Tuesday, September 7, 2021

taking flight @ tranquility!

Our little barn group headed out bright and early Sunday morning for what's become an annual tradition: Tranquility's Labor Day Hunter Pace!! Get ready for the photo spam haha!

repurposing kid's costumes FTW!! also, it's hard to tell, but Royal's boots are literally dripping in blue glitter omg
Our team consisted of two OTTBs and two pony mares. All first-timers except Charlie, tho one rider did past outings with her late mare, Cos. So Charlie was technically the most experienced of the group, but it was honestly a downright great set of horses for this kind of ride. 

i love how Tink looks like a dragon here, ready for her wings lol.... 
(in reality, she's just cat-stretching haha, see the extended hind leg?)
Obvi we all dressed for the occasion too -- horses included lol. It really doesn't take much to throw together a reasonably cohesive and fun look, ya know? One set of glittery mesh costume wings in all different colors, and each horse + rider color-coordinated shirts, saddle pads, and accents like gloves, boots, bonnets etc. Ta da!

Stella was absolutely mint condition in her little wings too <3
also, omg, the izzy vibes are so strong haha
Extra details finished the look: Katie's epic dragon wings (with retractable pull cords to open + close, omg); and Charlie's repurposed-kid-costume butterfly saddle pad lol. Another set of mesh wings adorned Stella's saddle pad, and Royal dazzled in his array of glittery body paint designs! 

Royal's glittery butt paint!! this pic was actually post-ride, too. pretty sure she used Tresemme glitter gel for it
It was a little tricky layering all the wings and pinnies etc, but once we were all dressed -- it was GO TIME!! 

lol my wild beastie was a bit of a pre-ride pest....
You don't really need to warm up for these rides, and honestly we don't bother for the longer 6-8mi paces. But this weekend was only ~2.5mi, and we knew we wanted to spend some time jumping around. So -- off to the warm up ring we went! 

obvi he's still a total pro, tho <3
Which.... Proved to be a good call haha. The dragon wings were.... uh... just a tad too spooky at speed. They snapped and flapped like noisy flags at anything faster than a walk, which sent poor Tink scooting up Chuck's butt, thus sending poor Chuck scooting forward too haha. 

So, eh, the executive decision was made to ditch that set and replace with the last remaining set of mesh kid's wings. At least we'd already gotten our pictures LOL (bc let's be real, isn't that the important part here?? lol). 

ahhhh-mazing, right?? the wings had little draw strings so they opened and closed omg
Meanwhile, the other riders who had never really done a ride quite like this with their horses (meaning: crowds everywhere, trotting and cantering in different directions as far as the eye can see) got a feel for how to manage their horses in the conditions. 

Again -- these are all very good riders on reasonably experienced horses. But group riding will always feel a little different, and it's important to make sure you're really supporting your horse, who might be more distracted and on edge than you're used to feeling. 

wheeeeee lift off!!! gettin run away with in warm up lol!! 
So everyone walked, trotted, cantered, and jumped around a little in the warm up to sorta 'calibrate the parameters' lol, and then before we knew it, we were out on course!!

don't be fooled by those pretty Thornridge pics -- this how we trot like 95% of the time lol
The track dumped us almost immediately into Tranquility's first main xc field alongside the driveway, where naturally we all popped over a couple things here and there. Starting with a little log to get the feel for it, then some more exciting stuff. 

omg wings errywhere!! sadly, had to replace the too-spooky dragon wings for the notably-tamer pink pair... ah well, was worth the try!
We had a couple good trots and canters out, then found ourselves descending the hill toward the water hole, where we had another fun little school (and Royal got to settle some years-old history with those blasted blue twisty tables LOL). 

flying lol
Then we zoomed up another hill, jumping all the fun jumps along the way -- like the awesome rampy chevron thing, and arrived in another little schooling zone with the ditch etc. Obvi everyone got to play a bit there too haha. 

Tho, omg, Charlie actually kinda peeked at the tiny little ditch! Probably baggage from me catapulting off of him back at Fair Hill, whoops... He jumped it, tho, and that's what matters <3

ok we did not win any awards for team posing haha
Actually --- Charlie jumped everything pretty freakin great. He had been quite emotional at the trailers, in his own internalizing sort of way. The track went around a path right behind our trailers on the other side of a wall... So Charlie was very worried by all these groups of horses zipping past out of sight.... 

wheee go team!!!
Then in warm up he felt a little fragile, esp after getting a bit spooked by the Dragon Wings lol.... Then kinda wanted to be very strong and running away with me when we started jumping. 

the sadness of my selfie game: people faces OR pony faces, but NOT both, lol.... siiiiigh
But once we got out onto the course? He felt great!! Like, still very strong -- esp in the early part of the ride. He wanted to race up all the hills, and spring forth into canter the moment any other horse picked up speed... But he really jumped everything very very nicely.  

silly? 100% yes. the most fun? absolutely
I made it my business to be careful with my hands and not take him for granted. If we wanna jump, we gonna jump like we've been taught lol, not just running headlong at random stuff. So I held the neck strap like a good little {flying} monkey, and kept my leg on and eye up. 

