Monday, October 8, 2018

Elkridge Harford Hunter Trials!

Happy Monday, everyone (and Happy Thanksgiving to the Canadian readers)!! We had a busy weekend over here in Charlieland, complete with FINALLY checking off an item that's been sitting on my bucket list since Nov 2014.

riding in pairs and teams is ridiculously fun guys omg
If you remember, way back when Isabel and I were first getting started as eventers, we hit up a local hunter trials at Tranquility to get a little more mileage over natural obstacles. It was a great time, but what really struck me was watching the pairs and teams classes - they looked like the absolute most fun omg. And ever since then I've been itching to get back to a similar style event.

looking like a field hunter, no? haha close enough, at least ;)
It only took four years lol, but FINALLY I got to go to another hunter trials! This time hosted by the Elkridge Harford Hunt Pony Club at a venue about 20min away from Charlie's barn. A couple other barn mates were also going - including some kiddos who are members of this pony club, and another friend who has done basically all the things with her superstar mare Cosmic.

charlie's got his priorities in order haha. also, do you recognize Noelle??
So we got to get all dressed up like fox hunters: conservative tack, fitted white saddle pads, conservative jackets, tan breeches, stock ties, the whole nine yards lol. My outfit wasn't exactly perfectly in style, with brown boots, hackamore, and skull cap (with helmet cam, natch) - but I wasn't the only one with each of those things haha.

atmosphere was really fun too
And honestly my plan for the day was just to straight up have fun. I only expected to do the course one or two times - really I just desperately wanted to do the pairs / teams rides haha.

first jump was immediately after a steep stream crossing
To add to the casual nature of the outing, we didn't even walk our courses in advance. Katie's been to the venue many times before, so just looking at a printed map was sufficient for her to know where we were supposed to go. And considering her mare prefers to lead and Charlie is always happy to follow, I honestly didn't worry about needing to know what lay ahead of us.

possibly my favorite jump on course bc of the major drop on landing haha
The way the course works is that there are low and high options for every fence, and you can jump whatever looks good to you. Technically riders are judged on style and form (the "hunters" part of this, vs eventing where all that matters is that you make it through the flags) and you get more points for high options. Realistically tho, the "judges" were mostly pony club parents so idk how serious it really was.

wheeee air time!!!
For pairs and teams, you are expected to stick together through the course. So if one rider has trouble somewhere, the rest are supposed to wait. Of particular note: the final fence must be jumped abreast.

rail road ties! Charlie loved following Cos around haha
Katie and I warmed up briefly in the outdoor polo ring (yea did I mention this venue is awesome?!) and right off the bat I let Charlie attach himself to Cos, which obvi he was happy to do. No pressure, no serious flat work. Just trotted and cantered around, and caught each of the jumps (cross, vertical, oxer) in a relaxed manner. Then it was time to head to the starting line!

red barns!
The course starts off by immediately crossing a small creek and then, bam, a set of jumps immediately on the other side. Definitely sets the tone for the horses haha!

lots o coops
Then it was off across the country side, with lots of up hill galloping over all manner of natural style obstacles. Mostly coops, lots of logs. A couple box and barn jumps, and rail road ties etc etc. 

these a-frame logs were pretty cool too
Nothing was particularly challenging or large, and while there was lots of terrain it was all extremely inviting to the horses.

small coop. fun fact - we almost died over this one!
Especially doing the pairs class, Charlie felt perfectly happy to keep chugging right on along no matter what cropped up in his path haha.

MOAR COOPS
I was particularly pleased that even tho he was clearly following Cos, he was still looking at the jumps themselves too, and locking on and finding his stride. Perfect!

