Posted by: Realist | September 28, 2008

Judged Pleasure Ride

Today was our first ever judged pleasure ride, the Manassas Battlefield (Virginia) fall JPR.  Over 100 riders participated.

It was a blast!  Better than a simple trail ride, and without all the hassle of a formal competition.  There were 10 total obstacles and about 8-10 miles of trail.  It took us 4 hours total.  Lots of very friendly people.  We hooked up with a lone rider and the 3 of us had a great time together.

It also poured rain for about a half hour at the beginning of our ride, which was annoying, since we were wet the rest of the ride.  Luckily I had a raincoat and was able to keep my video camera and cell phone dry, but barely.

Montana both did both better and worse than I expected.  On some of the obstacles, he even did better than Cedar!  But during the trail ride portion, he had multiple spooks.  One time he even went up in a full rear due to a horse fly, and fortunately I did not come off.  He also had a mini freakout after the ride in the trailer when Cedar wasn’t there, and cut his head on the ceiling and somehow cut his hind foot (probably stepped on it).  He was leaning back on the butt bar hard in the Brenderup, causing the entire divider to bounce up and down.  Elizabeth said she saw the entire trailer shaking from the outside.  He also reared when tied to the side of the trailer and Elizabeth took Cedar to the other side, out of sight.

The strange thing is that one time on the ride, when nature called, I took Montana away from Cedar.  He was a gem and gave me no problems at all.  But when Cedar leaves him, boy, look out.  I can’t say I fully understand why this is the case, but I’ve heard about the same behavior with other horses, so it must be a common issue.

I definitely need to work out equipment issues.  I typically go on rather short trail rides (1 hour) in sunny weather, so I don’t have to worry about rain gear, video equipment, food, water, jackets, etc.  At the last minute I decided to bring the video camera slung around my neck.  That didn’t work out so well with it bouncing around everywhere, plus it almost got wet in the downpour.  My water bottles slipped out of my fanny pack and fell on the ground as well.  My jacket does not zip around the fanny pack.  In general, I think I need saddle pads and waterproof cases for any electronic equipment, including cell phone.  I mean, it really poured and everything got wet.  I think waterproof pants would have been nice as well.  My nice think soft endurance reins got sopping wet from the rain and very heavy.

Same issue with Montana’s fly mask.  When it started raining, his mask did more harm to his vision than good, since there weren’t any flies.  I didn’t have a good method of storing it, so I ended up tying it around his neck.  Before I did that, I tried to hold it in my lap, and I ended up losing it.  Fortunately, a rider behind me picked it up.

Finally, I really need some sort of waterproof chest harness where I can place things like a map.  It was a royal pain trying to access a folded up map in my front jeans pocket, especially with gloves on.  The map ended up getting wet and destroyed in my pockets.  Luckily the trails were well marked.  But if I needed that map, I would have been in trouble.

The obstacles were interesting, and I think with some practice, very doable.  There was no obstacle that was insanely difficult.  That doesn’t mean, of course, that we didn’t have trouble.  We had lots of trouble.  Side passing while straddling a log over to a clanging bell?  Nope, Montana would have nothing to do with that one, since he was scared of the bell.  Going backwards in a tight area for a full 180 degree turn?  Nope, failed that one also.  Stepping onto a piece of carpet?  We got halfway there.  On the other hand, he had no trouble standing still as a pile of paint cans were dragged in front of him.  He also had no trouble going right up to various buckets and other containers where I needed to reach in and grab something.

I also had a lot of trouble with being out of shape.  Once I had to mount up from the ground, and was surprised that the movement put me out of breath for the next 10 minutes, and I never quite recovered after that.  After that I was in a daze for the rest of the ride.  Am I just out of shape?  Is it the Lyme disease?  Or, the last time I was in the saddle for several hours I also got the same light-headed feeling, like I was going to pass out.  I think that somehow sitting so long in the saddle causes the blood circulation to stop, and doing something physically (even mildly) exerting somehow exacerbates the situation.  I drank plenty of water, though I admit I didn’t have much to eat since we were late leaving in the morning.  I also noticed I felt better if I got off the horse and walked around.

My butt also hurt around hour 3.  I think I’m going to bring the Cashel gel saddle pad next time.  No need to be uncomfortable.

All in all, it was fun, and I definitely think we’ll be up for more judged pleasure rides.  Moreover, it got Montana out and about, and he really needs more exposure to things to grow up and be a man.

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