Thursday, November 8, 2012

Eastern Regional Trail Ride

A road sign blown over by Super Storm Sandy on Route 20 in Massachusetts.

Hurry up and wait, Tim drinking coffee while we waited for our ride time.

Tim riding Scout with Secret and I close behind, she likes following a brave horse.

My brother Tim and I went to the 13th Annual Eastern Regional Competitive Trail Ride at the North Brookfield Sportsmen's Club in North Brookfield, Massachusetts on Sunday. I've had good intentions about attending this ride for the last three years, without ever making it up there, so it seemed like a major accomplishment just to pull in the driveway of the club.

Tim rode his Paint gelding Scout, and I brought Secret. Since she has only done one judged pleasure ride before (her very spastic performance at Tyrone Farm in September) and Scout had never done one, we entered them both in the Novice Horse division of the 8-mile ride. A 17-mile ride was also offered.

Over one hundred horses were entered in the various divisions. When we got there, the parking lot was already packed, and more horse trailers arrived after us. Trailers were so close, and luckily our ride time was later, that we waited for the horses on either side of our trailer to ride out before we unloaded our horses.

Because it was a judged pleasure ride, there was a bit of a backup every time you got to one of the four obstacles. Scout stood patiently and waited in line. Secret was not so patient. I kept her moving as best I could, given the nature of the lines at each obstacle and she practiced being patient. We have more work to do on that over the winter, but I'm not too worried about it. This isn't the type of ride I would normally enter, but I think the conditioning miles, the "event" atmosphere and the other horses are all really good experience for her.

Sometime after the second obstacle we were passed by another horse and rider that do CTRs and endurance rides. I recognized her from NEATO rides and she said as she trotted by that her horse hated following other horses and liked to be in the lead. She got just far enough in front of us and then slowed down so she was always in our line of view. What surprised me most about this incident was the Secret lost it. I didn't think she was competitive, based on the other rides I had taken her on when she just followed the group of horses. She's not brave on the trails, so I pegged her for a follower, the horse I could ride around "on the buckle" and follow the tail in front of me. Secret got really strong and tried to chase down and pass the Paint that had passed us. She would try sneaking up along Scout (whom she was perfectly happy to follow) and Tim would slide Scout over and cut her off, but she was unperturbed, she kept pushing through, trying to pass the unknown horse.

I had a feeling it was going to turn into a miserable ride. The thought crossed my mind that if I had wanted to ride a hot horse that was game for a race, I would have brought John! Who knew Secret would be so competitive, but she is my horse and an alpha mare, so I guess I should have known.

Fortunately, we came upon the third obstacle soon after we got passed. Secret was not happy about waiting in line, but the obstacle took long enough that the other rider and her horse ended up out of our line of vision by the time Tim and I both finished the obstacle. We returned to a pleasure ride and I got to ride along on the buckle (for the most part) for the remainder of the ride.

Tim isn't always game to go riding. I was kind of surprised he agreed to go - except the ride was on a Sunday and he couldn't go hunting. This ride was on a lot of dirt roads and woods trails so we ended up talking for hours and playing games. We had a lot of fun.

At the conclusion of the ride, the Sportsmen's club puts on a huge dinner and then awards are presented. It took awhile for them to tally points, but I had a feeling Tim and Scout had done well, so we waited around for awards. Tim won the Novice Horse division (after completing all of the obstacles pretty well). Secret surprised me by placing 6th. I didn't push her at all, because with her, its better that she has a positive experience and builds on it the next time. She didn't do the gate, didn't move the trail marker, skipped the raincoat altogether, and leaped forward when she realized I was dragging the Christmas tree behind us. She did walk over the logs, cross the bridge with the target animals surrounding it, back up, get the mail, and cross the water, so there was some positive parts to her day.

Larry Underwood and his volunteer crew do a great job, and I'm looking forward to attending the ride again next year.

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