Windridge Hunter Pace 2017

Hunter paces are my favorite thing. Typically I’m out there all by myself which is still fun, but everything is better with a friend. When I met KC at AECs and she expressed and interest in hitting one up this fall, I was practically peeing myself with excitement. Blogger friend and a hunter pace? Sign me up!

Gemmie looking gorgeous in her endurance bridle with her jump saddle. 

I’m an early morning fool which is usually a turn off for fellow human beings, but KC was game to meet at 9 am for the start and we were the first ones out on course. I love being the first out there as you can avoid some of the etiquette issues that pop up later in the day when the trails get crowded. Plus there is something about riding in the early morning cool air that speaks to me.

Is that a Pilgrim butt I see???

The weather was perfect as we set out following the pink ribbons on the right. Gem isn’t into leading on trail, so we ducked behind and I was sorta a back seat driver helping to point out the ribbons. It was maybe an ominous sign when the guy counted us down and we immediately made a wrong turn. About 2 feet from the start. I’m sure the guy was thinking we would never return.

Yup, that is a Pilgrim butt 🙂

The first section was through the woods leading to the cross country field. We warmed up with some nice trot and Gem and Pilgrim got along pretty well. No pinned ears or fussing and Gem was able to keep up with Pilgrim’s massive stride without an issue. At the trot anyway.

Once we hit the cross country course and the trail became wide open grassy lanes, we let the horses open up into a canter. Or well, Pilgrim cantered. Gemmie had to gallop to keep up. Poor mare was not very happy that she was getting out run by a good bit. Sorry mare, you just aren’t built to race an OTTB!

Gem is very competitive so when we opened them up on the next section, she decided that if she couldn’t out run him she would out smart him. She took off at a gallop cutting through the weeds in a straight line thereby getting from point A to B minus all the switchbacks that you were supposed to do. Little cheating mare! I got her wrangled back on trail and forced her to canter politely until we caught up commenting that Gem was likely thinking that I screwed it all up yet again.

Things were going great. Perfect weather, two game and ready horses and amazing company. We were making good time too and I was figuring that we would be pretty close to optimum at the pace we were going. Then we got a little lost. They added a poker run to the mix and told us that at the various carriage obstacles there would be a bucket with playing cards. At the end we should have five. I saw a bucket off to our left just as we were leaving the cross country field and grabbed the card but then the trail kinda looked wrong. There were markers going both right and left and the ribbons were on our left. Hmmm…we back tracked and easily found our missed turn and got back on track.

Gorgeous views along the way. 

From there it was another few canters, one run in with a rider going the wrong way and turning to gallop off right in front of us, and then we hit a tiny snag.

We came to a creek crossing and Pilgrim said “oh hell no”. Gem plowed ahead and he followed her lead over the water then we paused so KC could school him over it. He went back and forth several times no issue and we moved along to conquer the rest of the trail.

Schooling back and forth over the creek crossing. 

We got into a lovely groove of trotting and walking with a lot of laughter and fun thrown in as we climbed up and over a large hill and descended again. The morning was flying by under a beautiful blue sky and I was thoroughly enjoying being out on trail with Gem.

My natural element is being in the woods. Gem agrees. 

We came to another water crossing and Pilgrim once again put a hard stop on that. Gem gave the lead, but Pilgrim wasn’t having it. This is more KC’s story to tell but he did go over eventually only to run smack into another crossing about 10 feet later.

Just down stream from the crossing that Pilgrim put his hoof down on. 

We spent about 30 minutes trying to get him over. Eventually a couple on TWHs came up and tried to help. It was hilarious. The guy’s TWH must be used to teaching younger horses how to do the trail because he went behind Pilgrim and gave him a hard shove several times in the butt. When that didn’t convince him to cross, he started biting his butt. Duke just stood there calmly behind Pilgrim biting him and obviously telling him to grow a set and just cross already. I was doubled over laughing.

Duke crossing back over to teach that young whipper snapper a thing or two

Unfortunately no amount of coercion worked. The other couple left us to continue on their ride and I took a look at our surroundings. While living in the woods is tempting, I wasn’t so sure KC wanted to plop a tent out there and live there with P for the rest of her days. Fortunately, there was an easy way to pop up onto the paved road that paralleled the trail and it was only a short ways down before the trail re crossed that road and entered the woods again.

This trail took us to the very secluded dressage arena. I saw a vulture circiling over head and joked with KC that anyone who didn’t do well on their dressage ride got eaten. Good luck next week KC!! Lol!!!

The secluded dressage arena. I have no clue how you are supposed to get there from the barns, but I am sure there is a simple trail. 

