Sunday, June 19, 2011

hunter pace report

Most importantly: we survived, and I didn't fall off! hah!

Now for the positive things:

Lu loaded GREAT at the barn, trailered quietly with Boe, and unloaded fine once we got to the hunter pace. She was excellent to tack up, had no problems with the bright blue tent that the hunter pace officials were hanging out under next to the warm-up area, and stood quietly for me to mount up. She was SO BRAVE on the ride itself and around mile 3, actually settled down and had the most lovely stretchy trot on loose contact. She wasn't fighting to go faster and really got into a rhythm and was honestly a pleasure and a joy to work with. We had three stretches of canter. The last one was excellent and I even let her "go" a little bit :D She got worried when a little Paso Fino that was absolutely out of its MIND ran up behind us but she listened to my "woah" and held it together while he passed us (running sideways, might I add).


I had to get off and get back on three times in the first 200 feet of the ride. The first one was because she refused to step down off the road we had to cross to get to the trail head and onto the trail itself. There was about an 8" drop and she was being stupid about it. I hopped off and led her onto the trail and got back on. The second time was about five seconds later when she flat out refused to go through a muddy puddle, so I had to get off and lead her through that (and the muddy water went right through my paddock boots, oh joy). I wiped them off as well as I could and got back on. About five seconds later a group of horses was coming back from the ride and had to pass us. This particular area was very narrow, with a fence on one side and thick brush on the other. There really was not space for horses to pass each other and I don't know why the ride organizers arranged for that, because Boe was incredibly unhappy about being passed in such close quarters and kicked out. Lucy is in RAGING heat right now (yeah, I know, perfect timing) and squealed and kicked out with her front feet at the horses going past her. I had to hop off again and pin her against the fence to let people by. Finally I got back on the third time and luckily I stayed in the saddle for the whole ride :D

The biggest disappointment was that after behaving so well for the ride, she flat out refused to get back on the trailer when we were finished. She has NEVER had an issue with trailering. She has happily walked right on every single time we've gone somewhere. She wasn't afraid of the trailer and this was simply a "I don't wanna and you're gonna have to make me!" moment. She decided she did not want to get on that trailer, and it took us 45 minutes to get her to change her mind. She fought. She reared up. She tried flying backwards and at one point got the leadrope out of Claire's hand and trotted off and behind some trees. I was like, come on horse, could we have one outing where you don't REALLY embarrass me?!?!?!?!? The funniest part was that she trotted off, disappeared behind some trees, and then a second later reappeared and trotted right to me looking totally lost.

Eventually we enlisted the help of a friend and she was able to knock some sense into Lucy. I say "knock" because that horse kind of got her hind end handed to her and she deserved every part of it. She was totally disregarding everyones' personal space and was running through people to avoid the trailer. At one point I was close to tears because I was so disappointed in her, but before I knew it she gave up the fight and literally walked on quiet as a mouse. Then she happily stood in there and munched hay for an hour with Boe while Claire and I had lunch. The fact she stood on there totally relaxed like that almost makes me more mad when I think about the 45 minute battle we had to have to get her to load up. She really was giving us all the proverbial horsey middle finger!

Overall, though, I am happy with her. She behaved herself impeccably on the trail ride and we even did a little jump! I was really proud of her for cantering so nicely along with Boe. She could have easily gotten upset about him running next to her, or gotten silly, or tried to take off, but she was very good.


  1. Incredibly annoying about the trailer, but definitely seems like she was testing AND flipping you off. With any luck, she'll outgrow that sooner rather than later. (You can hope, right?)

    Otherwise, sounds like an awesome day! Absolutely amazing that MissEx-Racehorse can keep it together in a group like that so soon after coming off the track - *some* of them never can!

  2. Cool! I love hunter paces. Sounds like that passing situation is a mess, lucky no one got kicked.

  3. I've only been on one hunter pace and that was such a long time ago but I remember it being so much fun!

    Funny, most of the time you hear that a horse was difficult to load in the morning but all too happy to get on to go home. I guess Lucy just wasn't ready to leave yet.

  4. I got a good giggle about the Paso Fino "running sideways" I'm picturing a rider with flailing elbows and a eyes bugging out too. Anyway, that really does sound like fun, what a stinker about the trailer though, sheesh!

  5. I'm totally ignorant - what is a hunter pace?

    Also, Lucy was just keeping you on your toes. If she totally behaves every time you go out, she would be raising the bar and that just won't do!

