Today was one of those perfect early summer days. Low 70s, no humidity, a nice breeze and bright sunshine.
Zelda and I set off this morning with Charlie and Marianne, meeting our friend Meta and her cute pony Ruby to ride in a hunter pace.
After so many hunting disappointments — work conflicts, rain — the weather gods were smiling today.
This was Zelda’s first real pace event. I’ve taken her out on a few hunt rides and hunted her once this season, but I’m still working to give her more mileage.
This was an ideal situation because she had to lead, follow, cross water and let other horses pass us. When I first started riding her, she refused to lead. Sure, she’d be okay for awhile, but then she’d slam on the brakes and refuse to move. If you asked a bit too hard, she’d buck!
Today, she strode out happily and confidently. No balking, no bucking and no attitude. Zel has figured out that exploring is fun and she wants to be part of it. The only small problem with her is that she’s got such a big stride that if we’re walking, she outpaces her companions. I don’t like to restrict her too much, I like to let her walk on a loose rein and leave her mouth alone.
She followed well, too. When she was behind Charlie or Ruby she was polite and kept her distance.
Water crossings were a bit trickier. Zelda and I have had a few “discussions” about crossing water in the past. When we came to the first stream, Ruby went right across. Zelda slowed way down and I could feel her confusion. Then she
bunched up her muscles and flew over the stream. We cleared that stream by a couple of feet and was oh-so-glad that I had a good hold of the neck strap. It’s funny because she has no problem with large puddles, it’s the stream crossings that get her. However by the end of the ride she was happily splashing through them, too tired to expend the extra energy to launch herself.
Getting passed by other teams was an education. We were only passed once and moved over to the side of a field to let the other team move on faster. Zelda was prepared to dump her little team in a heartbeat. She started to spin and wanted to bolt. When I said “no”, she reluctantly stayed with me and we continued on without incident.
Somewhere along the route we must have made a wrong turn. I’m not sure how we managed it, since we never missed a plate. Maybe we did an extra circle along the way. We had a friend who started after our team and finished ahead of us, but never passed us. The pace was supposed to be 12 miles. My GPS said 16.3 miles, but it also added an odd spike to the map that we didn’t ride. It took us about 2 hours and 15 minutes and while it was longer than I’d anticipated, we enjoyed every minute of it.
It was the longest ride I’ve ever taken Zelda on. She was perky and forward right up until the end although I could tell she was getting tired. When I got her
home, it was a different story. She was so tired that she wasn’t even interested in her dinner! The photo that I got from my barn mate who fed shows a horse that can barely keep her nose off the ground. I was a little worried about her, but when I checked on her after dinner, she had rallied.
But I think she’ll get tomorrow off.