Sunday, October 13, 2013

Hudson's Big Race (Get it -- "Big?")

Yesterday was the big day for Hudson and I at the Genesee Valley Hunt Races.  We were in a field of six entries in the Heavy Horse Race.

My brain is still doing all the things a brain does after working hard toward a particular goal, then accomplishing that goal, then experiencing the day-after-accomplishing-the-goal.

A random review:

The hounds getting organized before the parade.
--Hudson was well behaved from the moment I asked her to get on the trailer to go to the event to the time I asked her to step off again at home.  (After that she seemed to be in a foul mood, though, pinning her ears and taking kicks at her adoring followers, Starlight and DeCato).

--The Hunt Races are a gorgeous horse event.  You just can't find anything more pretty and perfectly suited for Autumn in Upstate New York.  It was definitely the biggest crowd I ever rode before, with people setting up elaborate and yummy-looking tailgating spreads, sitting in folding chairs along the rail, hustling and bustling among the other activities at the event.
The Heavies heading to the track.

--We experienced one of those "Did that just happen?" moments when Hudson and I were walking around the grassy van parking area and we were suddenly surrounded by about 20 foxhounds.  They were on their way, with three or four mounted members of the Genesee Valley Hunt, to do a parade of the hounds before the grandstand.  Hudson and I had never been in a sea of foxhounds before, but they came and went so quickly, Hudson barely had time to lift an eyebrow. 

--I had to borrow five pounds from the real jockeys to weigh enough for the race.  I have never been in a jockey's tent before. 
Entering the track
Interesting, place, quietly sheltered from the hustle and bustle of the event, with slender men and women getting ready for their races.  These steeplechase jockeys are not as small as the thoroughbred flat track jockeys that you see on TV in the USA, and some of them do have gorgeous Irish accents (!).

--My husband, who said he didn't do anything, was a huge help yesterday.  When you have a horse at an event, it is really tough to manage alone.  He doesn't think he's doing anything when he stays with Hudson while I'm running around trying to figure out what I'm supposed to do, but that is important.  Plus, he gave me a leg up in the paddock and reminded me to unhook my inflatable vest so I wouldn't blow up like a marshmallow when I dismounted -- a spectacal that would have scared me and Hudson and amused everyone who saw it, no doubt.
Here we come!

--Thanks to Trish Pierce for taking most of these pictures and offering kind encouragement all along the way.  And to Wendy Youmans and company for the big cheer when Hudson and I entered the track. 

--Regarding the race itself, Hudson and I got off to a slow, fairly sideways start and never caught up with the field.  We weren't last, but the gap between us and the leaders was bigger than the one Secretariat left in the Belmont.  Our delay at the start was due to my cuing her a little slowly to run, and to her credit, she didn't try to take off with the rest of the huge horses, but waited for me to say go.  One of my goals for the race was to not get into a crowd of horses, because I wasn't 100 percent confident that Hudson would behave herself.  Well, we didn't have to worry about that!  We never saw anything but their tails in the distance.

At the finish. 
The sideways part was her idea, though, caused when the one horse that finished behind us started running.  Hudson's not used to horses running behind her, and she thought sideways was advisable at that point.  It didn't take us long to get back in the right direction though.   She gave me a lot of steam on the turn for home, and made up some of the gap to the leaders, but she petered out at then end.
That infamous big white arse again.

The crowd did give us a big cheer when we finally made it across the finish line, though, and the bugle player gave us a drunken-sounding hurrah. 

And, despite Hudson's obese persona, she recovered quickly from the half-mile run and was impatiently ready to go home not long after that.  

So home we went, relieved that ours was one of the few races of the day in which no riders fell off, particularly, Yours Truly!

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