EKF riders loaded up the trailer and explored the central Virginia countryside over the past two weekends. It was exciting to get our horses off the farm to participate in hunter paces, which are competitive trail rides sponsored by local hunt clubs. Last weekend, Henry and I ponied a seven year old student, riding Wizard, at the Commonwealth Foxhounds' event in Caroline County. This was held at a beautiful farm, with lovely sandy footing winding through open fields and hilly woodlands. Both geldings behaved perfectly throughout: negotiating a steep, narrow downhill trail, waiting calmly to let slightly faster teams pass, and ultimately trotting proudly through the finish markers. After we tended to the horses, we enjoyed the club's excellent, complimentary buffet luncheon - with more than enough chicken, salads, and desserts to go around. You can see a happy photo at our homepage.
Yesterday's hunter pace was hosted by Bull Run Hunt in Culpeper County. A teenager rode Chubbs and I took Zender ("Robin" and "Bat Man" as we call them, because they are best buddies) and entered the Junior/Senior Division. We started from a huge equestrian facility with rolling hayfields full of jumps, followed by fantastic trails through a neighboring forest preserve. Zender had a moment at the top of the first hill when he thought the two photographers sitting on an ATV were monsters - but once we got past the monsters, he settled in to lead the way. Reliable Chubbs kept up (he often has to canter to match Zender's trot) as we maintained a forward pace, jumping logs and clearing a couple of inviting coops toward the end. We also exchanged stares with a curious deer, saw some spooky abandoned barns, and appreciated the thorough flagging of the twisting course.
There are additional hunter paces this fall, so hopefully more riders will take the opportunity to have fun and represent EKF to the greater equestrian community!