Friday, July 15, 2016

getting lost @ fair hill in the name of charity

Fun times were had by all last weekend when our barn amassed a small team to go on a paper chase at Fair Hill!

This was actually the second paper chase we had been to in recent memory - there was one other at Tranquility last month that just barn mate (and lesson program director) R and I went to, as everyone else was either busy or scared off by the threat of rain. 

That ride was super fun tho, as it was basically an excuse for us to gallop and introduce R's baby ottb to her first taste of xc practice in a low-pressure setting. No ribbons tho bc we were MUCH TOO FAST. lol

This time around we had a larger group (obvi totally matchy matchy down to the bonnets) of a good mix of seasoned horses, green horses, and a little in between. You all have seen that welsh pony Krimpet on the far left before (and will see more of her yet, muahaha). Obvi Isabel was cheesin in her new bridle. The American Show Horse bay paint Little Foot in the center accompanied us on a paper chase last year at Tranquility, and has tried his hand at some LD rides in the past.

R and Birdie had their second paper chase outing - but now with a few starter events under their belts. And the group was rounded out by Brita on Oakie (bc Wick has a running history two years in a row of damaging himself jusssssst enough to get left behind). Oakie is an older former hunter eq horse who, despite his experience, is still learning the finer points of changeable terrain and stream crossings. 

And actually, unlike last month when folks chickened out bc of forecast rain - this time we were surprised but in a good way by the drizzle. Bc otherwise it was gonna be HOT and MUGGY. Yeesh.

Fair Hill is so pretty tho - we were super eager to get out and about on the trails. Well. All of us except for Oakie. He was a tad sluggish. At least to start haha, he caught up soon enough.

It was kinda a bizarrely organized event tho - I'm not even totally sure how we found about about it. There were no ride times and it was all very informal. Entry fees benefited a charity supporting children in Africa - but I am honestly not exactly sure which one. 

And we found out somewhat late in the game that there weren't any jumps (optional or otherwise) on the trail. Which was kinda a bummer for most involved, tho I honestly didn't particularly care one way or another.

It mostly started off with paved or gravel roads, or wide mowed lanes through fields, or narrow unmowed flattened tracks through fields haha.

There were all kinds of neat sights to see tho - like a covered bridge!!

All horses handled this very bravely - tho Isabel got a toooouch unnerved at the echoing reverberations of horses coming through behind her. 

It was still pretty cool tho. Actually there were a lot of neat bridges and such for the horses to cross on this ride - most of which didn't end up getting photographed.

This picture above is a pretty good example of a wide field with no actual mowed path. And also the picture I took right before the wheels fell off the bus.

See - any time our group sees a wide open space like this, our natural inclination is to gallop. Obviously. And we did so - going hell for leather as fast as we could - right up till that break in the tree line visible on the horizon. 

At which point.... we had somehow missed a turn somewhere. Ooops. Too busy galloping to pay attention to directions!

Thus commenced a slightly prolonged tour of a different trail. Well. It was a different trail once. Then it became the same trail. Over and over again. I swear we turned a different direction each time we came to the same crossing... but still ended up back on this perpetual loop lol. Fair Hill has 5,000 acres and we managed to get stuck on one damn trail.

Tho at one point we stumbled upon this crazy horse bridge crossing over a highway. And while we were pretty sure it was going in exactly the opposite direction, we took the horses back and forth over it just bc it was there. Horses were all quite fine. 

Finally - at about our 4th pass through this endless cycle of descent into trail loop purgatory, a mountain biker with time to spare came upon us and took pity - leading us (back down the same damn way we had just come) to the proper turning point. Thank goodness!!

Finally back on course - we encountered the big stream that I had kept seeing on my gps but that we couldn't seem to find. And naturally, again it became schooling / play time for the ponies.

Plus, ya know, they were all pretty hot anyway, what with all the galloping and endless circling lol.

And we got to go back through the covered bridge again!

It was good experience for the horses tho - both Oakie and Birdie had demonstrated some issues with water. Fairly dramatically. Oakie, being a seasoned and trained horse, got a stern talking to. Birdie, being somewhat green and young, threw off some more dynamic fireworks (like jumping the whole damn crossing a couple times) but then seemed to figure out that water wasn't actually so bad (see her nosing around in the earlier pics?)

Isabel, ever the quintessential trail pro, hadn't batted an eye at a single thing on the ride. OH. EXCEPT. Except this little narrow passage to get into the stream. Poor princes - she must still have nightmares from her obese days or something, bc she was not at ALL confident that she could squeeze through here.

It was actually kinda adorable. I just waited her out, let her process and understand and touch everything with her nose. Then she finally hesitantly stepped through with the front end, and jump-wiggled through with her hind (after literally every other horse had walked through completely normally). Lol. Oh Isabel. I guess she just had to have her one weird thing!

After that, tho, we were definitely in the home stretch. Back on familiar ground with the horses all striding out happily towards the direction of the trailers. 

Which, coincidentally, was also when the ride organizer called us slightly worried to figure out where we were. As we should most definitely have been back by now.... Oops!

I felt kinda bad bc we were her last riders out there and she was kinda waiting on us... but whatever. We weren't that late (finished around 12:30 - just over 2 hours) and all's well that ends well, right?

