In my quest to do 'All The Things', I signed Boca and I up for a hunter pace last Sunday. It was hosted by our local hunt club, and it lauded spectacular views, ridden on land only open to riders 1 time per year.
Boca and I went on a hunter pace last year, a different one held at a local farm, and it was pretty much the highlight of our year. So I was very excited to go try out a new venue.
|World's Best Pony|
The week leading into the hunter pace did not bode well for me. Usually, I manage to strike a pretty good life balance between work, riding, husband, dog, family and friends. The areas that I usually fail hardest in are cooking (what is wrong with living on microwave popcorn and peanut butter?) and my share of dog-duty. My husband works less hours than me a week, so he usually picks up a lot of the slack, household-wise. He's a pretty good sport about it, but occasionally it wears a little thin on him.
Last week, I completely over-committed myself, and it was my undoing. I wedged a night with my best friends from high school, as well dinner plans with my mom and cousin into the mix. Add a dollop of PMS, and I was not on my A game. Probably not on my B game either.
By Saturday, the day before the hunter pace, I was exhausted. It was all I could do to get the trailer packed for Sunday morning.
The hunter pace offered First and Second flight, listed as 8-10 miles over 20 or more fences and stone walls, not to exceed 3' 6" in height. For the first time, the hunter pace offered a third division, called Third Flight, listed as a shortened course of 5 miles.
Originally, my plan was to ride the shortened course of 5 miles. The issue was that, of the riders going from my barn, the ones doing the Third Flight were doing walk/trot only. I definitely didn't want to miss out on cantering and jumping, so I arranged to go with the only other rider from my barn that was doing Second flight. I figured it would be ok, as Boca and I are probably the fittest we've ever been. Boy was I wrong.
I have to say, the first few miles were glorious. There ended up being 3 of us on the team. We had some really nice canters through open fields, and a few nice jumping efforts.
At that point, Boca and I were really pleased. And ready to go home. That is when my fellow riders informed me that we were not at the halfway point yet, and what started as a nice ride turned into what felt like a death-march from hell.
This is probably a good point to mention that I didn't eat -- not anything -- before the hunter pace. I had gone out to dinner the night before and still felt pretty full, so I reasoned that a cup of coffee was a sufficient breakfast for 8-10 miles of riding and jumping. Sometimes my own stupidity and bad choices take my breath away.
Shortly thereafter, Boca and I started fading. We went from leading the group to the back of the group. Our power walk became a shuffle. My knees started to ache. I feel like we looked something like this:
I briefly considered trying to make my way back to the trailers on my own, but quickly abandoned the idea. The other riders on the team, J and T, didn't seem too bothered by the duration of the ride. I felt like a negative Nancy, but in my head I really was worried about over-doing it and making Boca back-sore or crabby. In reality, he was probably fine and the only sore, crabby one was me.
We passed through a number of loops, through fields and grounds I swear we had seen before. At this point, it felt like my knees were on fire, and I was sure that when I ever did eventually get down from the saddle, my knees would buckle and I would crumple to the ground.
I was also pretty sure I was the lamest person ever and J was internally cursing that she allowed me to be on her team, and would avoid me like the plague ever after. Jury's still out on that one.
We eventually made our way back to the trailer. I swear I have never, ever been as happy to jump down from the saddle. My knees did not give out, and I was spared the embarrassment of landing on my ass in front of everyone.
I will, however, share a horribly embarrassing story that I am greatly ashamed of.
It is no secret that I make a lot of dumb mistakes, that I get away with because my horse is a saint. Most of those mistakes are unintentional, and are made because, although I have years of experience in the horse world in general, I am in fact a newbie to horse ownership. Also, I am occasionally incredibly stupid.
So, I have gotten in the habit of occasionally tieing Boca to the trailer with the chain over his nose. I KNOW. I KNOW THIS VIOLATES EVERY RULE OF HORSEMANSHIP 101.
But, I have justified it to myself because 1) He never pulls back, ever and 2) I only use the chain because he drags me around like a giant human kite in search of grass and 3) isn't a rope halter pretty much the same thing, and people tie horses all the time with those on, right?
Well, you don't have to tell me that the Rules of Horsemanship 101 exist for a reason, and that I am a HORRIBLE HORSE OWNER because, at the end of the hunter pace, I tied Boca (chain over nose) while I was attempting to rip tack off of him at warp speed. At some point in the process, he started pawing, because he was starving and wanted to reach the grass. At that point, on the verge of delirium myself, from a combo of exhaustion, hunger and PMS, I reached down to swat him for pawing, and he exploded backwards like was I the devil himself. And proceeded to hit the chain over his nose and panic.
Because I am the luckiest person ever, nothing bad happened. The leadshank didn't break, Boca quickly stopped panicking, I was able to reach up and un-clip his lead rope and clip it to a more appropriate place under his chin. And my Barn Owner proceeded to yell and me and berate me in front of our group, but I truly was embarrassed enough already, and felt awful for my poor saint of a horse.
|Sainthood. This creature is deserving of sainthood.|
Thus ended my never-ending day of hunter pacing. I proceeded to go home and have a fight with my husband when he innocently asked me what I was cooking for dinner, after having been gone from the house for 12 hours straight while he was on the couch watching football. Which he didn't deserve because I had *told* him I would cook for him after a long day of hunter pacing.
Thus ended a week of bad choices all around.
It was most definitely, Not What I Signed Up For.