Anyway, Friesians aren't really known for their jumping ability, and I could never find anyone to ride with me...until this past weekend. A trail riding buddy of mine suggested we try the Glenmore Hunt Club's Fall Hunter Pace, and I leaped at the chance to give it a try. This particular hunter pace was a perfect fit for us because it included a trail riding division which allowed western tack (my friend rides in a western saddle) and which made jumping completely optional. There was no minimum or maximum speed, but the team that completed the course closest to the optimal time set by the sponsor of the event would be the winner for each division. And presumably the optimal times for the different divisions would range from full hunt pace for the most expert division to something much slower for our division. The interesting thing about this hunter pace (and many others) is that the optimal time is a secret. You have to guess what the optimal pace is based on your division and the terrain and ride your horse as close as you can to what you think you should be doing. Of course I have no idea what an optimal hunter pace is because I am positive that no respectable hunt club would let me or my horse within 10 miles of them if they had a choice. Nimo and I just don't have the hygiene skills required of hunt club participants.
So, on Sunday morning, we set out for the Staunton, Virginia area without really knowing what to expect, other than a few basic guidelines. It was a fairly long drive - over 2 hours - and we arrived at about 10:45. After checking in and tacking up, we ended up waiting for awhile to see how the start was supposed to work. There were no assigned start times and it was basically just a line of teams with 1 minute or so between starts. After figuring that out, we got in line.
Nimo was totally jacked up. He was fresh and ready to get going, so I ended up walking him in circles while we waited our turn. Once we got started, it was apparent that both horses were feeling their oats, so after a warming up at the walk for about 10 minutes, we trotted when we could to get some of the kinks worked out.
At first, the terrain seemed a little hilly, but nothing too exciting, and Nimo and I were even able to jump a few of the early jumps because they were essentially just big logs. Once the coops started coming up, we had to bail around them because they were just a little bigger than we were used to, but I think by next year, we could do at least a couple of them if we practice.
Then we also noticed that despite the rolling hills appearance of the terrain, we were actually in the mountains. Those mountains meant a lot of climbing and very little flat land.
We did ride through some forest:
And a lot of fields:
And we even saw some cows:
|Warning: Cows are much closer than they appear!|
And we had an absolute blast. Part of the reason I have so few pictures is because I was having so much fun. I loved doing the little log jumps and Nimo started getting the hang of them. At first he literally jumped with his front end, paused, and then jumped with his back end, but he was doing the logs more smoothly later in the ride.
The other reason I have so few pictures is because many of the ones I took were of the ground (see below). I just got a new iPhone after having had an HTC for several years, and apparently there is a learning curve. And I had to keep brushing the hay dust off the phone every time I took it out of my pocket. (Note to self: empty pockets of hay dust before my next ride.)
Anyway, the ride was tons of fun. It took us about 1:45 to go what I estimate is 6.5-7 miles (I'm still enforcing my GPS ban for this month), which was a great pace for us, given the terrain. I never found out what the optimal time was for our division or where we finished in relation to that time, but I got the sense that this ride was really meant for people to just have fun, rather than to obsess about competition. I'm definitely planning to keep my eye open for more hunter paces, because I can see that they will make great conditioning rides, be a blast, and give us the opportunity to ride through private land that isn't normally available.