Thursday, September 6, 2018

professional hunter pace jockeys!

Are you all ready for some photo spam? I hope so haha, bc it's coming. As I mentioned a few times already, my friends and I spent the last few weeks preparing for our annual Labor Day hunter pace / paper chase tradition at Tranquility Manor Farms.

obviously i had to jack the stirrups way up for pictures haha. pc Austen Gage
This year we went with a "race horse + jockeys" theme after being inspired by shamelessly stealing the idea from Sarah haha.


misty early race day morning!
The forecast had looked iffy all week, but somehow we got lucky. Like sure it was muggy and humid, but basically pretty reasonably dry out. And the ground was in good shape too!

Birdie and Marley lookin sharp!
Our group is always pretty widely varied - usually a mixture of seasoned horses (like Isabel in past years, or Charlie now) and very green or inexperienced horses. This time around we had a couple training level event horses, mixed with a horse who was getting her first real outing under saddle, and another horse who has basically been sitting for ages.

CALM DOWN, CHARLIE!
The general rule we tend to go by is to ride to the lowest/greenest level in the group, whether that means for the horse or rider. On this particular day tho, all the riders had a fair amount of experience and knew their horses well -- so mostly it boiled down to ensuring each of the horses was doing good and feeling happy.

Marley was a good little nugget for her first real outing under saddle
Everyone was pretty chill at the trailer (except for one oopsie moment resulting in a temporarily loose mare fancy prancing around the grounds.... whoops!) and we all had a lot of fun oohing and aahing over everyone's outfits as we slowly tacked up.

Brita and Bella stayed true to form in bright pink and blue!
It was cool to see how each rider had planned too -- Rachael and I had regular saddle towels with DIY'd numbers glued on (or safety pinned, in Rachael's case haha). Janelle and Brita had gone full fledged DIY with their saddle blankets, complete with silky finish (and awesome teal trim on Janelle's!). Kaitlyn had hot pink body paint on Kiss's rump, and Anna was actually dressed in full head to tail legit gear that she uses with her actual hurdles horse.

SOMEBODY GIVE THIS HORSE A XANAX STAT
Same story with bridles and other pieces of tack. A couple of us had picked up some fun new pieces like Charlie's new browband and reins that are 100% getting moved to his hackamore after this lol. Kaitlyn had a whole new hot pink bridle, and Rachael picked up some blinkers (tho she took the eye pieces off). And Brita covered her normal hackamore in fun ribbons, plus had excellent electrical tape on her boots.

Birdie's blinkers were killer haha
All in all, even tho we were all dressed kinda differently, it really felt like the look pulled together haha. Like maybe not convincing as super serious real life jockeys or whatever lol, but definitely the right "impression," especially when all together in a group.

assembling the group!
Which like, that's half the battle, right?? Haha..... gotta do it for the pictures or else what's the point?!? It was also really cool to see that almost every other group on the grounds was dressed in matching outfits to some degree. Mostly just nice tan or white pants with matching barn polos or something.

does charlie look excited?!? lol.... pc Austen Gage
But a couple other groups dressed up really cute too: like a mother-daughter duo dressed in head to toe purple (literally the horses wore purple hoof polish!) complete with ribbons in the manes and tails. Very cute!

Kaitlyn and Kiss went full throttle pink, complete with hand painted butt numbers haha. Anna and Penny in the back right actually wore full on legit gear, including her own real silks!
The ride itself was basically exactly what you would imagine: about 2.5-3 miles across Tranquility's cross country fields and wooded trails. We entered the adult novice option class: jumps optional and probably a slower speed. I don't think the class really matters tho, except that the optimum times are different between each class.

waiting to hit the course!
A couple of the horses in our group wouldn't be jumping, but that's nbd - none of the jumps are mandatory and everything can be gotten around, as you'll see in the helmet cam.

an impressive combined 17 years of racing experience among this group of veteran OTTBs! (not including Bella, who never made it to the track)
Tho for Charlie, I knew I wanted to jump some stuff haha. Not like, a ton. And not being like crazy serious about schooling or whatever. But I wanted to go out there and have some fun. Mission accomplished!

