Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Weekend Part 3: Hunter Pace

Sorry to go sappy on everyone yesterday. Some of the baby horse struggles have got me down on top of my usual level of missing Mikey. For some reason yesterday hit overload and then melted down. Probably because I hit overload while in public on the bus and was just trying to keep it together because I had errands to run too.


I took Mikey to a hunter pace last year and had an awesome time, so I asked the same girl who went with us last year if she wanted to go to one a couple hours away (we'll call her E). She said sure, and so we registered online, loaded up, and off we went!

E has a 6 year old OTTB mare named Mattilynn who is eventing at Novice right now. She is quite fancy and talented, and happens to be extremely similar to Penn in age, height, markings and color. They each have some sort of star, but hers transitions into a thin stripe and a snip. She has two socks I believe, where Penn has four. They're almost the same height, they are the same age (born within a month of each other), and they're the same light bay color. Pas de deux anyone? E isn't sure she wants to event past novice or training, so she's coming with me to recognized dressage shows next year and we're both aiming at first level...

Anyway, we got there a hair late (11:50 for a 12:30 ride time...) and after checking in, getting horses off the trailer, getting everything tacked up and ready, and making the 10 min hike to start, we were only 7 minutes late, haha. Luckily, the starters were not displeased with us and there was actually a line of people waiting to start.

Penn was super for getting ready at the trailer by the way. While I curse the person who taught him rearing will get him out of doing things, I praise the person (who may be the same person, but I doubt it) that taught him to ground tie. That horse stood in a new location, with horses and activity going on all around him, without moving or eating grass. I don't trust him to tie to the trailer when he barely ties in the barn, so the whole keeping your feet still while not eating grass while standing in a field makes tacking up a whole lot easier.

So each of us had glanced at the map, but we figured there'd be signs, markers on the trees etc that let you know you were going the right way. The hunter pace we did last year was marked every 40-50 feet with plastic ties in the trees or whatever. Oops. It's a good thing I brought my phone because I had to pull the map off of the farm's Facebook so we knew we were going the right way at times! We did count jumps, which was very helpful in letting us find our way!

The map neither of us thought we really needed to memorize. Oops.
Not marked are the mandatory flags in the field between fences 4 & 5, and the mandatory flag in the dressage ring between 19 and 20. We liked those flags, they pointed us in the right direction!
Believe it or not, Penn led for 99% of the ride! Both horses started out quite up and forward and spooky, and we had Penn lead because he would be a good wall for Matti to run into because she was all gung-ho and ready to run cross country, so she was jigging and not leadership material. He was very spooky (for him) through fence 4 or so, and it was funny because we'd be walking or trotting along and he'd see something and just jam on the brakes, then remember that's bad and he'd lurch forward. Mattilynn has been around the block- she's done two seasons in Aiken and been out eventing for two years after a $242 career at the track. She would not lead past anything he stopped at. Who knew baby horse would be the brave one?

One of the few ears pictures I took. We were trotting for most of the ride!
Penn also found his balance quickly. Trotting through the fields did him a solid. He stumbled a couple times and then decided he needed to pay attention to where his feet were. He then decided to lay on my hands, but that's a whole 'nother thing and I wasn't going to be able to fix that out in the fields... so I held him up. Ugh. There was one point early in the trail between fence 4 and the field it leads out into where the trail went down a steep hill. There were marks from where previous teams had slid, eek. I encouraged Penn down the side of the path because it looked less worn and a little firmer, but his hind end almost slid out from under him. At that point he refused to keep going and was starting to tantrum a little. Well since Penn stopped and came back, Matti refused to lead down the hill and E was just pissing her off trying to get her down. I decided to try again now that Matti was down to the point where Penn had slid. I fed him all the rein he wanted so I wouldn't have any contact on his face but I hadn't dropped him entirely, leaned back, leg on. Don't you know it- that little guy found his legs and feet, tucked his haunches under himself so he was straight, and carefully picked his way down? Without sliding once. I was a proud momma! Mattilynn, of course, followed right behind him. Silly mare.

Fence 16 was the water complex- a major reason I wanted to go to this hunter pace. If you've been following Penn's story, you know we had a battle over water and puddles. It was one of things Mattilynn did lead us through because I didn't want to make a scene in public over it. He got right up to the edge and then wouldn't go closer. Lots of side to side weaving. E came back around with Mattilynn and "picked us up" and he followed her right in. He was super unsure, so I made him come back around and go in by himself, which he did with minimal complaint. Good boy! We followed the course around and it came back past the water so I had him go in again. He fussed for a step then went in. He walked through it with his nose between his knees, lifting his hooves way up and was like "WTF IS THIS MOM!!!!!!!!!!" He was too happy to leave and I gave him a pat for being a good boy and trying. If there was time, I'd have loved to just had him stand in it for 5-10 min, and walk and trot laps through it until it was NBD. Oh well, not this time. Trainer sometimes brings horses out to this farm to xc school and the farm does xc schooling days and mini trials and HTs, so there will be plenty of opportunity next year.