We thought our troubles were behind us and started joking around some more until BAM another water crossing and then another. I’m sure Pilgrim was thinking enough with the water already people!

Showing Pilgrim how it is done

More woods, more trotting and talking and laughing. Around this point Dusty texted me and asked if I had signed up for the slow old lady division. He is used to me being done with these in about 1 1/2 hours and we were over 2 hours at this point without an end in sight. No worries though, I was still having a blast!

This bridge was the only thing on course that gave Gem pause. She isn’t really a fan of bridges to begin with and this one was particularly dicey without any railings and with a very deep pit on either side. 

There was one last speed bump at a ditch and I do believe KC threatened to sell P at this point. I’ve been there and done that with Gem many a times. The threat typically helps 🙂

The last bit was back through the cross country course and we made great time trotting through everything. I’m not sure what our official ride time was but I believe we were on for nearly 3 hours. I don’t think we are going to hit that elusive optimum time, but we did end up with a decent poker hand with a pair of aces. Since pretty much nobody found all 5 buckets we stood a decent shot at winning a free entry to another hunter pace. We will find out in a couple of days.

Gem did super well through the entire ride. I forgot my GPS watch but it felt like 8-10 miles. She didn’t miss a beat being off trail for so long although she did pull a typical spook and ran into Pilgrim over absolutely nothing. At the end she was bright eyed and could easily have gone again. I love having a fit and happy mare!

Unfortunately we were well over the time I had planned it to take and we had an important meeting at 2 which meant I couldn’t partake in the lovely lunch they had. I basically washed Gem off with some water and shoved her in the trailer so we could go. I did manage to get asked to jump judge at the HT there next weekend so that will be fun specially since KC is competing in it. I can’t wait!!!

I hope KC and Pilgrim aren’t scared off of future paces with us and that we can go again sometime this fall. Even with the few issues in trail it was a complete blast.


San Diego Day #3

Unfortunately my conference started today, so I had to part ways and attend lectures for most of the day. 

Nothing makes a 7:30am lecture a good experience except when it is paired with free food. It made the discussion much more enjoyable.
There was a huge break after breakfast which I used to have a blogger meet up!!! I was so excited to meet with the author of Viva Carlos. She is AMAZING and I only wish I lived close enough to get to know her better. I’m sure we could be friends in real life. Anyway…I grabbed my first ever Lyft ride out to her place and then hoped in her car for a drive out to her barn and local tack shop before hitting up lunch. The drive was gorgeous.
Wild flowers were in abundance along the roadside. Apparently the region has gotten its fair share of rain and the flowers were in full bloom. It was gorgeous!
You would think that being so close to the Tryon International Equestrian Center, home of the 2016/2017 AECs and the 2018 WEG, would mean we have good tack stores. Reality is there aren’t any worth their salt. I just had to get inside a real tack store and drool all over everything. I nearly bought a red and black dressage quilted pad, but realized I had no room in my suitcase to get it back home and sadly put it back.
Beautiful leather everywhere. Just breathing in the scent was enough to satiate me.
Next she took me off to her barn. I was really interested to see how things were done on the West coast. It’s so different than back east. Her barn is massive!! Seeing it in person brought it into perspective for me. Dante is going to have a wonderful home. I also got to meet her trainer too.
More wild flowers on the drive back from the barn. Of course I failed to take any pictures of her or myself. My picture game is lacking.
Then it was time. TACO TIME. I had mentioned to L that I had only had crap tacos, Toxic Hell or homemade kit ones, and I didn’t really get the whole taco addiction. She took me to her favorite spot and I ordered “what she’s having”. It was delicious! Nothing like anything I’d ever called a taco before. So. Good. In fact good enough for me to break my no good picture rule for the second time of the day.
Wyatt and Dusty got off the bus a few blocks away and met us briefly before L took me back to the conference center. We walked down to the ocean overlook then parted ways wth my boys.
Following the blue carpet to my lecture. There are some amazing things being done that can change lives. Currently there is a trial being started on a procedure to CURE spina bifida in utero and erase all neurological defects. A mini trial of four patients was performed with excellent results. It’s simply amazing.
Waiting for the next lecture to start. Apparently all alone but it did fill
Wyatt building a sand castle. The boys went to Pacific Beach and met up with me in passing as we finished eating lunch. I have them a hug and told them to have fun while I was taken back to the conference center for the afternoon of lectures.
Wyatt enjoying the beach to its max. The boy LOVES everything about the beach: waves, water, sand, sun. I was sorry to miss it but I needed to attend the conference.