Wednesday, September 9, 2015

paper chase @ tranquility

We went to our first ever paper chase this weekend! What a fun event - definitely a great way to get out there and enjoy time with the horses in the most low key competitive setting ever. Really it was just a glorified trail ride.

I expected to treat the event more or less like conditioning for Ms Isabel. She was happy to acquiesce to that idea too.
B and I had been looking forward to the ride for a while, tho unfortunately at the last minute Wick lost a shoe. Definitely a disappointment, but fortunately the lesson program let us take the seasoned veteran Caballo instead. Even just coming off the trailer he looked so happy and relaxed - definitely good to get him out of the arena and away from lesson kiddos for a day!
Isabel was obviously her usual professional self at the trailer - doing what she does best and stuffing that pretty little face of hers. We've been to Tranquility so many times by now she must feel right at home there. We even parked in the same spot as for the MCTA Starter Trials earlier this summer - the perfect spot between two trees so that nobody else could get too close to us and we had lots of shade. Perfect. 
B and I ended up getting there a little early since we weren't sure how Caballo would feel about trailer loading. Turns out he was perfect and went straight in (tho the step down coming off the trailer caught him by surprise both times - sorry buddy!). So we could hang out and chill for a little while waiting for our other teammates to arrive. 
Joining us on the ride would be our barn manager (whose horses live at home with her, so she was coming from there instead of from our barn) and her uber-experienced trail horse, and the young rider from OF who served as my super groom at Jenny Camp a couple months ago. She brought along her bomb proof been there done that pony Magic rather than her new hot-n-flighty OTTB mare. So all in all, a seasoned group of horses. 
I was pretty pleased too with how Isabel has figured out the pre-ride trailer routine. She's become quite consistently good with tanking up on water before we go anywhere. Plus she always eats. This would probably be the longest ride I'd ever taken her on (the prize list said it would be 6-8 miles) so I wanted to make sure she was in good shape on the way out. 
The organizers said it should be around 7-7.5 miles, with time built in for us to play around on the cross country jumps (we went through a couple familiar fields, and spent some time in that little clearing in the woods filled with logs). But we got started down a narrow and hilly trail to warm up, and got in some w-t-c before hitting a nice tiny log to tune the horses into jumping. 
Then we came out into the open xc fields where everyone hopped a couple fences. I honestly intended to keep Isabel's jump load pretty light - so I just did a single coop in the first field, and in the next, a quick circuit of the red barn to the mini trakehner to the pheasant feeder that we've done a zillion times while schooling
It was fun watching some of the other riders jump around a bit more tho. All the horses were SUPER game! Tho Caballo was maybe taken a little bit by surprise by the unexpected xc component. We switched to a different field, then into the little wooded clearing, and then into one last xc field (where I jumped the red segment of this train), and then back into the woods.
Most of the wooded sections were nice single track trails, tho we did end up on this random road for a little while. 
Perfect for taking lots of pictures!
And selfies, obviously.
There were a couple of water crossings but none of the horses drank anything. At least it wasn't too hot out yet, especially in the woods. 
We still stood around in the water for a while tho. 
I really can't stress enough how well behaved the horses were. They all got along super well with each other, even the little snarky pony mare haha.
The trail was also super well marked - never even any moments of scratching our heads trying to figure out where to go. Markers were distributed along the trail mostly pretty evenly, but every turn and twist was demarcated by TONS of streamers. Really couldn't miss it! 
The trail also had LOTS of opportunities for trotting and cantering. Sure, some of it was rocky or steep or deep with mud, but mostly we could choose our gaits based on how we felt or how the horses felt. 
There were especially lots of trails along pasture lines - perfect for the occasional canter!
Plus all kinds of other neat trail elements like wooden bridges and steep hills (both up and down) to test how handy our horses are.
Isabel was especially pleased with all the lush greenery. She was on a loose rein pretty much the entire time (regardless of speed) and had the freedom to snarf up anything in her path (which she did happily, even at the trot lol). 
We also went through a lot of corn fields - both around the edges and through the middle. This corn must have been for feed bc it was looking a bit old, and was sooooooo tall!
All of the horses were snacking on it too - up to and including chomping actual cobs off the plants lol.
The edges of the cornfield were super ripe for going faster too - nice and flat and wide. We went the fastest here - up to 17mph according to my gps. We were all just cantering along, with Isabel in the front, and I could see that Caballo was pretty close behind so I figured, what the hell - let's open them up and really let them GO. 
It was super fun - feeling Isabel open up into that next gear and fly across the ground in an effortless four beats. Soooooo much fun! We really don't have space at home to actually gallop for any extended period of time so this was such a treat!
Everyone was BEAMING after the gallop - with the barn manager saying how nobody ever wants to go that fast with her, and the young rider saying it was maybe the fastest she's ever gone (and on her little pony, to boot!). Plus all the horses settled back down to an easy sedate walk with no issues too. Yay for broke well-behaved ponies!
We ended up cantering most of the end of the ride too. My gps said we went about 8 miles (the extra distance was probably from jumping around for a while) and we did it in 2 hours on the dot, leaving us in 3rd place with an optimum time of 1:56. Not too shabby!! 

