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Tebow continued to be the coolest green horse ever today. I don’t know if I’m allowed to call him green still. He just handles everything like, “Okay, no problem… hey, this is fun!”

We went to a hunter pace today with our barn buddy and her mare. We did the 2’6″ optimum time division and it was fantastic fun, and the weather could not have been more perfect. Early autumn in Maryland is so stunning. It was held by our local hunt club at a really incredibly gorgeous private property. I was debating asking the landowners to adopt me.

Today's route!

Today’s route!

But first, it’s time to board Grace’s way-back machine for some context about why a gentle 2’6″ hunter pace is sort of a big deal for me…

You can smell my teenaged pre-event terror through your computer screen

Can you smell my teenaged pre-event terror through your computer screens?

The first competition I ever did with Flambards, my first horse, was a hunter pace. And it was terrifying. No fault of Flambards’ – I rode with a few trainers who were bad matches for me on a few unsuitable horses as a teenager and by the time I met Flambards, I had absolutely no confidence or bravery left in the saddle. It took two years with him and another four years with Domino (both incredibly generous, forgiving, brave, honest horses who never put a hoof wrong over fences) to fix that, and I’m very grateful and proud that I’m now a very confident rider. But it didn’t happen overnight, and my first show with Flambards was a bit of a disaster. It was meant to be 0.60m but the fences were much bigger than that, and I was bricking it. I had to bow out after the second fence, in tears. Another rider from my stable got on and schooled him around the course and he was fine, but I stayed too scared to give it another go.

One of two fences we got over.

One of two fences we got over. Yeesh… Sorry, Saint-Horse.

So yeah. It was bad. I was embarrassed and terrified. I wanted nothing to do with field hunting or hunter paces or any of that ever again, thank you very much.

And today was the first time I finally tried to do another hunter pace. It’s been a decade since that disaster with Flambards. It took me a decade to get over that particular demon. But Tebow killed it and I had so much fun.

It was about 2.5 miles around fields over coops and logs and stone walls, and he cruised along like he’d done it a million times. The fences were all set into tree lines surrounding the fields, so we had a lot of moments where I’d see a sign pointing out the next fence, turn towards it, and be on top of it at a horrifically awkward angle within one stride. Fortunately we practice jumping angled fences a lot (my trainer is fond of explaining that it doesn’t matter if the jump is crooked – just keep the horse straight) and Tebow didn’t even blink. We had no idea what was on the other side of any of these fences, they were all in the shade, and he led the way without needing any encouragement whatsoever from me. He loved it.

Anxious about something? Try it on a five year old Thoroughbred.

“Ain’t nobody got time for this anxiety crap.”

To be totally honest, I’m less impressed with myself than I expected to be about this. I had built it up a lot over those ten years, but I wasn’t anxious at all beforehand. We had mimosas. I was happy. None of the fences scared me – I just let Tebow do his thing and enjoy himself. No big deal.

I don’t know what kind of time we made… My safety vest doesn’t fit me at all (it’s an adult x-small that my sister used when she was 10, and I am not built like a 10 year old in the chest) and after cantering the first mile or so, I couldn’t breathe and we decided to take the middle of the course a little slower. Even taking it easy, my buddy and I both fessed up that we were shaky in the knees when we got off! We had a lovely gallop at the end going home – there’s nothing quite like galloping a 17 hand Thoroughbred, and I can tell I’ve never come cloes to touching his top gears yet, either.

Anyways, they’ll post times later and I’ll share how we did, mostly because I’m curious about it. But the most important part – it was a lot of fun and I’m really so proud of Tebow. He is one super special, fun kind of horse.

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