30 Day Blogging Challenge: Day 5- Your Show Team

Day 5- Your Show Team


My show team here in Oklahoma is composed of good friends and a decidedly unhorsey boyfriend.

There’s Anne, my amazing trainer (who’s also my friend). She helps me stay cool and calm, helps me warm up, and lets me know when it’s time to beat the pony.

Anne and the famous Atut.

Arguably the most important member of the team is my pal Levi (of hunter pace fame). Levi is my go-to guy when my horses and I need a ride somewhere. While I have a three-horse trailer, I don’t have a truck to pull it. So Levi graciously chauffeurs us around, whether it’s to the lake for a trail ride or halfway across the country.

Levi (right) and me (left) training for the hunter pace last spring.

The third and final member of the Hand Gallop show team? Johnny, my boyfriend of nearly four years. Johnny is not a horse person. Before meeting me, he hadn’t been on or around a horse since he fell off one at Boy Scout camp at age eight. These days, Johnny is comfortable enough around horses to groom them, lead them, and sort of tack them up. He even volunteers at the therapeutic riding center where I work! But he still doesn’t have fun at local dressage shows when I tell him stuff like “Can you hold Gina? Don’t tie her up, she’s going through a ‘not tying’ phase right now.”

Johnny likes cities. (We vacationed in Detriot once!)

Spring Hunter Pace Recap

On May 19, Gina and I competed in Harvard Fox Hounds’ spring hunter pace. Sadly, our original plan to have Levi and Bubba and Kyla and Cal on our team was foiled by Cal’s persistent abscess. It ended up being just Levi and Bubba  with Gina and me.

Gina was a total champ through the day; she loaded easily, stood quietly while being groomed and tacked, and was just anxious and excited enough before we took off to make me feel confident.

Levi and Bubba were beautifully put together, what with Levi’s pearl-snap shirt, fancy belt, and finely detailed Western saddle. Bubba had finally shed the last of his grubby winter coat and revealed a stunning gold palomino coloring that was both impressive and unexpected. Bubba was restless and alert- I think he wondered where the cattle were.

When we took off, both of the horses galloped easily and confidently over the trail. They were eager to be off and going instead of standing around. Levi pointed Bubba at a small log jump- Bubba swerved, then decided to take it at the last possible second. Levi nearly fell off, but stayed on through a combination of sheer determination and the horn on his saddle. Gina took the log without a problem.

We galloped for long periods of time- both of the horses were feeling good. We only slowed when we found the twisting, rocky trails that led up the steep hills that comprised the latter half of the course. Bubba took off like a shot any time Levi gave him a loose rein; Gina followed suit in a rhythmic, steady gallop; she felt as if she could go all day.

Along the way Levi and I debated the merits of riding English; I touted the virtues of the lightweight saddle. Levi expressed his disdain for the silly garb required at foxhunts and the like.

When the end of the pace was near, we urged our horses into a victorious flat-out run and crossed the finish line with a time of 1:39:12, ten minutes faster than our nearest competitor. While we were most definitely the fastest time, we finished dead last in a field of fifteen.

Happily, our horses finished sound and cooled out easily. Levi and I had a fun time in beautiful countryside, and our entry fees went to the HFH kennel fund. Levi has it all figured out for the fall- our team is definitely winning first place!

Trail Ride Extravaganza!

It’s exactly 20 days until the glorious 19th of May- also known as Spring Hunter Pace Day! Kyla and I have been working Cal and Gina regularly to get them fit for the ride. Our third team member, Levi, tells us he’s been working his horse Bubba, too. We’re all pretty excited- after all, Kyla and I have our third-place finish to defend!

Levi’s trailering us to the event, but wasn’t sure if all three horses would fit into his stock trailer. He assured me that it fits six calves, but since we weren’t sure what the ratio of calves to horses is, we decided to load everyone up and take them on the trails at the local lake. 
Kyla and I hit the trails a few weeks ago with our friend Will and his horse Misty. The horses were good then, so we were really looking forward getting out again. The horses loaded up in Levi’s trailer without too much fuss and fit totally fine. Once we arrived at the lake, we tacked up our guys and got ready to set off. 
Gina was totally fine until we set off toward the trail. She immediately zoomed backwards at maximum speed, shaking her head and flailing around. I jumped off, removed her flash noseband, and got back on. She was quieter. We headed down the trail, with Cal and Bubba in front of us. About 100 feet into the narrow, slippery trail, a plastic bag lay. Gina was not having the plastic bag. She reared. I clung to her neck. She spun. I ducked to avoid tree branches. She galloped out of the dense wooded trail and back into the parking area. I stopped her. After that, we decided to take an alternate, slightly wider and less tree-filled route. 
Kyla and baby Cal
Gina calmed down after that and we ended up having a great ride. We let the horses gallop on a long, flat stretch. Bubba, who’s a sturdy little Quarter Horse used for ranch work, smoked both Cal and Gina (two race-bred TBs!). We’re planning a rematch, though, since Cal wasn’t feeling his best and was recovering from an abscess. 
Me (left) and Levi (right) after galloping.
We spent about 2.5 hours riding and traveled about 8 miles. We wove through forests, across streams, over rocks, and ended up right on top of the lake. I suggested we swim across the lake to make for home, but somehow, no one was with me on that suggestion. It would have ruined my tack anyway…
This was the least-dense area we rode through. The lake is beyond the trees.

The horses were tired and soaked with sweat when we got back to the trailer, and we (and our tack) were covered in mud, sweat, and bug bites. No pain, no gain, though, right? We’re definitely ready to smoke the competition at the hunter pace!