And We Had a Great Time!
What can I say? The weather was absolutely beautiful to start off. We met the barn around 7AM and were on our way by a bit after 8.
The drive up to Tewksbury was a bit over an hour, so we arrived somewhat after 9AM. We signed in to get number 13 on our pinny. Not to worry. It was good luck for us.
Christine had a little trouble loading Nordisk on the trailer to leave so more about that later.
The best part was the ride itself. According to the organizers, it was 8-9 miles long. We had decided not to try to be competitive as Nordisk had never been away from home before and he's only been under saddle for four months. Both JJ and Juan--Christina's husband's horse--are seasoned endurance horses, so it was an ideal team for a youngster's first outing.
The trails were gorgeous!! Beautiful scenery, excellent footing and truly varied terrain. We had woodland paths, open fields, streams, hills, road crossings, backyards, and just about everything you could imagine.
Nordisk was a little nervous at first, but Christina rode him really well and after a few other faster teams passed us, we all began to gain confidence that he would be just fine. We walked for the first half of the ride, just taking it all in and enjoying ourselves.
After the mandatory water stop for the riders, we got a bit bolder and started some trotting sessions. By then Nordisk was nicely settled. JJ was an angel and let me pace him to keep Nordisk close to us at all times as we moved out on some of the really wonderful paths along the edges of the fields. There were a number of nice small hunt jumps out there and I had to admit I felt a twinge of nostalgia for the old days when I hunter paced Russell, PJ and even Toby. Those fences looked really inviting, but it was not the day to lark over any of them.
JJ's endurance experience was proven time and time again as the terrain got challenging, or there were potentially spooky things along the trail. What a super horse he is to ride. My Ansur dressage saddle seems to suit him perfectly and I must admit it certainly was comfortable to ride in.
All told, we were out for nearly three hours. We found out after crossing the finish line that it was actually a "trail pace," not a "hunter pace." I am positive we were still too slow, but I have a feeling a lot of the riders who galloped past us will have come in well under time. I will be interested to see what the ideal time was. I suspect the way we rode the second half, with all the trotting, would have been a good time.
JJ was cool and relaxed the whole ride and came in with a good heart rate and minimal sweating. He was evenly sweated under the saddle and not lathered up at all. He's certainly fitter than I am!!
We hung out for a while to let everyone recuperate and then decided to load up to head for home.
Nordisk would have none of it. He balked over and over about getting into the trailer. Christine worked hard to get him in, but did not lose her temper. Larry tried to load him, I tried to load him...no luck. I'd guess we spent well over an hour trying to get him in. Then, we put a rump rope on him with Larry at one end and me at the other, and he finally decided to get on.
Whew! Christina has her work cut out for the next couple weeks practicing loading, that's for sure. It's currently a hole in Nordisk's training, but she's done such a good job with everything else, I'm certain she'll fix it in short order. He's a really good boy, so I don't think it will be much of a problem in the long run.
The other training step to face is actually cantering Nordisk under saddle. He offered a few strides of canter today, but Christina stopped him as she has never tried it and it's still a little scary for her. I fully understand and plan on riding a bit with her to help her take the next step. Nordisk is very naturally balanced, so I don't think it's going to be a problem either. We'll just take it as it comes.
After we got back home and settled the horses in with their dinner, we went to a nearby restaurant and had a nice dinner ourselves.
I got home just over an hour ago to feed my boys and now, to blog!
I had an absolutely wonderful day, on a wonderful horse, on some wonderful trails, with some wonderful friends.
How much better could the day be?