Tuesday, September 6, 2016

labor day paper chase! (with a surprise twist!)

Hope everyone (or at least the US readers) had a great three day weekend! Some folks from my barn took advantage of the holiday to head out on a much-anticipated group paper chase at Tranquility.

We had been planning this outing for... gosh, it feels like forever. And all these last minute circumstances kept cropping up, trying to thwart our efforts (not least of which included a blown transmission on one of the trucks meant to pull trailers....).

matchy matchy  much?
BUT. We were so determined. THIS WOULD BE FUN, DAMMIT. OR ELSE. Hahah. But. Like, seriously tho.

Especially bc all but one of the riders were in on a little secret: that one rider out of the know is getting married later this year, so we decided to go all in on a surprise bridal theme. Complete with hand-painted t-shirts and some special garb for the bride-to-be and her horse.

omg so many sparkles tho. and yea, DIY bonnet tutorial will be forthcoming shortly!
We all had matching black bonnets, except for the bride who got to wear white. This isn't just any bonnet tho. I mean, sure it began life as a standard off-the-rack frilly monstrosity. But with some added bling and a couple stitches here and there, it's transformed into something very special. DIY post to come.

team effort!
And like any good surprise, it couldn't be complete without ridiculous nervous efforts to distract the surprisee so that we could all change shirts (she thought we'd all be wearing white or some boring shit like that haha) and get her mare Birdie dressed.

regal Birdie!
So birdie got her white bonnet and a white specially embroidered saddle pad. Plus everyone got pink electrical tape on their boots, tho we all put on black boots and Birdie got white. Oh. And obviously Birdie got to wear a veil too. Obvi.

omg mare tho, can you at least try to suck it in?
Even poor Isabel got pulled out of her pasture puff lifestyle for the ride. And I promise you - while she didn't exactly get dragged out kicking and screaming, there was a definite sense about her of, "Um, excuse me but didn't you hear I'm retired now? Sheesh, wtf is all this noise?!?" lol. Sorry princess, but duty calls!

thoroughly surprised
It all paid off tho - our friend R was beyond surprised. Everything went off without a hitch!

#matchingveils
Then obvi there wasn't much left to do but for everyone to finish tacking their own horses, mount up and head out!

assembling the team
And I gotta say - I've been on a couple paper chases now and there really is something to be said for a larger group. This was by far the largest, with our outing at Fair Hill not very far behind.

that willow at Tranquility is always so photogenic
Of course it's all a bit dependent on the horses in the group (the golden rule is generally ride to the level of the greenest group members, right?) - but luckily everyone in our group was more than equal to whatever fun stuff might present itself on this ride.

heading out!
So there was obviously MUCH galloping. And lots of leaping across small streams. Plus just about every member of the group jumped around at least a little bit as we made our way through the cross country fields on the premises. In fact I suspect that Isabel and I were the only ones who didn't jump anything.

#veilgivesyouwings
Isabel was good tho. Not really great - she started the ride shying sideways at some teeny tiny jumps that we totally dominated at one of our earliest visits to Tranquility a couple years ago (remember the windy fall hunter trials?) and spent a good deal of time bucking through some of the first few canters and gallops (methinks she's too fat for her saddles now, womp womp).

lots of narrow wooded sections as well as big wide open fields
But whatever. She's Isabel, she's never going to not be fun and reliable out on a trail ride (even if she was kinda a bitch haha).

boots and electrical tape still intact after the ride! sadly, down one shoe tho. oops!
We finished the ride with one last big wild fast-as-you-can-possibly-go gallop that was just.... how to explain? SO FUN OMG. I just live for that feeling of the horse digging in and finding another gear and just flying across the ground!

isabel and birdie are NOT friends in the pasture. but are apparently inseparable off property. they kept screaming at each other across the trailers until we finally acquiesced and tied them together. 
So it was just so fun. What a great way to spend the day with friends! Plus there was cake and bubbles and sandwich fixings back at the trailers for us to chow down on and enjoy post-ride :)

how cute, right?
And as an added bonus - turns out we hit the optimum time exactly, so we won! Which can also probably be attributed to the bride, who dropped her phone earlier on in the ride and apologized for the delay it caused as someone hopped off and retrieved it. Tho she noted "If we win or are only within a couple minutes from the time, you'll thank me for this!"  Haha, yup!

So it was a good ride. I think my favorite thing about paper chases or hunter paces or whatever is that group or team element. Getting excited about matching outfits and horse gear etc actually seems like half the fun, and then there are always so many great pictures. It gets all the advantage of some big event - but none of the pressure. Just the fun stuff :)

Do you like big group outings? Formal or informal?

54 comments:

  1. What a fun surprise. I like group outings but only with the right people.

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    1. Makes sense. I find that if there are enough ppl it almost doesn't matter

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  2. I don't actually know what a paper chase is but it sounds like heaps of fun and I want to do one!
    I like big outings on the right horse ;)

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    1. A paper chase is sorta like a hunter pace - and around here at least they are more or less glorified trail rides. The organizer lays out paths and riders choose to enter division based on speeds (like wt vs wtc) and whether and how much they want to jump. Each division has an optimum time associated but teams won't know until the end of the event how they compared. It's really just a lot of fun!

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  3. Almost bridled! Hahaha
    What good friends you guys are!

