many or few riders and horses as you chose and try to meet an unidentified time over a specific course that was set by the person who, I believe, normally would lead the hunt. The group that put on this event does Hunts as well and I’ve actually been invited to the one at the end of August!!


What’s fun about the hunter pace is that it’s sort of like a really long cross country course with fewer jumps and no jump judges. You can chose to go at whatever pace you want but we were hoping for a ribbon (1st – 6th) so we went a bit faster than you might on just a normal trail ride. The whole ride (with trot, canter, and some gallop) ended up taking us about 1 hour and 38 minutes was just about 7.5 minutes off the pace and meant that we came in 4th!!!

Gorgeous satin!
It was SO MUCH FUN!!!

I had a great group since both Vanessa and Allie are eventers with young/green horses and this was their first experience. Both are bold riders and happy to push the pace a little but both also wanted to give their horses a great experience and didn’t have extremely fit horses. Both Vanessa and Allie took some jumps and neither Jenny or I took any. We all were in agreement about pace for the whole ride and were happy to walk or gallop as appropriate which made it fun. Amazingly enough with all the young horses, and especially with the lack of trail riding experience, none of the horses were spooky. The draft cross or Katai led through anything spooky for the most part but the OTTB led over two bridges!! She just walked right on and over very calm and composed and the others followed her over just as calmly. It was really pretty remarkable and I think that rider attitude had a lot to do with it since we were all happy, positive, calm, relaxed people that were out just to have fun. 

Allie’s young Quarter Horse was probably the most worried and spent the first half of the ride cantering and jigging but did really well and by the end was really happy and calm and comfortable for our longer sets of canter and gallop towards the end. All four horses were equally sweaty and none of them seemed especially tired out after the ride. I will say that I didn’t actually think the ride would be that long especially with the amount of canter and gallop that we did. It sounds like most of the time these rides are closer to 45 -60 minutes. 
 
Posing ;)
Knowing how long it was and how hard the horses worked, next time I’ll bring liniment and probably give Katai some electrolytes before the ride. Live and learn. At any rate it certainly wasn’t too much for her. She is routinely ridden for 45-60 minutes with a lot of trot and canter and is very fit cardio wise. It was just a lot more hillwork and canter/gallop than she was used to. With that said though, we still did a lot of walk and she was perky eared and bright eyed throughout and after the ride. She got a little bute last night and this morning with her grain to help fend off too much soreness and she’s getting today off, a very light lunge tomorrow just to stretch her out a little, and another day off Wednesday. Then, depending on how she’s feeling on Thursday we may just do an easy walk ride.

LtoR: Allie and Sarge, me and Katai, Vanessa and Cat, Jenny and Ollie
I was SOOOOO proud of her and how she handled everything. Multiple people complemented me on her about everything from her willing and sweet personality, to her ability to keep up with the others, to how fancy she is.  I still don’t think I can quite believe that she’s mine.

8 comments:

  1. I'm so glad you had a great time! I love hunter paces!!

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  2. I'm doing my first hunter pace this weekend and I'm getting really excited now!!

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    1. That's awesome! You'll have so much fun :)

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  3. Congrats, sounds like you both did amazing!

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  4. That sounds so fun. Doing a hunter pace is totally on my bucket list.

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