Today was perfection. The weather was great, sunny with a cool breeze. The countryside was the deepest shade of emerald, my eyes couldn't drink it fast enough. Dogwoods were in full bloom, scenting the air as we rode by. And of course, the hunter pace was the most fun I've had in months.
Brego was beyond good. He actually enjoyed the ride, getting out and stretching his muscles. We rode the 12 mile course in 1 hour, 40 minutes, and 38 seconds. Optimum time was 1 hour, 40 minutes even, so we placed first out of seven teams.
The footing was at times wet and slick and then dry and rocky. We rode the course mostly at a trot, but had long stretches of gallop. Brego jumped every fence I pointed him at, including some three foot coops, with ease, out of stride. He did not chip, hesitate, tap, or look. He was absolutely foot perfect. At one point, I was riding second on the team and the lead horse stayed on the trail and gapped a coop set just off the trail to the left. I asked Brego to leave the trail, line up, and clear a 3' coop and return to the team all in the space of four strides. He responded without hesitation, leaving the leader and never questioning the fence. Such maturity for a green horse!
We also managed to master forward. And when I say that we have mastered forward, I mean that at mile 10, I asked for a canter and he leapt forward with so much enthusiasm, I had to bridge my reins to bring him back to me and we had to complete the ride at the trot. He was just too fast at the canter.
It was a perfect ride, on a horse loving his job and finally shaking off the boredom of winter. This will be a very fun summer indeed.
As for his feet, I can say that the Super Fast "shoes" were great. They held up reasonably well, with one chip coming out of the front. That was most likely an application error where his foot was not dry enough before applying the adhesive. He felt comfortable in them, obviously unencumbered, and his stride felt normal. I am very impressed with the technology and I will certainly use them again. He did have one or two ouchy steps over very large rocks, but considering how much galloping on gravel and stones we did today, including the usual wear and tear of a fast 12 miles, I could not ask for more. They protected his feet but didn't get in the way. The mud was so deep in spots that boots would have never made it through, they would have been sucked off.
As for the rest of the season, Brego is showing me that he loves to run and jump, so we're going to try to squeeze in the Groton House schooling three phase in June. Still no recognized events for me this year, but I will take him out on course every chance I get. He's coming back faster, stronger, and jumping better than we finished last year, and I consider that somewhat miraculous.