Sunday, December 14, 2014

A comedy of errors: HFH fall hunter pace '14

Saturday was the date of one of my favorite events all year: the Harvard Fox Hounds hunter pace. If you're unfamiliar with hunter paces, they're low-key competitive trail rides which are ridden in teams of two to four (or five, if you're us) over varied terrain. Before the event, the hosting organization sends out a team of riders over the course to get the ideal time, which remains a mystery to competitors During the event, teams ride the course at what they feel is an appropriate pace; the team closest to the ideal time without being under wins.

HFH holds two hunter paces a year, one in May and one in November. (This year's fall event was rescheduled thanks to some rain in November.) They're held at the absolutely gorgeous Flint Creek Farm in far eastern Oklahoma- it's about a 90 minute drive for us. That's also where HFH does most of their hunting. It's a great place to ride for many reasons, but my favorite part is how much the terrain reminds me of my beloved Tennessee: it's hilly, rocky, and in some parts, densely forested.

There are a lot of cross country jumps to school. With Gina's new-found (re-found?) jumping confidence, I was eager to go! 

From L to R: Robin & Woody, Richal & Ash, Audrey & Woody, Cara & Gunner, me & Gina.
Yes, we matched. There's usually a best dressed award! 
Overall, the day went pretty well. There were some highlights:
  • Gina jumped everything I pointed her at, including large coops, logs of all sizes, and a coffin. A couple of things got a refusal on the first approach, but there was no real nastiness.
  • Gunner, an OTTB out on his very first cross country excursion, was very good for his teenage rider. 
  • There was beer at the potluck. 
...And more than a few mishaps:
  • Robin had a flat on the way to the event- we stopped to help her (as did a local eventing barn), so we had about 15 minutes to get dressed and tacked up.
  • Ash attempted to buck Richal off within 10 minutes of being on course. (Fun side note for any racing fans out there: Ash is short for Ashkal Way, winner of a variety of stakes races and owned by ESPN racing reporter Jeannine Edwards.)
  • Woody DID buck Audrey off immediately after clearing a post-and-rail fence. She was fine, and got back on to complete the hunter pace.
  • Robin's Woody laid down with her on him in one of the creeks.
  • Cara's Easy Boots broke. (Both of them.)
  • About 100 yards from the finish line, Gina slipped and fell while galloping. I pitched off, she landed on me only minimally, and we are totally fine. My right leg and side are sore, Gina is a little sore, and I definitely need a new helmet, but it could have been way worse!
Despite our slightly scary fall at the end of the day, I was really happy with how Gina went. I'm super excited to get her out and about next year!

Richal was too busy trying to keep Ash calm to get many pictures!
Gina refused this coop once, then hopped over it. The approach was a VERY steep, short hill with about one stride between
the hill's end and the coop. Super fun!

13 comments:

No Hour Wasted said...

You were prophetic when you said Gina was gonna win Rolex starter division. Boy she's on a roll! So happy for you!!

Stephanie said...

I'm super happy with her, and mostly glad I didn't sell her!

SheMovedtoTexas said...

Whoa that coop is intimidating coming up the hill!

Carly said...

At least not all of you fell off? Sounds like a good time despite the problems!

Stephanie said...

I thought it was SUPER fun! I'd been dying to try it since the first pace I went to, but this is the first time I've actually trusted Gina to get over it.

Stephanie said...

That's how I'm looking at it: less than half of the team fell off! I had a blast.

agifthorse said...

Eeeek about that fall, so glad you are both okay! Other than that it sounds like a great time.

hkruse said...

More about the incredible, Grade 1 winning, Ashkal Way! http://www.godolphin.com/horses/horse/605287/ashkal-way-ire

Stephanie said...

It was definitely a good time, minus the falling.

Stephanie said...

More about the incredible bucking, prancing, obsessed with Gina Ashkal Way! :P

L.Williams said...

You can barely see her face behind that coop!

Tracy Beavers said...

I would never have had the guts to jump that coop!

emma said...

sounds like an awesome outing - minus some unplanned dismounts... glad everyone is well and that it was more or less a positive experience. that coop at the end looks intimidating - but at least jumps look smaller from an uphill approach!

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