  6. That sounds like fun! Jetta has done the same trailering thing twice, but she figured out pretty quickly that it was *not* ok, so hopefully Lucy won't do it again either!

  7. Glad you had a good ride, too bad about the trailering.

    Sidenote: When your horse wont go on the trailer, create a shute with 2 lunge lines. Clip them to the trailer and have someone hold each one on either side. If the horse refuses to move forward or is backing up you cross the lines behind. It works every time and has cured many horses of trailering problems. Keeps things stress free rather than forceing the horse on.


    Sounds like a blast, except the trailer loading part. I used to ride a mare who did that occasionally... funny how just putting a stud chain on her halter before loading kept her brain in the right place. ;-) Hopefully, it won't crop up again.

  9. Thanks everyone :D yes it's funny that my main goal lately has been to stay on!

    I think there are approximately 1 million different ways to load a difficult loader. Everyone has their opinions and best practices. I do not like using force with horses, especially a stubborn mare such as Lu, but we had exhausted all other options. I had started out nicely, circling her and backing her up when she refused to go forward. Then she began to get a bit dangerous. Running through someone should NEVER be an option in my opinion, yet she tried it a few times. We tried using a lunge line behind her bum to "push" her forward and she did not like that at all. We tried doing a small circle right in front of the trailer but the problem was we were parked very close to another rig and I was worried about causing damage to that person's truck.

  10. All in all sounds like a great time! The trailer thing, well that sucks....but maybe she didn't want you to get your expectations too high! You know, keep the bar low....just in case you don't feel like it next time

  11. Sounds like a fabulous day (minus the trailering fiasco). Cantering, relaxed stretchy trotting, jumping? Totally sounds better than you had even hoped. Maybe she was just having such a good time that she didn't want to go home?

  12. My stallion won't load on a trailer for anything. I have to ride him on (I know.. how safe is that?) Once his front feet are up I slide off and push him in the rest of the way!
    Sounds like she was just being a mare!

  13. omg-what fun!! I think if at the end of the day, she decided not to load, I'd call that day a success :) No bucking, flying twisting leaps, etc during the ride is a success :)
    I'd love to hear more about the Hunter's pace course, etc! Pictures??!

  14. Marissa, you are so right. She exceeded my expectations and was better behaved than I could have even dreamed of under saddle, and that's what really counted. She was not phased by the 50+ horse trailers, and she didn't care that there were almost 100 horses at the event. I still can't get over the fact that we had a brisk canter down the trail next to another horse with no nonsense. She was really good in all of those respects!

    Molly, that is kind of hilarious. Hey, if it works for you, then that's cool!

    Kristen, I brought a little camera with me (that's the red thing I have hanging from my belt loop in the photo) and the damn thing was dead! So I apologize, but the cellphone photo above is the only one I have from the whole day :( We are planning on doing the next one in July so I will make sure to charge the camera up!

    The course itself was mostly dirt access roads and a few trails. I loved the dirt roads because they were wide enough that the horses could travel side-by-side without battling it out for space. The footing was packed, but ok for cantering. There were only a few rocky parts and we walked over them gingerly. Oh! I forgot to say in the original post that we had to cross not one but TWO wooden bridges, and we did that with minimal issues!!! We also passed many boulders, and though Lu has historically had it out for boulders and any other large inanimate objects that may or may not come alive at any second, she didn't seem to care much about them during the hunter pace.

    Normally hunter paces have lots of cross country jumps but this one didn't have any, very odd. They had a few small stadium-type jumps with very skinny PVC poles. The one we went over was about 6" off the ground (hehe) but she didn't bat an eye. Maybe next time I'll let her try a bigger one (and by bigger I mean 12" off the ground lol).

  15. That sounds like a blast! What a good mare to take it all in stride once you got going!

    Did Lucy seem tired at the end? Maybe she thought she was too tired for a trailer ride? Ha, or just having a mare moment I guess.

  16. Oh yes she was exhausted, which is another reason I was surprised she opted to argue for 45 minutes about getting on instead of just doing it so that she could relax and eat hay.

  17. (this is in2paints) I've been on a couple hunter paces with my mare and they're so much fun! We never do any of the jumps, but I always enjoy watching everyone else.

    Sounds like all went well except for the loading issue you had, and I think you handled it well. You can only give them so many chances to do it on their own, and once they become disrespectful, it's taken to a whole new level.


Thank you so much for taking the time to leave a comment!