And Charlie happily cantered on up to everything in a nice forward but still uphill balance -- and found everything right out of stride. Good boy!! 

another attempt at posing near the end of the ride, as we passed the trailers
I was also happy with my bridle choice. Charlie has so many different bridles... I can torture myself about what to wear lol.... 

The hackamore is an old favorite, but sometimes Charlie jumps better with more contact than it should do. Our KK loose ring snaffle tried at past paces isn't enough when Charlie gets really strong -- I end up just hangin on him. And this past spring, Charlie officially declared our go-to KK elevator bit as too pinch-y. So... we switched to a loose ring waterford, which Charlie's worn for most of our big rides and outings this year. 

I was always convinced Charlie did better with leverage vs different mouth pieces... But after seeing interviews with multiple grand prix show jumpers who said they liked this bit for horses who lean, we decided to try it. And? Charlie seems to like it! No head tossing, no fussing, and, uh, it works -- but without backing him off, he can still push into it. 

Works for me! And this ride felt like a great proof of concept -- and was maybe the first hunter pace where I felt like Charlie wore the exact right bridle for the occasion. 

finish line!!!
The course kinda meandered around through some fields, tho notably not around all the pasture lines we've used as gallop stretches in the past. And oddly enough, even tho the track was basically the reverse of last year -- and I complained last year about it being 'mostly down hill' -- it still felt 'mostly down hill' this year too. 

clocked a finish time of 39min, optimum time (kept top secret until after) was 26min. imo, it was extra time well spent!
So we probably skipped something like half the jumps, bc eh no thanks to jumping down hill LOL. Sure, a reasonable person might note this was the perfect opportunity to practice in safe low-key settings.... But, eh, nahhh, haha! 

Finally, tho, after one little tromp through the woods, we emerged in the last xc field for a quick circuit back to the finish line over a row of bright red hunt coops (gif above)! 

the boys back at the trailer. omg it is definitely time to trim that tail, eh?
I was super proud of Charlie at the finish for jumping the 3' coop foot-perfect (thankfully, since it was hella crowded LOL), AND pulling up right at the line quite easily -- rather than mowing down any innocent bystanders like he might have in years past haha... hahaha. 

until next time!! 
And with that, our ride was finished!! Elapsed time of 39 minutes over the 2.5mi track. Pretty slow, all things considered, but time well spent schooling around all the fun little areas on course.

All that was left was to enjoy a quick cold white claw at the trailers while we cooled off and untacked the horses, and rehashed our favorite parts of the ride. Each horse got to jump a lot of new and interesting things and gain in confidence and experience. And they were all fantastic about group riding!! No bolting, bucking, kicking -- nada!!  

Everyone had a good time, and... ya know.... that's kinda the whole point -- of all of it, haha. Obvi the costumes are a little silly, but it just makes the whole experience so much more memorable. We're already looking forward to next time!! 


  1. Omg I need those dragon wings! It looks like some of my kids birthday parties- everyone running around gleefully.

    1. i'm like 93% positive she got those wings off amazon... like if you search "dragon wings" or "mechanical wings" lol. and yes, omg, much running around with glee!!

  2. Love it!! If you can't have fun and be silly a lot of the time, what's the point? lol Life is super crazy right now, so letting your hair...err...wings down and having a fun ride sounds awesome!

    1. dude for real, stuff like this is just so.... mentally and emotionally refreshing haha. like, all these horses and riders have ambitious goals and are invested in their training etc, but ya know, they also just love having fun with their horses!

  3. Charlie looks so perfect with the blue sparkly wings!!! I love it!

    1. ha thanks -- i was so pleased with how those wings turned out, they really worked!! at first it seemed like they wouldn't stay down or would get blown around by the wind etc -- but actually esp after he started sweating and they got a bit damp, they stayed put perfectly!

  4. I know that dragon LOL (and as a result should finally get to meet you at Fair Hill this year - yay!) You guys look great!

    1. omg yay!!! that's awesome -- i'm already so excited haha, it's coming up soon :D

  5. Love the costumes! I'm a little sad about the dragon wings not working out because they are amazing! Sounds like a really fun day!

    1. omg we were so sad about the wings too.... like, it's possible the horse would have gotten used to them quickly and then not cared... but also like, that's really not the point lol. the point is to have fun, feel confident and get fun pics!

  6. I love reading about this every year. The costumes were amazing and it looks so fun!

  7. Fun! I wore those same wings Charlie has on last Halloween =)

  8. This always looks like such a fun time! I love your saddle pad!

  9. Those red wings are amazing and you all look great!


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