October 14, 2013

Tryon Hounds Hunter Pace - Ride Story

Sunday dawned dark and gloomy with a few sprinkles of rain. I was worried they would cancel the event, but I checked the website about a dozen times and it all said it was still a go, so we packed up and headed out at 7:15 am. We were smart this time and had hooked up the truck and trailer as well as packing all the tack into the trailer on Saturday afternoon. That meant all we needed to do was grab the horses, brush them out and load them. Our babysitter for the day was meeting us at the barn at 7:45 am and would follow us out.

Getting Ready
We left at 8:05 am which really wasn't too bad for us. The drive took just about an hour and we arrived early enough to grab a great parking spot. The friendliness of the event hit you from the get go. There was a guy at the entrance welcoming everyone, thanking you for coming and pointing you to the parking area. After unloading, W went to hang out with K and the hubs and I went to sign up. It was slated as 9 miles with a 3 minute hold half way. We entered the hunter division, got our team number and went back to tack up and head out.

Checking out the camp

W got a big kiss goodbye and we headed to the start tent. The guy standing guard was awesome! He sent the group ahead of us out and we settled in to wait 3 minutes. Or at least the hubs and I did. Pete tried to rear and Gemmie stood pawing the ground. They were ready to GO! The guy made jokes, asked if I was in the crazy Arabian division, gave a quick description of the trail and counted us down. At the word "go" Pete took off like out of a start gate at the race track. Gem was not far behind and we kept them to a barely controlled trot out of site.

The trail was marvelously well marked. Big white signs with a bold red arrow pointing the way at all turns. It was really difficult to miss a turn unless you were one brown mare who cantered past in a big field. Cough. I don't know who that would be. Good thing the hubs was paying attention! Gem and Pete maintained race brain for most of the 1st mile. Neither could walk and we barely kept them at a trot. I finally forced Gem to stop to focus again right before we overtook the group who had left 3 minutes before us. Our first mile was at 7.1 mph average even with walking and stopping to take pictures. We were flying!

At the end of the first mile was a short, but very steep uphill and we were thankful for it. It really caused the horses the calm down and relax. We wouldn't have been able to maintain that pace for all 9 miles.

The beginning was all single track dense woods

Until we reached this beautiful field and cantered back into the trees

Gravel Road in the woods
All the trails were on private property and had amazing footing. If the Dynamic Duo were in better condition we could have cantered most of it. It varied between single track woods, big open fields, had some wooden bridges, one paved road and two gravel roads. I walk all down hills and really most were so steep you needed to anyway. At the first gravel road we requested a walk. We probably would have been okay trotting, but the rocks were the perfect size to bruise a foot. It was only the 2nd mile and we didn't need any foot issues. The group that left right behind us on large, gorgeous steeds came galloping up on us on the lane but we were already back on single track going uphill. Once at the top, we pulled off to the left to allow room to pass. As they came up the hill the one horse was breathing so hard it was shameful. They made a right hand turn and started away. The hubs yelled out that they were going the wrong way. They were very grateful to not have messed up. Off the group cantered up the next steep hill (poor horses!) as well. Had we known the half way tent was on top of the hill we would have just kept going. But we had only gone 3.5 miles, so I wasn't thinking we were there yet. I guess it was just the most convenient place to put it. The hubs and I have always felt that if you are stopping for a prolonged time, you should get of your horse and give their back a break. We seem to be in the minority on this thought. Once on the ground the crew there offered us a drink. Water. Apple Juice. Port. Huh? Can you say that again? Port. I could smell the alcohol coming off that tray! I opted for apple juice so that I could cross the finish line with Gem. The hubs had water. And Port.

More gravel road riding

 3 minutes later we were back up and headed off. For some reason the Dynamic Duo thought it was time to race again. They were back to being hyped up. Unfortunately, there was a large, open field instead of a hill up ahead. Gem picked up a fast canter (13.5 mph) through the grass and into the trees. More hills and woods to come. At one point there were two wooden bridges then a steep uphill covered in roots. Pete was in the lead and as he got to the bank he tried to jump up, but the hubs knew I was still crossing the bridge and didn't want Gem to flip out so he told Pete no with a half halt. Pete shortened his stride, hit the roots and fell onto his right knee. No damage done, but we decided it was time for a long walk break to get their heads focused again. That mile was at 3.2 mph. 

