My barn took six horses down to Avon for the pony club and/or hunt club's hunter pace. BM's trailer had to stop at a gas station so I continued on by myself with Bobby. I had a general idea where I was going. That particular area is like its own confined Area II where all the things eventing and hunting go on, so I knew if I got to the general area of where the horse trials are held, I'd be good to go.
|snacking on roadside weeds instead of|
grass while waiting for the rest of the barn
Once I was parked and had Bobby unloaded, I finally saw the other two trailers coming in from the complete opposite direction. Again, if you get to the general area, you will run into a horse event before too long. I got Bobby tacked up and headed way down the road to meet up with them.
|trailers and horses everywhere!|
Bobby can be a complete asshole, and sometimes I really want to brain him, but he's worth his weight in gold in situations like this. He stood quietly at the trailer by himself while I got us ready, waited at my step stool while I clambered on, and then strolled down the road on the buckle without a care in the world before hanging out in the middle of a group of horses in various stages of readiness before we all headed over to the start.
|waiting patiently for bm to sign us up|
It was a good half mile walk to get to the timer after we'd paid, and then another half mile before the road finally ended and we set off into the first field.
|my team ended up being another dark bay ottb and a dark bay morgan. we were all|
very matchy matchy. photo credit: curt grant
It was a hot 85* out, but the wind was blowing so it stayed manageable. We were also in the woods for most of it, following alongside the Genesee River which was really pretty. Bobby and Wym--the other OTTB--matched strides for awhile before bouncing back and forth in the lead. Bobby doesn't really care where he is as long as the horse in front of him is moving faster than he is. That worked out well for the first half of the ride where there wasn't a lot of jumping and when the track narrowed Bobby somehow always ended up in front anyway.
|photo credit: curt grant|
It became an issue when another group came running right up our asses just as we came to a dried creek crossing. The horses had to step down into the creek bed and then launch straight up a big bank that led steeply uphill. Bobby led and handled it fine, Wym followed without much hesitation, and then our baby horse bringing up the rear nearly got smashed into by this group.
Baby Horse had followed us bravely over everything else so far because he didn't want to get left behind, but faced with this tricky question and a new pack of friends behind him, he decided it would be okay to stay on his side of the creek. Fortunately one of the riders gave him a lead and he figured it out. We let the whole group pass since they were clearly going for a faster time than we were, and as they took off up the hill Wym lost his shit.
I forced Bobby to walk up the hill while using him as an e-brake for Wym who was smashed into Bobby's butt. We walked a couple big circles once we hit the open field to let the group get well out of sight. At this point Wym's rider declared he needed to be in front at all times. Okay, whatever.
The only problem was that Wym didn't actually want to lead, he just wanted to be going fast. So he'd be cantering towards a jump, chicken out, and slow way down to a trot or walk. Bobby was not okay with this. Bobby didn't have a problem with Wym being out front so long as Wym wasn't going slow.
|so much open land down here|
I managed to make do for awhile, occasionally just giving up on letting Wym "lead" and jumping without him. I'm not sure why his rider thought he had to be out front. He wasn't being bad or flailing around. He just wanted to go.
We had one moment where Wym slammed on the brakes to a halt because there was a barrel holding a gate open. I stopped Bobby, but Wym wouldn't go forward by himself so I took the lead and cantered towards the big coop jump. Bobby was sick of the stop and go nonsense by this point and snatched the bit to steeplechase the coop. He left out a stride until the last second where he was like, "Oh, shit. Bad idea" and put a leg down which was an even worse idea as Fungus Leg got smashed on the top of the jump and we nearly landed on our faces. He had a Come to Jesus about what "Whoa, mother fucker" means, and we carried on without incident from there--and without Wym leading us over any more jumps.
|photo credit: curt grant|
The jumps were legit hunt country jumps, as billed. Nothing was under Novice height, and while there wasn't a lot of them, what was there was a blast to gallop over. Bobby hasn't seen a real cross country jump in over a year, but he pulled me to every single one with ears pricked looking for the next one.
I wasn't worried about how Fungus Leg would hold up. He's grown a good amount of hair back on that leg and the skin looks great so I felt comfortable putting boots on him without worrying about rubbing him raw. Of course I hadn't anticipated him crashing into a solid jump, but he came away with nothing more than a couple of small scrapes on his knee.
|fungus leg this morning, no worse for wear|
I was worried about how his feet would feel afterwards. It was good footing--I wouldn't have ridden him if it had been too hard--but this was definitely the first big test for what his navicular can handle backed by his fancy shoes. I packed his feet when we were done, but he didn't get any bute. I wanted a clear read on if this type of thing made him sore or not.
The verdict? He galloped around his paddock like a looney Monday, and today he felt fantastic for our ride this morning. No footiness whatsoever.
|looking much cuter in jump tack than dressage tack|
I think as long as I'm picky about footing and we stick with the wedges, we should be free to trail ride to our heart's content this summer.