I’ve actually never been on a paper chase before. My mother has. She grew up in Gwynned Valley, PA., and often did them on her brother’s horse, Sis. She fondly remembers finding the paper stuffed in tree forks along the way, and searching for it in fun places all over the countryside. This would have been 65-75 years ago, so paper chases have been around a really long time. I don’t think they do paper any more (probably due to littering concerns). Instead, on this paper chase, buckets hung from trees had different colored pens in them that one member of your team would mark on their hand. There were 7 colors to get along the way. There were woods, fields, nice grass, and deep mud. There were some jumps, most pretty small, some a bit wonky that we avoided due to being pretty narrow or constructed with sharp things I was afraid to risk jumping. The good ones were a lot of fun. There was a plastic tarp to walk over in one spot. (Which we did BEAUTIFULLY!)
There were horses literally everywhere. The hunt must have made money, as there were at least 80 horses. Some were galloping. Some were trotting and jumping. Some were tearing about, running into others, trying to keep their horses on a loose rein and expect them to find the way by osmosis, I suppose. Some were walking sedately, trying to avoid danger — that for the most part, would have been us. While there were lots of fun things, there were at least three dangerous things that happened just to our group along the way, so I am pretty thankful that nothing untoward happened to me and Hamish. He was able to avoid almost everything except getting whipped in the head by a branch in front of us that was accidently held back and springloaded by another rider; if it is any consolation, the same branch snapped me across the face, too, leaving a bruise on my cheek I woke up to find this morning.
So the jury is out, for me, on paper chases. I am very glad I was on a sensible and athletic horse who was able to avoid danger, but he started out the day very “up”, dancing sideways, trying to gallop and buck, very excited when the other horses would gallop past or run around him. He did kick out once at a horse that got too close, but I think that horse had been too close several times before he took action, and I had actually warned the person not to get too close before she ran up on his butt three or four times, so I can’t fault Hamish very much. He jumped everything I put him at without hesitation or looking, plowed through the mud without difficulty, and was quite excited to be near all the horses. Even at the end, tied to the trailer after being ridden 2 hours, he was still pawing and bucking with joy to see the additional paper chase horses still going about galloping past the trailers. Hmmm. So I put him back in the trailer, and we went home to chill, and ride the other three left at home. All I can say is thank God I was on Hamish!
In all I rode 4 horses and bathed them all on Saturday, then rode in the paper chase, came home, rode the other three and bathed Lucky before literally collapsing on the couch. But I m all recovered and hoping that I get an 8-hour day at work at least twice this week so I can ride! No pictures of the paper chase, and while I have some from the weekend, I’ll put them in another post later this week.