By this point, Penn was a super duper leader and Matti was starting to relax. E decided she didn't really want to jump anything and get Matti all stirred up. She was happy with the hillwork that the mare was getting.

The only problem we had on course was right after jump 28, and we were happy we knew about it beforehand (another rider had told us to beware before we started). There was a washed out section of the course going back into the woods, and it was only 2' wide or so, and it looked like a small muddy stream running across the path. We got passed right before jump 28, which turned out to be good for us, but bad for them. The first horse jumped the muddy bit, but the second jumped and landed in it. And promptly sank up to his chest, faceplanted into the mud and catapulted his rider face first into the mud. He freaked out, backed himself into it more, and sank his back legs up to his butt cheeks. The warning we had gotten was that horses would sink up to their chests in it, but we thought it was exaggeration. Nope. It wasn't. We would have warned the pair that passed us, but we didn't know it was coming up. Luckily, everyone was ok. The horse that got stuck in it had mud all over his face and ears and up all of his legs.

E and I decided that there was no way in hell we were going to go over it. Neither of us thought it was worth it to possibly damage our horses on a trail ride. E could have convinced Mattilynn to jump it, but Penn had just learned to jump 3 days before and I had been working very hard at making large deposits in Penn's Water/Soft Footing Trust Bank. It seemed like a sure way to make a withdrawal that would bounce in my account there. There was a path around, and we decided to take it and chance being eliminated. We saw fence 31 off that direction, so off we trucked. I didn't realize until I took a good look at the map that we cut out a big loop of the trail. I knew we had missed fences 29 and 30, but we figured they were logs in the woods and NBD on missing a small part of the trail. Oops. Oh well. No one ever said anything, and our horses still trust us and are in one piece.

We finished!
We ended up in 7th place out of 13 or so teams in the flat division (there were jumping, flat, and trail riders divisions). Due to our detour at the muddy water and not stopping at the Cider Break (which we totally didn't realize was there because no one was standing there and we were confused about where to go at the time), we should have been MUCH lower in the standings. Oh well. As it was, we were 12:07 over time, so I imagine we should have been an additional 2 min for the Cider Break and 5-8 min for our detour, so at least 20 min over instead of 12. Oops again.

It was a good day for us though. E got to take Mattilynn out schooling on her own. Penn got another ride on the trailer, another eyeful of the world, and made some good steps in learning about keeping his own balance. Plus more experience leading on the trail, squishy footing, and water!

"Hi Mommy, you said to stand here so I'm standing here."
A good look at the narrower low withers on top of considerably wider shoulders.

I was trying to get a conformation shot of him, or something that would let me see how his filling out was going. My trailer was in the way of me getting in the right spot. FYI not our car. The car had parked next to the silver trailer next to us, then the person parking horse trailers forced me to get that close to it. The closeness of trailers made it hard to back out, especially because there was a horse tied to the silver trailer, and I asked them to move him closer to their trailer because I didn't want to chance hitting him, and they looked at me like I was crazy. Umm, what?

Penn's bum is on the left and is getting quite round! It's hard to see because of the shadows.
I do haul with the top doors shut, FYI haha. We had loaded both horses and shut the ramp while we went to check on scores.

Checking on Penn and Mattilynn when we stopped for lunch/dinner. And a good shot of  Husband's custom head divider with bars instead of a metal sheet. It needs derusted and painted again... Everything inside was supposed to be that white you see at the bottom near the sawdust, but I needed the trailer before he got that far in painting the inside.

When we got home, this thing was parked in my trailer parking spot, which irked me. I had killed the grass by the tires so when they weed wacked around the trailers, my tire covers wouldn't get sliced up. Now I have to kill new grass. Trainer had warned me before I got home. "There was no talking to them about where to park it so you would have your spot. Sorry!" A new boarder already not listening about what to do with their stuff? Great. On an interesting note, I do like their mirror thing on finding the ball. I'm good at hooking up, but I sometimes spend too much time working on lining up those last couple inches side to side and forward and back. Oh Husband!

1 comment:

  1. oooh that mirror is super clever! my truck has a cap that has a bumper sticker right smack in the middle, plus my trailer has a 'V' down the front so alignment is not too tough... but that mirror... clever!

    anyway tho - what a great outing, and probably a wise choice to avoid the horse-eating (literally) washed out area. glad penn was a good boy!