most of the ride was open fields but there were some fun trail portions too
After leaving the start gates we trotted immediately over some small brush fences into the arena, which only slightly confused Charlie haha, cantered around in there before jumping out a coop into the next arena, then out the gate and across the driveway into the first cross country field!!

weeeeeee brick wall!!
The start was a little hectic for our group as everyone got settled into gear.... Mostly we kinda all just bombed around that first field a little bit (in the helmet cam video) as we followed the markers. It was at this point that... it turned out all the horses were a little full of it. Or, uh, a LOT full of it in one little gray mare's case, tho I won't name any names. Ahem. Haha. (it's in the helmet cam tho and it's moderately hilarious lol).

you can't tell me this horse isn't the actual embodiment of prince charming lol. pc Austen Gage
Some of the greenies were keeping to a slower pace tho, so mostly we settled into a rhythm of horses who wanted to jump going out ahead of the rest of the group and doing whatever we were gonna do, then coming back to a walk or halt to wait for the team to regroup.

yup. so many group shots haha! pc Austen Gage
It seemed to work out pretty well for keeping the horses from losing their heads, but it definitely made for slow progress. We got passed by no less than two other teams haha. So I guess we jockeys weren't that fast after all!

complete with little gray mare shenanigans and at least one full out gallop with charlie....

Charlie, for his part, was honestly pretty great. Like, way too fucking strong and definitely kinda trying to run away with me. Not in a bad or mean way. Nothing dangerous and he always did eventually come to a stop, and always went in the direction I asked him to go.... But.... Yea. Dis why I don't typically jump him out in the open in a plain snaffle (not to mention no noseband or flash lol!).

Jan and Austen (plus huskies!!) met us as the finish too! and Jan finally got to meet Charlie!! she was funny bc she's so used to massive dressage warmbloods that even tho Charlie is big tall and long, he's still basically a lean TB type and thus "not really that big" haha
Ah well haha. I'm not sure it really constituted a proper "schooling" but... ya know... it didn't have to. He had fun, I had fun. And he jumped all the jompies!! Most of them pretty freakin well! And only like, a couple that were sorta kinda bad. Which I see as real progress considering they were all kinda small and Charlie's not known for being particularly respectful of small jumps haha.

charlie was happy to soak up all the attention regardless haha. he's such a ham, always happy to meet new ppl!
One notable observation: This was the first time I'd jumped him out on terrain without studs since getting him drilled and tapped last month. I had been feeling like the studs were an advantage - like there was a noticeable difference in Charlie's carriage, balance, and confidence when he had the studs in. But I also wasn't really sure if that was just like... confirmation bias or whatever.

tho it's also entirely possible that he was actually napping too lol
In this ride tho, while he never really slipped or felt backed off or not confident or whatever, I noticed that he wasn't as quick with his auto lead changes as he has been when wearing studs. Like a couple times cantering around on a circle on uneven ground in a way that I kiiiiiinda didn't like, when I would have expected him to just change his leads, but he didn't.

With the studs he's SUPER QUICK to pop lead changes all over the place. Like you pull a rein and he changes. It's nice, I like it lol. So if anything this ride without the studs was just more info that they are truly useful for the big guy. Good to know!

yup. that's charlie. he can go from all out galloping across the fields, jumping whatever's in his path, to straight up snoozin in about 30 seconds flat haha
Anyway tho, after a quick trip to the water complex (we were already so slow there didn't seem like any point in rushing back to the finish line by this point), and one last canter through the arena (and past Austen's waiting camera!!) and over a couple more jumps, the ride was finally finished!

i mean, if you can't play dress up and take selfies with your poneh, what even is the point anyway?!? lol
The ride, but not the day obvi haha. Bc if you've been following along with 'Fraidy Cat Eventing for any length of time, you already know we're big fans of the tailgate haha.

charlie likes hangin out with the crowd at the tail gate haha
I mean, let's be real: half the fun of a ride is being finished with the ride lol, and getting to sit back and relax and recount how fun it was. Or how naughty certain gray mares were lol....

tho obvi the exertions of the day caught up to him and he passed the F out on the trailer. not even shoving carrots in his face could wake him up!
I was super excited too that Austen and Jan had come to hang out too - definitely a nice surprise!! And as with any party, the more the merrier!! We certainly had no shortage of bubbly, either in terms of champagne or spiked seltzers or beer lol.

