Sunday, May 25, 2008

Poor Pace At the Hunter Pace

Another gorgeous weekend, another fun time with Brego. On Saturday we trailered across the Maine-New Hampshire border to attend a Hunter Pace hosted by the Wentworth Hunt. The pace was a little over 10 miles long and the optimal time for Hilltoppers was 2 hours 10 minutes.

Without knowing the time, or even how fast usual hunt fields go, I set out with two Thoroughbreds on my team. I knew there would be some fences on course. I knew that they maxed out at 3'. And I knew that my one goal of the day was to get Brego forward to fences he has never laid eyes on. I have to tame the looky loo monster before I get eliminated on cross-country from him burying himself into the base of fences. Any loss of forward momentum, once presented, counts as a refusal.

So we set out at a forward trot and I have to say, Brego just kept trotting. The Thoroughbreds had trouble keeping up with his stride! The two other riders were on horses that were much less settled and calm about the whole thing, so we kept cantering to a minimum to keep everyone quiet.

The fences were off the trail a bit, so sometimes you would truck right past them and then notice a coop off in the woods and have to circle back. Not ideal for teaching "FORWARD, now!" Brego was extremely looky. Most of the fences were simple coops, although a couple of them were decorated with tires or other spooky things. I got him over everything though, even some pretty large 3 footers. There were a couple one strides I skipped because we are no where near ready to school combinations in the field.

Brego did get better towards the end, but there were so few jumps, I can't honestly say we have this problem schooled. Over the 10 miles, we had about 3 honest refusals and 1 runout I can only blame on myself and the tree that smacked me in the face on the approach causing me to duck to the side. Brego followed my weight.

So the homework that came out of that is more cross country schooling, which is, of course, the one thing I cannot do at home. I must find a spot, trailer out, and pay a schooling fee. Brilliant!

As far as the pace was concerned, Brego finished the ride tired, but with some gas still. He power trotted the full 10 miles, it seems. He was sweaty, while the Thoroughbreds were dry, so he might be ready for another body clip. And we finished the ride 40 minutes under time. Oops. I never pushed him on. During the short walk breaks, I would simply pick up my reins and off we would go again. So trotting, he can go for days. I need to start conditioning the canter.

He was a good boy, especially considering he worked so hard but stayed handy, all in his double jointed egg butt snaffle. I saw a lot of other horses jigging all the way in elevator gags. What an exhausting ride! I also suspect that Brego's one true calling is foxhunting. He is so much fun to take out since he never loses his brain and is very careful. Once I fix his confidence so he jumps forward readily in the field, he will be a wonderful hunter. I chatted with the Hunt Masters after the ride and got the scoop on capping and membership. If you think I won't be following the hounds through the fields in my canary vest this fall, you're dead wrong!


Mikey said...

I've been following you guys for a while, and I've got to say, you two look so good together. Love the canary vest :)
I learn a lot from your blog. I have a big horse I'm working English, he's off track so still racey, but we'd like to event, maybe, someday, lol. Lot of work to do but we take lessons...
Just got to say I enjoy your blog a lot and your adventures. You are amazing! Keep it up!

Beckz said...

Thats sounds like a lot of fun. It's good that you had a nice group of you all willing to go at a similar speed and that he jumped everything, even if it took more than one attempt :)