#feelings about going slow thru the stream crossings
Then after a brief jaunt through the woods, and another creek crossing, we emerged back into the main field where the trailers were parked to jump a couple more fences and finish abreast over the hay bales.

and another coop guys omg
All told, the course was a little shorter than maybe a standard BN course. After completing the pairs class, we reconvened with the other barn mates and picked up a third to get right back out there for another go with the teams class.

finishing abreast over the final line of hay bales
The second round was even more fun than the first - Charlie was totally in the zone and seemed to really love the whole idea of jumping with friends haha.

horses happy about the running and jomping haha
Tho after we finished that round, I was satisfied to be done for the day. Charlie's winter coat is really fuzzing out, but it was in the high 80s and super muggy out. Poor guy was covered in thick white lather!

charlie and cos were basically obsessed with each other too
Plus, from a schooling perspective I didn't necessarily see any real value in jumping everything again in a solo round. There wasn't necessarily anything I felt like needed work or would be reasonably improved from another shot.

he got to watch a lot of little ponies go too <3
The jumps were nbd for Charlie - nothing merited a look from him, nothing made him pause. The terrain and conditions were also fine with him - the streams didn't slow him down and neither did the mud. Tho obvi haha the studs helped...

quietly observing, as only a charlie can do
So after we finished the second course I opted to pull all his tack, scrub off all the foam and crusting sweat, and plug the pony full of carrots haha. And fortunately he was also very good about tanking up on  some water too, phew!

aww sweet tired pony <3
We stuck around for the rest of the day tho, since Katie wanted to do another solo round, plus the other barn mates were doing the fun hack classes and whatnot.

helmet cam from the team ride!

The event was really cool too for all levels - they also had an indoor arena course with smaller jumps, and a set of communicating outdoor grass rings that had full derby courses at small heights. The hack classes were held in that outdoor ring, as were some of the games classes. It was all super centrally located too, so it was easy to watch everyone go.

aw he's the most handsome tho
Definitely a fun style of event for riders of any discipline - from hunters to eventers. And definitely DEFINITELY just another reason why I'm DYING to take this horse fox hunting haha.

look we actually got a ribbon too!!! and it has a FOX on it!
So. Another item crossed off the bucket list! Hopefully not for the last time either lol, and ideally it won't be another 4 years before we get to do this again!!

40 comments:

  1. that looks like a fun venue. Too bad it was humid it looks cool in the photos. :) We used to have pair stuff when I was growing up and we loved that shit. The venue wasnt as cool as this one but same idea. :)

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    1. omgosh the pairs stuff was so so so so so fun, i kinda wish we could ride like this all the time haha!

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  2. omg how do you find these?? ive always wanted to do one!!

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    1. gosh i don't even really know - this one was by word of mouth through my barn mates, but this particular hunt club hosts a ton of events throughout the year and is probably worth following on facebook. there are more coming up this season tho it's not clear if my schedule will align with any of them. maybe one in late november? i'll let you know for sure tho in case Spicy wants to come play ;)

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  3. Yes, yes, you absolutely need to go foxhunting. It's even MOAR FUN than eventing!

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    1. omgosh i want to go soooooooo badly haha, we had all these grand plans last fall but then charlie needed surgery. hopefully this year will be better!

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  4. That looks like so much fun! Glad you had a blast!

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  5. So fun!!! Growing up the local hunt did these classes too and I loved the pairs and team classes. I have an old picture of my friend and I jumping over the last jump together and it’s definitely one of my favorite memories :)

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    1. oh man, i definitely believe that!! sometimes these fun group rides can be the most special!! it was cool to feel how much charlie liked moving with the group too!

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  6. Wow...that looks like a blast!! The footing looks sloppy still up there. Has it dried out at all?

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    1. the footing was actually mostly pretty ok except in certain spots - like near the stream crossings and other high traffic areas. fortunately it has dried out a little bit, but of course there's still always more rain to come!

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    1. omgosh it was literally ALL the fun!

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  8. So fun! I will say that foxhunting my mare Dreamy made her sooooo much braver and forward on XC courses at events. Once you gallop over huge 3'6" coops in the midst of a herd of galloping horses, she was like yeah BN XC is nbd. I am sure you would both love it!!

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    1. oh man, i believe it! one of my biggest regrets with isabel honestly is that i never found a chance to get her out hunting, bc i just know she would have adored it too! hopefully tho this will be the year!!