So yea, definitely an awesome outing. I would DEFINITELY do another ride like this again and loved the team aspect of it. If anyone local is considering riding at a paper chase at Tranquility, definitely do it! 


28 comments:

  1. I may have missed it previously, but what is a paper chase? Is it another name for a hunter pace? Regardless, I love the whole concept of these team ride type things - SO FUN. Relaxed but competitive, and with good camaraderie! (And that first pic of Iz is so lovely btw)

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    1. yea it's pretty much a hunter pace, as far as i know. there might be slight differences between them, but for all intents and purposes it's essentially the same idea. and yes - fun and relaxed but still with a purpose. gotta love it!

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  2. That looks awesome! What a beautiful area. I'm going to have to check that out!
    Isabel is quite talented to grab forage at a trot. That's a horse dedicated to snacking!

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    1. it's suuuuuper nice up here - definitely lmk if you're ever up this way! and yea arabians are known for their loyalty, tho i think isabel takes it a little too far in the direction of foooood haha

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  3. This sounds SO FUN!!! And what a perfect group of horses and riders to go with! Wheee!

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    1. oh man, so fun!! you'll have to come down here (or i'll have to come up) so we can do a similar ride!!

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    2. YES!!! There should be more stuff coming up as we get into fall.

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    3. yes!!! let's go fox hunting or something!!!

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  4. Nothing better than good weather, good ponies, and good friends :) My first long trail ride was a hunter pace and that was what inspired me to get into endurance since 6-8 miles wasn't enough for me!

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    1. haha really?? i kinda felt like it was jussssssst right, and was quite ready to hop off upon completion lol. but i can see how it might be addictive too

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  5. Looks like a lot of fun! Caballo is super handsome!

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    1. he is SUCH a sweet horse. he has a somewhat nervous disposition, so i wasn't sure how he would do - but getting him out of the arena and into the woods with a kind (and competent) adult rider vs. all the little children really seemed to brighten him up

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  6. That looks and sounds so fun. What a great day. I wonder if there's anything like that around me. I love the idea of a no pressure fun team event.

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    1. you should totally try to find something similar! i dont' think it's an uncommon event, and is pretty similar to a hunter pace

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  7. That looks like a SUPER fun time!! It makes me anxious for the hunter pace out here!!

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    1. oooh yes you guys are gonna have so much fun too!!!!

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  8. What a great way to spend the day. Sounds amazing!

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    1. it really was. i'd never done something like it before, but it was really a very pleasant outing

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  9. Perfect outing. Very jealous. Also, Caballo is very cute!

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    1. he's stinkin adorable - we missed Wick but Caballo was definitely a nice substitution

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  10. Wonderful weather for such a nice outing!

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    1. it worked out really well - we were finished right around 12 when it started really heating up

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  11. Stunning photos of the scenery. I am so jealous :)

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    1. haha thanks! i wish they weren't so blurry but i do what i can with an iphone

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  12. Someday I'm going to do this!

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    1. you totally should - it was a really nice event!

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