Jack’s First Race

So by this point, this is super old news. Here are photos from Jack’s first race: Green Spring Valley Hounds – Sr. Field Master’s Chase (April 2, 2011). This pics are by Zane Gorove. Click here to go to his website and see photos from all the Maryland Steeplechase Association races. Racing again this Saturday at the Howard County Cup.

This is the group of us foxhunters making our way to the starting line. For a field master’s chase, you actually just follow along behind the master and can not pass them. The master of this race was Shelia Jackson (front left) from GSVH. At this point I thought we would be going at a “hunting” pace and over the coups and logs that the juniors had done earlier in the day so I was feeling fairly confident. Boy was I wrong!

Shelia took us right over the timber course (3’6”) at a very fast pace. Here I’m still figuring out how much I can just let Jack go. There is a lot of trust in this sport. Way more than in eventing. The guy in the yellow is Rod Cameron, who was one of the “coaches” at the clinic I took.

Here we are galloping between fences. Jack doesn’t really gallop low or stretch out, which is OK for me because it makes it easier to balance before the jumps. Or should I say, let him balance on his own before the jumps.

Now I’ve gotten the hang of it and have actually started opening my fingers and slipping the reins so Jack can have more freedom in the air. Notice how small the jumps look under my 17.2 hand horse!

I just love the expression on Jack’s face as we try and race towards the finish. He is totally game but sadly, didn’t understand the whole concept of passing other horses. I can’t blame him since all winter we’ve been hunting and I have not allowed him to pass anyone. I’m hoping at this weekend’s race he’ll be a bit more game about that part of racing.

So what did I learn about steeplechasing from this race? 1) My horse is a rock star! He totally stepped up to the challenge, kept up with the leaders, etc. 2) Even after breaking his neck several years ago, he can still jump above 3-feet. 3) One really does have to be a bit nuts to timber race. 

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