Tuesday, November 22, 2011

We Are Turkey Trotters

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!
Go Harley!

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...


  1. That looks like SO MUCH fun!! I wish they had a ride like that around here -- I'd go in a heartbeat. Don't you love having a versatile horse?! His face is so cute at the end of your video.

  2. Congrats! I would have gone, too, but I could not find a ride OR a partner.

    Looks like you guys had fun!

  3. Congrats! Looks like fun!

  4. Woo hoo, Val! Good for you and Harley. You took excellent care of your pony and did the perfect job.

    When I first started endurance racing, it was quite common to have 100 - 200 horses attending events. Over the years the numbers have fallen way off. Gas and entry fees can get expensive in these leaner times. Standing at the start line with 100 horses can be quite an experience!

    Distance riding is of course my first language! :0) Although there is a MAXIMUM time, Endurance races have no minimum time. BUT, there is an "understood" optimum time. Endurance riders know that if you're just out there to finish and have a good time, meaning you're not there to win the thing, then riding a 5 mph pace will get the job done. After enough conditioning miles, most decent riders soon develop a feel for what their mph actually is.

    NATRAC/Competitive trail rides are more about horsemanship than fast, so they use an optimum time strategy. There are many new endurance riders who first started as competitive trail riders because that discipline teaches you how to manage your time on the trail.

    You employed very classic strategies in your time management: cover ground quickly when it is safe, slow down on the trickier sections, and keep an eye on your horse. Endurance riders rarely waste good footing or level ground. Moving out on good sections of the trail gives you time to slow down when the footing is rocky or particularly steep. (SUPER simplified endurance discussion!)

    I bet Harley, and you, too!, thoroughly enjoyed the adventure. Getting out of the arena can rejuvenate our energy!


  5. That looked like tons of fun - the helmet cam came in handy:) Happy Thanksgiving to you, Harley and your horse husband!

  6. That looks so so so fun and I love your helmet camera! Such a gorgeous boy you have.

  7. Nice work, congratulations!

    I did a couple 25 mile competitive trail rides when I was younger, I think we had 4.5 hours to complete the 25 miles. We used to trot and trot and trot some more! My dressage trainer has commented before on how well I post- well yeah, I used to be able to post for miles at a time!

  8. Great equestrian blog! Why not come along and post this blog at hay-net.co.uk? This is the UK's No1 Equine Social Blogging Network so come and meet other equestrian bloggers from all over the world!

  9. Annette- Yes I do! Apparently there are lots of 5K human runs in November called a "Turkey Trot". There was a very fun, laid back atmosphere.

    Now That's A Trot- I wondered if you might be there! It is tough to find a ride when one is sans trailer (me too). We went with Winston and his owner last year for the first time and our horses were very good pacing buddies so we teamed up again.

  10. Thanks, Jenny!

    Thanks, Karen!
    One hundred horses start all at once? Wow! We had staggered starts even for this small group. I guess you cannot stagger when you need as much daylight as possible to go the distance. I found managing our pace to be quite satisfying. I definitely see why people get into long distance riding. Harley seemed to enjoy it too. There was so much to see and do!

  11. Calm, Forward, Straight- Very handy! My horse husband tells me that he was thinking of the Turkey Trot when he placed the order. :) Happy Turkey Day to you and your menagerie!

    Thanks, Margaret!

    smaz- We would have had to step up the pace to make 25 miles in 4.5 hours. Definitely lots more trotting. I was just telling my teammate that he will have to get used to posting, because he will be bringing a walk/trot horse next year! Winston is gaited. ;)

  12. You rock!! That is truly great!
    I love your adorable pics!! I'm on my phone and couldn't see the video -yet.
    I'm so envious...I want a gopro helmet cam very badly!

    Happy Thanksgiving sweet Blogger friend!! You are an inspiration and I'm grateful to have you. Thanks for always visiting and sending me and the mare well wishes.


  13. allhorsestuff- I am honored to receive such praise from Turbo Trail riders! ;)

    I am so grateful for Blogger Friends just like you!

  14. That was fun! I knew I'd like the helmet cam! Harley looked like he enjoyed the outing too! I bet it was nice to get out and about and have some fun.


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