All week I was super excited about the upcoming paper chase. It really is a treat to be able to ride across the gorgeous land up near Unionville, Pa. I had only been to one chase up in this area and that was back when I had Dixie. He was awesome and we had great fun that day so I eager to do it again.
I think Kurt was a little bit nervous. He had never been on a ride like this and didn’t know what to expect. He finds a lot of courage just because he trust his horse (actually my horse :)) so much. He knows Junior will take care of him and that right there is what makes it fun.
For those of you who haven’t been to a chase like this it can be quite a challenge for horse for one main reason. The views!
You get your horses off the trailer and they just stare at all the horses going up and down the hills. It can be quite nerve-wracking for them so that is always the biggest challenge. Letterman was nervous but doing nothing more than walking a lot of circles.
I really don’t at all get after them for this because forward is an okay answer to nerves. Keeping their feet moving is what you want so they don’t ball it up inside and then panic more. It was a very calm walk so not like he was frantic or anything just concerned. There was a loud-speaker so I am sure he was thinking races??
Kurt and I got on and headed up to the start area. We had to wait for about 5 min and the horses were anxious so we kept them on the move. Again, very important to channel the energy in a forward manner. I just sat quietly and let him walk/trot and he was really focused. I gave him a little job of some circles and bending exercises to keep his attention. He would look around at all the horses but he was so good!!!
We started out and let them get a good trot going to work off the nervous energy. I find it always helps to let them work it off rather than holding them. Junior was more keyed up and was cantering and snorting….his normal! We jumped a few little logs which were fun and went up a big hill. Hills = best way ever to let a horse work and tire itself without you having to do anything.
We got to the woods and encountered our first obstacle. I could hear a lot of rushing water and when we saw the water crossing Kurt and I sort of went oh lord this is tough. It was a narrow path to the water, super fast rushing water and a very deep crossing. Junior was convinced he didn’t have to go and did quite a bit of backwards running. Letterman just stood there but wasn’t sure what the question was being asked. Junior finally manned up and when he got in the water he got a bit scared because it was so deep and rushing.
I asked Kurt to wait which sure didn’t help Junior but he’s experienced and I wanted to have him give Letterman a lead and not get to far way from me. Letterman bravely walked right in!!!!!!!!!!!!! Superstar. I know he was scared but he trusted me which is huge.
This picture is after we went across
You can see the rushing water but you can’t see how deep it was or the rocky footing. It also had a narrow downhill path leading into the water so it was a tough approach.
Wow, Kurt and I thought that it was so cool to be able to do something like that. As we rode along we kept remarking how people must be seriously hard-core to hunt first flight up here. The jumps were good size and often on difficult approaches in trappy footing. We jumped a few of the smaller things but the footing was mucky so we were careful.
Another water crossing
We trotted and cantered along and the horses were amazing. Junior is very schooled but Letterman in some ways is less spooky and a bit quieter. He just goes along with a loop in the rein happy to lead or follow. We switch back and forth so he can gain experience riding in the front and the back.
We came to this gorgeous covered bridge
Junior was being a wuss and was balking and Letterman walked right past him and up into the scary covered bridge. What a brave horse!
I think we could have easily ridden for hours just enjoying the view but it was a short ride. Here is the view at the end looking back at the trailers.
We walked down a bit and stopped to take a few final pictures.
Kurt wanted to canter back in and because it was slightly downhill and headed toward the trailers the horses got a bit of a roll on and Letterman decided it should be a gallop. He was listening to me but enjoying himself so I let him but then eased him up toward the finish.
It was a great day and Letterman far exceeded my expectations. He’s a seriously nice horse. I honestly can tell you there is nothing better than riding an ottb who is athletic and brave across this beautiful territory. We hope to get out for a few more of the chases in this area.