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    1. Lol we had a lot of fun planning the surprise :)

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  4. That's pretty freaking cute. I wish we had paper chases and stuff like that around here!

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    1. Well if you ever make it back to Maryland we are pretty rife with all sorts of fun ride types!!

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  5. That looks so awesome! And both veils are amazing!

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    1. Ha I can hardly believe I even got them made, considering how crappy i felt after getting home lol. Totally worth it tho!!!

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  6. wow AND you won??/ AND there was cake??? i want to ride with your crew, you guys sound awesome.

    isabelle legit has a beer gut.

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    1. Ha we are a fun group - get yo'self a trailer and you can join whenever!!!

      Oh and Isabel would like to point out that it's a *champagne* gut, thankyouverymuch lol. Princess is too refined for beer!!! ;)

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  7. Oh my gosh SO FUN!!! You guys look ADORABLE and what a wonderful surprise for your friend! :D What a blast!

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    1. definitely a blast - we went a little overboard but it was so worth it lol

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  8. Aww you guys are so much fun! That team outfit and surprise for the bride is awesome!

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    1. ha thanks! it honestly turned out better than i expected, surprises always seem so hard to pull off!

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  9. What a great surprise for the bride-to-be. Oh how I wish there were events like that in my area. It sounds like you live in a rider's paradise!

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    1. we're super lucky to have so many options around us. tho actually it really is this one farm that hosts SO MANY THINGS haha - they're great!

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  10. What an amazing surprise for that bride, so cute! Paper chases sound awesome, I wish we had them around here!

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    1. i'm kinda surprised they're not all that common - tho perhaps most other areas refer to them as 'hunter paces.' it's basically the same idea anyway

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  11. I don't understand what a paper chase is? Like a hunter pace?

    I do love the additions you made to the bride's horse and the cake - very cute!
    Also nice to see Ms. Thang again, even if she was being a cow.

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    1. yup just like a hunter pace.

      and one of our teammates is something of a hobby artist and did all the designs on that cake - isn't it perfect?

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  12. This is the kind of bridal stuff I could get excited about! I'm glad you guys had a fun day.

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    1. ha right? somehow by making it horsey, it suddenly becomes much more palatable lol

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  13. What a wonderful surprise! All the matching just soothes my soul. Congrats on the win too. It is not easy to hit the optimum time on those rides.

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    1. i was honestly shocked that we won. our team came in 3rd at the same event last year, but there were tons and tons of ties for 2nd and 3rd place so really basically everyone ribboned. then our first paper chase this spring was just the bride and me, and we basically galloped the WHOLE THING, and were therefore obvi much too fast to win anything haha. then at fair hill earlier this summer we got 18 kinds of lost and ended up wayyyy over time, but still pulled a 6th place (idk how). so winning this time didn't really seem realistic - and yet we did it! so exciting!!

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  14. OH. My. Goodness. I love this. I love all of this. So clever. So cute. so FUN.

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    1. if only you could come up more often - this ride would have been right up your alley!!! and probably you would have had WAY more horse left than any of the rest of us lol (poor isabel was quite done by the end haha)

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  15. What a brilliant surprise! I am so glad it went so well and it sure sounds like you all had a great time ๐Ÿ˜ˆ๐Ÿ˜‡

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  16. What a lovely and thoughtful gesture by the group! It's so nice you can ride with that many people who are game for fun matchy-match outings too :)

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    1. ha omg we go a little crazy on the matchy matchy thing lol. like, to the point where for our last outing we had planned to use blue whale patterned tape on our boots to match the bonnet Olivia made me. alas we ran out of time... but the intent to go full out crazy had totally been there!

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  17. So cute! You guys are the best barn friends--how could you not be when there's cake involved?!

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    1. cake frosting is the cement that holds all adult friendships together, obviously :D

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  18. Um.. Whats a paper chase? I used to hunter pace, and it seems similar? Also, that was the cutest surprise. So much fun!!

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    1. yep it's basically the same idea in practice :)

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  19. Hahaha that sounds amazing. Love the cake!

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  20. Winning AND cake? Sounds like a great time for all except poor Izzy. Ha! I love hunter paces, they are the absolute best, I suspect a paper chase would be fun too.

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    1. Definitely a great time and I think Isabel enjoyed herself too after all. And yes a paper chase is basically just like a hunter pace.

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  21. This sounds like a fantastic way to celebrate getting married with barn girls! I'm so jealous that we don't have these sorts of things around here. It's definitely time to move back toward the East Coast! Also, I basically know what a hunter pace is, but I'm not super familiar with Paper Chases. Is there actually a difference?

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    1. I think there's technically a difference, at least originally. But in practice and in my experience there doesn't seem to be any real distinction between a paper chase or hunter pace.

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  22. What a cool surprise for your friend! Wish my friends did something like that for me before my big day! :)

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  23. As someone how never gets to go on group outings...this sounds AMAZING!

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    1. Well if you're ever in this part of the world we will definitely take you out!!!

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  24. You guys are so good to your friend! That's such a cool idea, and really, the perfect bridal party.

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  25. I'd really like to do a hunter pace or paper chase sometime. Your group sounds like a lot of fun.

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  26. This gave me all the feels! I want a blogger engagement party paper chase..in a million years if that ever happens lol

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  27. OMG the veils are EPIC. I love it!! Congrats to your friend <3

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