At some point we came up behind the gorgeous horses again and shouted that we were coming. They cantered off to stay ahead. I think they thought it was an actual race and not just based on time. We hadn't seen a single jump and I made a note of it. Never having done one before, I was not sure what to expect, but the website mentioned jumps and we were excited to try them. None were present in the first 5.5 miles of the trail.

The route followed through the woods and skirted some beautiful farms. We popped out of the woods and onto a paved road and the view was spectacular. The clouds were going away and the sun was shining. The mountains in the background were breathtaking. I asked the hubs how far this was from work. Could we buy there and commute? Probably not. The hubs snapped my all time favorite picture of Gem and I. I think I will print it and frame it. It is beautiful.

I want to frame this one. Perfect! :)

Not sure what mountains, but pretty none the less
Proof that I do lead and Pete hates it

More gorgeousness

 Gemmie actually did lead quite a bit. She was braver than usual and even trotted. Pete hung back and let her until she slammed on the brakes one too many times. Then he plowed ahead with a nasty glare and pulled back ears :)

Lets see. More of the same really for a lot of it. We trotted most of it with some cantering (for Gem, Pete just power trotted away) and some walking the hills. At one point we passed a group of 2 ladies. Then it got a tad annoying for a bit. A woman came galloping up on us on her black and white paint who was plastered in sweat and out of breath. We pulled over to allow them to pass. She did, then immediately walked. Um? Now we were still keeping up our trot pace and seeing us closing in again she commented that her horse was very tired but then kicked him up to a canter and took off. We watched her and she either walked or cantered. I don't think she knew how to trot. Poor horse. We played leap frog in that manner for about a half mile and then she took off completely when we walked some hills. The bad thing was that she would let us get just ahead and then barrel down on us. It made Gem extremely nervous and she never even called out. She would just all of a sudden be up Gem't butt. Surprisingly we passed the gorgeous horse group on a lane. They moved nicely out of our way and we headed on down at our trotting pace.

In mile 7 we came across the paint lady riding with another lady on a chestnut horse. I was in the lead and yelled "coming up behind". Nothing. I yelled again. I looked back and asked the hubs if I was in fact talking out loud. He confirmed that I was audible. We came up to a field and I yelled "we are passing you. give us room now" The chestnut horse lady glared at me, but chose to move over versus get run over. Rude. The paint lady  told us she had a wreck. Her horse fell down and threw her. Probably because he was weak and couldn't breathe. And yet she kept kicking him on to canter. She should have been DQ'd. In endurance, she would have been.

The jumps showed up around mile 5.5 or 6. They were HUGE! Definitely not ones we were ready to tackle that far into the event. It was a shame too. The trail wandered into someone's cross country field and the jumps were really pretty. Gem took one look and her ears went sideways. She made it clear she was not going over any of those.

Back into and out of the woods again and then we were at the finish line :) 9 miles (my GPS said 8.51 but the trees were thick and I wouldn't be surprised if it dropped that much throughout it). In 1 hr 51 mins.

Back at the trailer, W was waiting and we untacked quickly. The horses were sweaty, but still had energy. We took it easy but maintained a decent pace given their conditioning level. An overall 5.0 mph pace when moving and 4.6 mph total (with pictures and time to drink Port included). Not too shabby. Once untacked, I offered them both water and then dumped a bucket full over Gem. She sighed in relief as the cold water washed the sweat off. The hubs, W, K and her husband and I went for lunch and then tired out, we headed home. The horses looked great coming off the trailer back at the barn. I can't wait for the next one!!!

Sweaty and happy to be done

You mean we are done?

I know I had an entire hotdog, baked beans, coleslaw
and a brownie, but are you going to eat that Daddy?

GPS Totals:
1:51:42 total time, 1:42:06 moving time
5.0 mph moving, 4.6 mph total
Elev gain: 623 ft
Elev loss: 671 ft
Max: 13.3 mph 

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful pictures and sounds like it was a grand experience. Glad you both had a good ride. Gem and Pete look great ! I was off by 24 minutes --not a bad guess. A.J.