We were obviously very happy to see the trailers tho. And for the record - the trailers were at the Appleton Rd entrance to Fair Hill. The blue dot was us playing in the water on the way back. And the red star was that horse bridge over the highway. Safe to say we were a litttttle off course lol.

It was good times tho. Mare was definitely tired, but seemed to enjoy the excursion and group fun and galloping and trail riding and all. Oh. And one other bonus of getting lost? We actually ended up coming across some logs to jump after all. Doesn't quiiiiiiite beat getting a ribbon (we were alas much too slow for that) but maybe kinda makes up for it :)

35 comments:

  1. Sounds like a really fun day despite the lack of jumps and getting lost.

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    1. well, getting lost led to jumps magically appearing haha, when we had expected none. trade offs, ya know!

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  2. That covered bridge is so neat!! Glad you all had a good time.

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    1. it was very neat! so pretty too!

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  3. Sorry about the getting lost, but looks like you had a good outing anyway! It's been so hot here that I'm riding late in the evening (7 pm) to try to beat the heat. Only partially successful. *sigh*

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    1. yea it's been pretty gruesome here too. lucky me not working towards any goals, i just skip it altogether lol

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  4. OMG that sounds so fun. WHY DON'T I LIVE CLOSER TO YOU!!!!!! Then I could partake in the fun things too!

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    1. cooooooome cloooooooser!!!!! lol :D

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  5. So much fun!! The getting lost is definitely made more worth it by finding surprise jumps!

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    1. lol right? tho i kinda wish that next time we get lost, at least maybe we can cover some new ground instead of retracing our steps a bajillion times despite every effort not to? lol

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  6. dude it sounds more fun getting lost. what a good experience for all the ponies!!

    one day trailer AND THEN IM COMING TOO.

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  7. haha sounds like you guys have quite the eventful day :) I wish I could have come!!

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  8. I like how you turned it into your own play day!

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    1. i mean, that's pretty much the entire point of paper chases, right? ;P

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  9. You definitely make stuff like this sound super fun, hopefully one day I can do something like it too

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    1. you definitely should!! it's such a fun little excuse to get out of the ring! tho i will admit it's more fun when you don't get lost lol

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  10. I LOVE riding at Fair Hill. It's funny because I know exactly where every one of these photos was taken. Sort of surreal for me! I love that covered bridge :) The Appleton Rd. entrance is where we put ride camp for the endurance ride every year :)

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    1. that doesn't surprise me in the slightest - we were actually talking a lot about foxcatcher etc while out there - what a perfect venue for an endurance ride! we got hung up on the orange trail (right around where it meets up with some of the nature conservation trails that are closed to horses) and circled around and around for a while before finally figuring out the correct turn to yet another wooden bridge in the woods. we should have had you with us to navigate!

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    2. ^ What Dom said, yes! I recognized so many of these sights from Foxcatcher! :D

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  11. I feel like there's some secret club that hides these things, I'm always looking for them but I never hear about them until afterward. I was totally laughing at you getting stuck on the same loop. It is kind of hilarious!
    Overall, sounds really fun!!

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    1. ooooh trust me - you would have been laughing even harder had you been with us. wanna know how we could recognize the loop? so R on her green bean Birdie somewhat hilariously got run into a few tree branches (only hilarious bc she didn't actually get hurt...badly) - one of which nearly took out her eyeball. and it was that one apparently deadly tree branch that we kept coming across again and again, thus identifying our loop lol.

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  12. I know where so many of those pictures are! Looks like a really fun day. Batty likes the covered bridge (he didn't the first time, but now he does), but some of those other bridges... especially anything over traffic, OMG EVIL according to Batty. We really need to get out more and get over our bridge issues. Going with other horses will probably help. Anyway, looks like a lot of fun.

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    1. i was honestly surprised by how not bothered all the horses were by that bridge over the highway - i would have thought it was the spookiest thing we pointed them at! herd mentality definitely helped us tho!

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  13. When I lived in PA, I used to love galloping through covered bridges. The echoing hoofbeats would sound like thunder and make you feel like you were in an epic western gallop scene or something equally fantastic.

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    1. haha yea it actually didn't sound at all the way i expected - esp with a longer line of horses behind us. definitely cool tho!

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  14. That facility looks amazing. So cool to have it close enough to play at.

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    1. it's definitely fun! i was sad that there weren't any jumps on the course tho, considering they have such a fantastic xc course! but i guess it makes sense since they're pretty picky about open schooling days, which themselves tend to be expensive and overrun with riders....

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  15. Sounds like such a great time. I wish I had a horse that was ok with group events. Alas, V is much too short and spends the entire time prancing/trotting/chasing in an effort not to get let behind. Doesn't matter if it's her "herd" or any other horse.

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  16. That looks like a lot of fun. Someday...l

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  17. I probably would've panicked being lost on 5,000 acres of land, lol. Glad you guys made it back in one piece!

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  18. I once got this lost at an orienteering event at a 7th grade camp. We eventually got picked up by the support van, which found us eating vegemite straight out of the jar.

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  19. Getting lost on trails is no fun! There is one park that I go to riding a couple times a year and every single time I end up getting lost. Even if I start out on trails that I have done before and feel like I know pretty well.

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