he is the most fun tho <3 <3 <3 and yea i totally sent this picture of him being a "pretend" race horse to his former track connections lol. pc Austen Gage
So it was a fun day. Charlie was quite pleased to have a lovely harem of mares all to himself for the ride lol, and all the riders also seemed to have really good days with their horses. Paper Chases and Hunter Paces are always such good opportunities to get the horses out for positive experiences. Whether they're green and needing more mileage, or more seasoned but still able to benefit from low pressure fun.

obsessed <3 pc Austen Gage
Plus I'm happy basically any time I'm able to go cantering Charlie off into the sunset haha..... Esp now that he knows how to canter across terrain without falling down and dying!

Sometimes I feel like we should forget about competing and just do hunter paces and paper chases or even like, fox hunting, forever and ever and ever. Bc these types of rides are so fun. Tho then again I know I'd eventually miss the shows too, let's be real. Hopefully we'll be able to keep up the tradition of doing at least one or two of these types of rides each year!

Do you ever like to go on rides like this? Whether it's an actual organized hunter pace, or just an informal gathering of friends for schooling and/or trail riding? Do you like riding in groups, or does it depend on what kind of activity you're doing or what horses are in the group?

44 comments:

  1. Emma, oh my goodness! Those photos of you and Charlie! <3 <3 <3 Your smile. His expression. I freaking LOVE them.

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    1. Lol me too!! I’m usually so serious at competitions even when I know cameras are around that I can’t always get fun smiling pictures. This time tho I knew right where Austen was and was ready to ham it up lol!! #worthit

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  2. This was so much fun! You guys really know how to make it an event!

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    1. Thanks so much for coming!! We love us a good party filled with good horses and friends ! Definitely makes for great memories ;)

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  3. Love this!! Looks like you guys had so much fun! You and Charlie look great - I hope you print/frame the pic of you near the bottom - it is awesome! :-)

    I so need to do something fun like that - maybe next year. I don't seem to get out to just ride much these days.

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    1. you totally should!!! there's so much value in having that little bit of "just for fun" in our riding lives. i can get so serious with all my planning and training and scheduling and "everything just so" that it can become a bit of a grind. rides like this are the perfect antidote! plus it's great to keep the horses fresh ;)

      and yea i'm totally printing that pic, probably will give it to my mom for christmas or something, maybe with a couple ribbons <3

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  4. this looks so fun - i loved your last post where you were like "we dress up... even tho it's not mandatory... or maybe even encouraged"

    charlie looks soooo handsome and GIGANTIC.

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    1. ha yea, i think the organizers like it tho!! they certainly indulge us lol.... in the past when it's been called a "paper chase" they've only required that one team member in each group wear a pinny. this year since it was a "hunter pace" they wanted every rider to wear a pinny. honestly i'm not toooootally sure why, but i think bc the courses were shorter one single rider might do multiple rides? idk haha, but in any case when they started handing out pinnies and a few of us spotted our saddle numbers in the bunch they totally indulged us by letting us pick matching numbers <3

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  5. "With the studs he's SUPER QUICK to pop lead changes all over the place. Like you pull a rein and he changes." Very refined method of asking for lead changes...

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    1. auto changes are the height of refinement, dontcha know ;)

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  6. So much fun! Love the costumes. I’m not sure why but having Charlie dress up and “pretend” to be a racehorse makes me giggle. Big man has been there done that :)

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    1. lol right?? that was kinda my sense too - like he was some sort of older over the hill dad trying to squeeze back into his highschool football uniform again haha.... he's definitely a bit more, er, *robust* now than he was on the track, that's for sure!! lol....

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  7. That looks like a ton of fun! I think if I were to stop horse showing I would want to take up fox hunting. (I would need to move somewhere with fox hunting for sure lol)

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    1. i love the idea of fox hunting so so so so much, it is literally almost painful to me that i still haven't actually made it out for anything.... maybe this year? who knows.... if you come to maryland again tho we definitely need to figure out a way to go hunting!

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  8. OMG you all look so good! I can't even tell who has the "real" silks everyone did such an amazing job!

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    1. aw thanks haha!! we had so much fun, and definitely love going overboard with the outfits lol. i wish i had taken a better picture of Anna, since she's only ever really in the background of the shots above - but she had on her own blue and green silks, plus what looked like a black nylon bridle that i believe she also uses on her hurdles horse. it looked great!