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  9. Every time I feel like you do something fun, you and and do something even MORE fun!!! Oh my gosh I would LOVE to do something like this with Rio- XC without the technical aspect! Unfortunately, this is just not a thing in Texas. Sounds like an AMAZING experience for you and Charlie though!! Way to go!!

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    1. it was legitimately so fun - zero pressure, zero technicality. all very natural and very inviting. tho yea i definitely think we're lucky in maryland that stuff like this is basically pretty common - the fox hunting culture is especially strong through this region and this type of event goes hand in hand i guess

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  10. Love the professional photo of you and charlie! <3<3 and yay for bucket list items :D

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    1. thanks i was so happy that she got a couple shots of us!! obvi the easiest spot for pictures was by the kiddy ring bc omg there were so many cute ponies, but she got to see us as we came through the very end of our course. and naturally i can't resist buying at least one photo haha

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  11. I've never heard of these before and they sound like so much fun!!

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    1. omgosh they are the most fun! i'd never heard of them before either until i just sorta randomly showed up at one back in 2014. ever since i've been dying to go back, but there's always been something stopping us - like maybe a more formal event, or an injury, or not having anybody to go with.... but finally we made it!

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  12. I love the idea of a hunter pace and then always chicken out about the riding in pairs/teams part! I'm like "omg so much could go wrong" but.... it still does seem awesome.

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    1. lol yea i mean, that's totally fair - there were plenty of horses who were kinda losing their shit out there haha! i think the key is starting small if you think your horse would maybe melt down a little bit. like charlie has been trail riding with 1 or more horses for a couple years now, including the occasional sprint up a hill or across a field in company. then we've gone on some longer hunter paces that have included plenty of cantering through open spaces in a group, and even some jumping abreast in our last hunter pace in early september. so he's had plenty of practice in lower key settings leading up to what basically amounted to running a shorter xc course in pairs/teams. it worked out too!

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  13. That sounds like such a fun day out! You guys really seem to get so many cool opportunities for fun stuff.

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    1. we are so freakin lucky in our area to have no shortage of fun, local and inexpensive stuff to do with the ponies! definitely makes it easy to take advantage!

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  14. How cool! I've done hunter paces before, but that looks even better with all of the different jump options.

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    1. yea it was definitely very similar to a hunter pace - just a much shorter course (about 5min in all) so it was easy to do a couple rounds

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  15. Looks fun!!! (well, looking at the pics, it looks like you had fun, I'm here thinking omg they are going fast in a big field with big jumps omgomg). hahaha. Thanks for the shoutout to Cdn thanksgiving! I was blissfully stuffing myself with turkey all weekend! :-)

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    1. oh man, thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays regardless of country haha! and yea it was a ton of fun. and the whole "going fats in a big field with jumps" thing just gets more and more fun the more used to it you get ;)

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  16. OMG this is SO much fun! You do ALL the fun things! I did a lot of hunter pacing as a kid, and LOVED it. This reminds me of that, and I think it's essentially the same, but our hunter paces were an hour or so long... So fun, and so great that Charlie is so cool with it!

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    1. so fun omg!! and yea this is very similar in idea to a hunter pace, except it's a shorter course (about your standard BN course length, i think) expected to run at speed for the full length, tho it's not timed. and while we just did the team and pairs classes, there are also individual classes like adult hunter, green hunter, novice hunter, and open hunter, and the classes are judged on style and form rather than "but did you die?" lol.... so fun tho, and yea charlie ate it up like candy!

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  17. Looks like fun! I don't think there's anything quite like that around here :(

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    1. it's definitely an event that seems to be hosted mostly by hunt clubs - so maybe if there are any hunts local to you, there might be something sorta similar?

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  18. Sounds like it was worth the wait! Looks like a total blast.

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    1. omg definitely worth the wait!!! :D

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  19. Wow. That looks like a lot of fun. I want to do one of those.

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    1. so so so fun - i'm sure they've got at least something sorta similar up in your new area too!!! time to check out all the local hunts!!!

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