Just to add sweet icing on the already delicious cake that was the Hunter Pace we took 4th place!!! That means I get a shiny ribbon :) Why is this such a big deal? I only have one other ribbon from my time with Gemmie. My awesome blue ribbon from the RnT we did with the hubs. Ribbons are awesome. I don't know how I actually physically get my ribbon. They have my name, but no address or phone number. I am getting the hubs to call the RM (ride manager) and ask. I know that's pretty low, but I REALLY want my ribbon.
The optimal ride time was 1:55:13, so we actually went a little fast. Which is a relief. When I was talking to people about it and reading online the Hunter division was made out to be this super speedy event. I was worried they wanted you to canter/gallop the entire thing. I think my point of view is a little skewed coming from the endurance world. The overall pacing is actually pretty similar. We went a few minutes too fast which is only 1 additional walk break.
That's one reason I love this so much. You can't really go out there planning on winning and it isn't a race against other people. Since there is a staggered start and two divisions, you have no clue who you are passing or if it means you are going to lose by being too fast. You just go out there and ride your ride. I'm sure over time you get a better sense of what the timing is like. If the trails are the same year after year, then the optimum time is probably pretty close to being the same. You get an advantage by knowing that. But it seems like the trails change from year to year even though the venue does not. This keeps it lively. I would bet that certain hosts tend to go faster or slower too. Maybe we picked the best starting venue to go to that likes a similar pace to us. Maybe our next one in November will be with a faster or slower group. You just don't know.
It adds a sense of flavor that endurance lacks. With endurance, everyone starts together and you have a set time in which to finish. Everyone is out there fighting their own battles (tack, rider fitness, horse fitness, nutrition etc..) but the fact is that the front runners win. If you happen to have a horse that goes fast and have the time to condition to go fast over 50 miles, you will win. When looking at the standings time and again, the same names show up in the top 10 over and over and over again. If you are a super competitive person, this could be a significant draw back to the sport. In the Hunter Pace, however, each event is unknown. You could go out there on any given day and win. Just ride your ride and see what happens.
I can't wait until the November ride. I really wish we could go to the Halloween ride, but it doesn't look good. I think we may be able to do it if Gem and I go alone and the hubs comes along for support and to watch W. That way it is only $40 instead of $80 and we won't have the babysitter fee on top of it. It could be a great way to test out Gemmie's bravery. Hmmmm.....should I?