It is interesting how goals change over time. As I step back from the show ring, more and more I realize what I have been missing out on from the equestrian industry.
A large portion of my 11 years of horse ownership involved competing in the hunter ring at the national level. I would not trade those experiences, but I have to say finding new things to do with my horse is awesome too.
The Hamilton Hunt, a local hunt club, arranged a wine tour on horseback in the Niagara region. I have been tossing around trying out hunting for the last few years. The wine ride was open to non-hunt members and had slower groups, so seemed like a great introduction. Well…and wine.
I anticipated that it might be a bit much for my horse…and I was mostly right. The day of was probably one of the hottest so far this summer. Despite the sweltering heat, Scout was still very excited. The ride started at Hernder Winery. After a brief introduction by the hunt masters, the group broke into smaller groups based on speed. With 57 horses on the ride, we elected to stick with a walk/trot group for our first outing.
Through the vineyards, Scout started jogging on the spot. She was pretty much doing a piaffe – which would be great if I could recreate that in the ring! She kept up these antics all the way to the second winery, Peller Estates.
We entered the winery through the vineyards to come upon a beautiful pond spraying water from a fountain. The staff greeted us with a selection of white, red and rosé wines. They were good, although it was a bit of a challenge to taste on horseback.
After Peller Estates, we headed to Shorthills Conservation area for a ride through the park. We picked a narrow dirt trail that wound through the dense forest. At this point, Scout started cantering on the spot. I was really proud of her for crossing some scary bridges though.
On our way back to Peller Estates, our group leader gave us the option to go ahead and canter. After a long gallop, Scout calmed down and behaved awesome for the rest of the ride. I think being able to get out some energy made all the difference. I have to give a big thank you to the Hamilton Hunt for a well organized ride.
I hope this is only the first step and I look forward to trying out many new adventures on horseback. I received a certificate for free capping this season, so who knows, maybe hunting will be my new thing!