Monday, September 12, 2016

OCBSC Hunter Pace

A little while ago a saddle club (Who knew those were actual things and not just a book series?) just west of Rochester decided they were going to host a beginner friendly hunter pace at one of the local parks. I didn't have much interest in it because there were only going to be a few jumps, all set at 18" or lower. Very beginner friendly.

However, a whole bunch of girls from the barn wanted to go since the pace down at Cohocton is too hard core for riders whose trail experience extends to some walking and trotting around the barn property. BM begged me to sign on as an outrider for a couple of the least experienced girls. I was still feeling pretty meh about the whole thing until money was dangled in front of me for trailering and my entry fee got covered. Alright, fine. Give me monies for riding my own horse. I guess I can do it.


Of course last week I dealt with some mysterious NQR-ness in Bobby's RF that earned him the week off to laze about. Friday morning I stuck him on the longe to make the decision if I was going to be able to take him or if I'd have to take Momo and lo and behold he was sound as could be. I definitely feel like the culprit was too much jumping on hard ground making him sore, and his mini vacation was all the doctor would have ordered, buuuuut....awfully suspicious that flat work made him lame and not the jumping itself.

Not saying it's all in your bad attitude head, Bobby....

Oh wait. Yes I am.

half of the group from our barn

Since Bobby was a jigging, sideways running, fire breathing dragon at the last pace and I was going to be responsible for beginner-type riders lives, I gave him a dose of Quietex before we left. It was a good choice as he was content to stand patiently and let Chance and Romeo school over the jumps, and while he had happy, perked ears the whole ride, there was zero jigging involved.

We got there plenty early to avoid the worst of the heat so we were the first team out. I made my poor children head right off at a trot and keep up the pace until we hit the woods and there was no choice but to walk. The pace started off pretty stop and go as the actual paths themselves were beautifully maintained, but we had to cut through basically a deer trail for quite awhile before getting dumped out in an open field and then hanging a sharp right through a mowed strip through the weeds following the power line where we were on walk-only hole watch.

Most of the trails were through the woods so we were in shade most of the ride which was amazing. Once we made it through the first big open field, we had to cross a road, wind through some more woods at the walk, and then we hit the "creek crossing".

also bobby's face upon seeing the creek

The creek was completely dried up as we haven't had significant rain up here in, oh I don't know, six months or so. That didn't change the fact that it was an almost vertical drop down into the super rocky bed and then a vertical climb right back up the other side. I should have gotten a picture, but I was too busy telling my kids to dismount and stay out of their horse's way should they think about trying to leap down into it or leap out of it. Fortunately everyone carefully picked their way down, across, and up and we were all able to get back on without issue. Maybe not the best path for a beginner geared trail...

Our other group of riders was just coming to the field we'd left before crossing the road and Romeo--who at this point had been content to truck along politely because Bobby is his bitch lover--saw them and could barely be convinced to move from his statue pose. He then turned into a complete dick, and I taught a mini lesson on how to convince an old, grouchy lesson pony to get the fuck over himself and pay attention.

bad romeo towards the end trying to be rid of his rider.
bobby's just cheesing for the cameras.

The pace was only supposed to be six miles, but the group later posted it was seven. I know that doesn't really seem like much, and honestly the ponies were all fit to fight right up to the end, but it seems like a really long time when you don't know the trails and you have no idea how much longer you're supposed to keep following the damn ribbons. Once we burst up the hill and saw our group of parents and supporters, we were all happy to know the end was in sight.

how cute are my grinning children?

The kids did a great job of keeping up with the pace I set. We did a whole lot of trotting for long stretches, and they never once begged for mercy complained. We crossed the finish line in an hour and nine minutes--eleven minutes faster than the optimum time and ten minutes faster than our barn's other group with the more experienced kids. Ribbons (!!) will be sent out this week, but we finished fourth with the other team winning. Don't care, still got satin, and still got to say we won the speed race.

outrider ponies say babysitting kids is tough work.
better give us extra cookies!

Even though there weren't any jumps that were exciting for Bobby and I, the trails were still great and the park was close enough to the barn that I'd definitely do this pace again. It might also be our last "show" for the season as I'm leaning pretty heavily towards not entering the jumper derby. The ground is basically cement from a summer's worth of no rain, and I'd rather have a sound horse to play with over the winter instead of an intermittently sore and grouchy one.


  1. Idaho needs trail rides with ribbons. This sounds amazing.

  2. That really does sound super fun! So glad Bobby decided he was game for it

  3. What fun!! We haven't had any rain here in PA either and it sucks. Especially when all you have to ride on is pastures and crop fields. Wahhhh!

  4. I would be more than happy to send you our rain.... ugh. But yay for satin! I need to find things like this near me.

  5. How I these things scored if it isn't the fastest team that wins?

    1. Team closest to the optimum time wins but you don't find out the time until afterwards. The point is to learn what a good "hunter pace" is by feel and apply that to whatever course is marked.

    2. Exactly right! Most are split into different speed divisons with different optimum times so that the people that know they're going to trot and canter the whole time aren't aiming for the same time as the people that are mostly just there for a trail ride type atmosphere.

  6. A hunter pace is still on my riding bucket list. This ones sounds right up my alley with itty bitty jumps.

  7. That's so cool!! High five on the fourth, solidarity over here from me and the pony with our matching 4th place hunter pace ribbon ;)

  8. Way to be speedy! Sounds like fun :)

  9. Those kids are so lucky you took them out on an adventure. I bet they just loved it

  10. Sounds like a great experience! Your kids look so happy, so clearly you did your job well :)
    Glad Bobby is feeling better!

  11. Would you baby sit me for free? I mean I could bring a flask I guess.. twist my arm


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