Guess what? Harley is a prize winning trail horse. What does this mean? Well, on Sunday we went in the 13th Annual Turkey Trot pleasure ride/drive at the Horse Park of New Jersey. We were entered in the open division and rode the long course which is about eight miles through Assinpink Wildlife Management Area. The Turkey Trot is a very casual/fun competition and certainly not a competitive trail ride, but there is an undisclosed optimum time and we were only 2 minutes and 49 seconds off the optimum time of 2 hours, 12 minutes and 25 seconds. My team mate and I were awarded third place!
My husband jokes that this means we were the third "most average", but I will take third out of 28 teams any day! This was a repeat performance as team Harley and team Winston (our trail mates) were also third last year, but out of 41 teams. Can you imagine that many competitors in a dressage competition? Well, I cannot, but maybe you can!
Since the optimum time was not disclosed and we were not armed with any kind of GPS or odometer, we could not really try to keep pace, although we guessed that the optimum would be close to two hours like last year. I used common sense and my horse's well-being as my barometer, walking in the wooded areas, trotting along short, open sections of trail, and taking advantage of fields for a nice canter. This is exactly what we did last year, which leads me to believe that whomever determined the optimum time uses the same horse-centered pacing strategy. I think that many riders are more interested in having fun and finishing quickly than trying to hit an optimum. In fact, maybe they are trying to get as far under the optimum as possible! We had fun and made it back to the trailer with plenty of spunk. In the picture above, it looks like Harley is ready for round two!
FYI: I may have been wearing my new helmet camera...