Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Weekend Hunter Paces Pt. II

As I was playing on facebook between rides Saturday, the time hop memories thing reminded me that it had been five years to the day that Bobby went on his first hunter pace at the same place we were headed to on Sunday. Bobby had never seen cross country jumps before, and it was his first season doing real riding horse things.

good job, baby horse!

Five years ago, Bobby did a better job being a respectable fucking citizen than he did this year.

"who me? standing here so nicely waiting to head out even after i untied myself?"

My barn brought five pairs (including us). We split into teams of two, one with the less experienced horses who were going to go slow and take their time, and then W and I went out in the speed division with Bobby and dear old Ralphie. Everyone was poking fun at poor Ralph, saying W would have to ride home on the back of Bobby with me while we dragged the fatty's carcass home. Ralph's a lazy dude, but he really is plenty in shape so while it was fun to make fun of him, we weren't actually too worried.

watching the group before us head out

The start of the pace was up a short but steep, rocky incline that you had to blast up before being dumped into miles of farmland. Both horses handled it with no problems, and Ralph landed running so we went ahead and set off at a good trot.

go ponies, go!

Unfortunately, our good trot brought us right up to our slow group in no time, and a pair behind us had the same idea so we all got funneled into a tight pack of trotting horses. Bobby was not pleased with this arrangement and immediately started running sideways. Everyone else was behaving, and the behaving horses got to do some jumps which just set Bobby off even more.

We were finally able to disconnect from the slow group and were stuck with just the other pair as we made our way through the first woods. I got Bobby to jump a few things since he was leading and was still able to sort of function though it took a lot of pony club kicking and growling at him to just go the fuck forward.

The other pair zig zagged around us as I apologized profusely for my lovely horse swinging back and forth across the trail like a deranged llama. They kept up a good pace and stayed far enough ahead of us the whole time that they rarely got close enough to bring out Rage Monster Magee.

Rage Monster Magee's brain was already fried though.

(lots and lots of swearing in all of these. you've been warned.)

Bobby kept trying to run sideways, only there was a fucking wire fence in the hedgerow so that really wasn't a smart idea. I was finally able to beat him forward enough that he picked up the canter, and then after a little more beating he was going mostly straight. A good mile long gallop uphill put the sideways cantering bullshit mostly to rest, and we were able to communicate a little better after that.

It was here, right off the bat, that Ralphie showed us how much of a rock star he was going to be for the day. He stayed in the canter the whole way up behind us, and when we pulled up he was still happy to go along. As long as Bobby led, he matched pace with us and even offered up a few trots on his own. It was so fun to see him enjoying himself instead of moping around the ring doing up-down lessons.

I tried to get Bobby over some jumps after our gallop, but it was...

....really not the most fun I've ever had. Even with his martingale on, his back was so hollow and his head so high up in my face that he'd literally pogo stick hop over things because I couldn't get him to stretch out and go forward. 

Whenever we went into the woods, he was a little better and we were able to canter a few fences in a row with some semblance of relaxation. I don't know if the wide open spaces were doing him in, or if he was just thinking up Bobby Reasons, but whereas five years ago when his experience level was jumping on and off for all of six months in his whole life and he jumped everything on this pace, this time we jumped maybe a dozen things total. 

That was kind of a bummer, but we were in good company, and we finally reached an agreement that he wouldn't canter sideways if he could extended trot instead. Bobby can get trucking at the trot, and he never fucking tires (just ask my back) so we were covering ground at a good clip.

BM accidentally activated the big trot while warming up last week.
you can't help but ride it out once he gets going because it's so fun.

There was only one section where we had to walk because of footing, and it was more that it was gravel and round stones mixed together made it a tripping hazard than being too hard. My barefoot horse absolutely cruised over everything, rocky or not. I feel for everyone with horses that are throwing shoes every which way because I've been there, but the year it took to get this horse comfortable without them was the best decision ever

We rode back into the parking area and checked in as BM came over to tell us she hadn't even had time to nap because we'd gotten back so quickly. Both boys were sweaty (it was in the upper eighties), but aside from being ravenous, neither of them looked any worse for wear. Honestly I don't think Bobby drew a deep breath the whole time. Six miles isn't an unreasonable distance for any horse, but it was nice to see that our work this spring paid off and I'm sitting on a big, fit brute of a creature. 

"hi, pony. did you get any snacks yet?"

We were given candy and carrots for completing, and ribbons were awarded for how close you got to the time--within a certain limit you got a blue ribbon, outside of it you got a red. Optimum time was 70 minutes and W and I came in right at 72. Pretty dang good if I do say so myself! The slow group was just ten minutes over their optimum so they got blue ribbons, too.

bobby had no problems mauling anyone he could reach for snacks.

I think for the next one (the end of July), I'm going to ease the way with a little calming paste to see if it's enough to slow Bobby's brain down so that he can process things. Things like, just because there are other horses within a ten mile radius does not mean we need to race them. Bobby's not much of a team player.

he can't even pose with his team.


  1. This looks like a blast- you know, when Bobby's brain is functioning correctly. :P

  2. Hunter paces are so much fun but can be a bit blah when the horse doesn't want to play nice!

  3. Poor Carly, that first video totally reminded me of App back in his day with his cantering sideways bullcrap and total middle finger to the rider. I TOTALLY know what that is like. At least you finished and didn't come off, and I would second the notion of a calming paste. Better living through pharmaceuticals has always been a win in my book!

  4. Man that path on the side of the field looks like an awesome place to canter!

    Nice job on your optimum time ribbon!

    PS - I am jealous of your barefoot horse!

  5. I love all of the swearing. PIIIIIG! :-D

  6. Ughhhhhh. I hate the sideways jig. At least the canter/gallop looks smooth and forward!

  7. Oh Bobby. Outside of antics, the hunter pace sounds fun. I really want to do one sometime.

  8. Hahaha Bobby makes me laugh. Sorry he was such a pig.

  9. Well...at least you survived! Big trot looks amazing!

  10. Ok. So can we go be professional paper chasers or hunter pacers together?!?

  11. "Does not play well with others."

    Poor Bobby. It's a rough life.

  12. I didn't realize just how SIDEWAYS he gets. Holy shit Bobby

  13. Oh Bobby hahah! Jealous of the barefoot thing, my horses are barefoot but are pretty wimpy on gravel/harder surfaces.

  14. Sounds like fun! Just maybe on Ralphie and not Bobby lol

  15. I know it was super frustrating, but damn that made for some hilarious video content.

  16. Hahahaha that first video sounds like the conversation I have with Pearl every damn ride. IF YOU WOULD QUIT BEING AN ASS AND BURSTING INTO CANTER WITHOUT ME ASKING YOU TO, THEN I WOULD ASK YOU AND THEN YOU WOULD GET TO CANTER.


If you can't say anything nice, fuck off.