The Harvard Fox Hounds hunter pace is something I look forward to all year long. Last year, I was stuck working the mobile unit at a hunter/jumper show, but two years ago, Moe and I led our team to victory. I’ve taken Gina to several and always had a good time. I was excited to take Candy this year, especially since a big group of my riding friends had also decided to go. I knew my group wouldn’t be gunning for a win, so I thought this would be a great time to school Candy over some tiny cross-country jumps and have an otherwise leisurely ride. I lent Gina to a friend for the ride, so I was confident Gina could help Candy through any troublesome spots.
Candy and I were not on the same page.
The weather was sub-optimal for riding; it was gray, cold, and misting rain. Candy was quiet enough in the trailer and while being tacked up, but as soon as I got on, she was off to the races. I mean that literally- she jigged and pranced like a three year old on Derby day. I tried my best to stay loose and relaxed in the saddle and spoke to her quietly and patted her neck reassuringly, but Candy was not having it. She spent the next two hours cantering sideways, passaging, and trying to fling herself off the trail. She totally ignored Gina (who was a complete champ with my friend), save for kicking at her once.
My group ended up only doing half the ride for a number of reasons. None of us were dressed appropriately for the weather (because the forecast had been for 55 and sunny), Candy was being a banana, and another friend’s saddle had slipped enough that she’d had to dismount, fix it, and get back on. We were all tired and cold, so cutting the hunter pace short wasn’t a hard decision.
I was so disappointed in my ride on Candy. I’ve never had a horse who was so worried and anxious so often. I don’t really enjoy taking Moe to events like this because, like Candy, he spends a lot of time jigging; however, Moe always seems excited and eager to be out and about, while Candy just seems nervous. I’ve been trying to be patient with her nervousness, because she’s green and doesn’t have a lot of life experience beyond the track and having babies. However, I’m at a little bit of a loss on what to do. I’ve logged 20+ hours of trail riding with her this year (I’ve been tracking it for the Thoroughbred Incentive Program), I’ve had her checked out by my vet for physical problems, my saddles fit her well, she has plenty of turnout, she lives with other horses, and I ride her regularly. I imagine the answer is “suck it up and put more miles on the horse”- it’s just not very fun sometimes!