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    2. My hubs and I go to almost all the local steeplechase races. I will have to look for her!

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    3. oooh definitely!! honestly i'd never met her before so i don't know any more details than that - and it's possible that she's not always the one riding her horse (who i believe is a gelding). but i bet she's out and about, and she was super nice!!

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    4. oh and it's hard to tell from the pics bc of the pinnies, but it's a green shirt with blue X across the front, and blue skull cap cover

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  9. Your group looked AMAZING! What a super fun theme. Posts like this, where riders are just genuinely enjoying their horses and friendship with each other, make me SO HAPPY. So thrilled for you!!!!

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    1. aw thanks, Kelly! this is literally the stuff of girlhood dreams for me and i'm beyond gratified to finally have my very own pony who seems to enjoy it as much as i do!

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  10. Looks like a blast! I really think that horses enjoy these type of event ALMOST as much as the people do. <3

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    1. i agree 1,000% haha, i think it was really nice for charlie to go through the whole trailering process without having to go to a show or very serious lesson or whatever - he got to just run around like a loon and enjoy himself!

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  11. Seriously at Lead Changer Anonymous up there? Eyeroll.
    Love the costumes, love the video and I have half a mind to move out to y'all so I can come tailgate - I love nothing more!

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    1. lololol Denise likes to hate on like... basically everything i do with charlie. i guess even adult ammies playing ponies still have to meet certain standards?!? who knows....

      and YAS you should totally come up to maryland and play ponies with us!! i'm sure we'd be able to rustle up a horse for you and everything lol

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    1. it was definitely a welcome and awesome change of Pace lol (see what i did there?!? haha)

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  13. This looks SO freaking fun!!! I'm also so impressed with you all galloping your OTTBs out TOGETHER. You are no fraidy cat!! I love the costumes and all the thought you put into them. Honestly, this is what having a horse is all about! SO MUCH FUN

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    1. aw haha thanks - in fairness we have VERY GOOD horses lol, and they all have a reasonable amount of practice in trotting and cantering around in company (usually in the safety of familiar places and smaller numbers) altho they were definitely a little more wild in this ride!! but yea totally - this is absolutely what horses are all about to me, and i love it <3

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  14. I love all your costumes! Looks like such a cool and fun day out. Never miss an opportunity for playing ponies and dress ups!

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  15. Those pictures of him from the side being a "pretend" racehorse.....hubba hubba. He looks amazing <3 I'm glad it was a blast!

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  16. So fun and I love how you can just feel your happiness in the photos! I really like hunter paces but we don't have as many around me as we did when I was a kid, which is a bummer. I LOVE FOXHUNTING and you should totally try it someday! I did it for two seasons and hope to do it again eventually with my new mare. :-)

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  17. OMG You are both so cute!!!! The whole group is!!! Steal away :D Looks like such a fun day!!

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  18. I was reading this thinking oh that sounds like so much fun. Then I saw a certain gray mare and I saw myself. :) But I still want to do it!

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  19. It was GREAT to finally meet Charlie! And see you of course! What really helps him not look so big is we have an OTTB who is not only tall (17h and growing), but warmblood broad, and enjoys throwing his weight around while being as tall as horsely possible because he thinks it's fun. It takes BO's 6'5" 300+ lb son to side track his worst shenanigans. The rest of us flail whips and lead ropes and pray he doesn't jump on us!

    Also, I think a side event for Penn's walking would be to dress him up as a racehorse!

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  20. So much fun!!! We have a hunter pace in the area around Halloween and a lot of people dress up for it. Some of the costumes are intense!!! But I don’t think anyone has dressed up like jockeys so might have to get a group this year to do that :)

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  21. Hi Guys
    I have published the full schedule of events for the World Equestrian Games in Tryon starting next week.
    I have also included a few links where you can get all the TV times in the UK and USA, as well as a few websites that will be streaming most of the events.
    So it’s pretty much all you’ll need to keep up with the action. I hope that helps ease some of the FOMO
    Here is the link, it’s yours to use as you please
    http://clear-round.com/index.php/2018/08/25/weg-tryon-2018-schedule/
    Cheers
    Dave

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