My First Judged Pleasure Ride

My First Judged Pleasure Ride

April showers did not bring May flowers for me in the spring of 1986. Instead it brought on a case of post-natal blues! I had thought that, since Elizabeth, my daughter, was then 5 months old, I had escaped that common problem. But the spark had gone out of my like and there were no exciting plans for the future; nothing to look forward to with eager anticipation.


The horses had been neglected; both Echo and Spirit needed more than just food, warm stables and brief daily runs in the barn corral. I hadn't done much riding the two previous years. In 84 Echo had produced the filly, Spirit, and then was occupied with nursing her offspring. The next year it was my turn to begin a family. I decided, we mothers better get together in dealing with the spring "blahs."


The first step was to get new shoes for Echo. Jack Watson came to attend to that work and chatted enthusiastically about a "Judged Pleasure Ride" which was to take place at Beth Smith's place in Indian River. But -- 12 miles! That is quite a distance for someone who hadn't competed in horse shows for three years. Jack convinced me that 12 miles wasn't much of a distance. He said that show-horse riders would do just as much riding while warming up their mounts in the training ring prior to competing in a pleasure class.


He made it sound so interesting and like such a fun time that I decided to give it a try. Besides that, I hadn't seen Beth Smith in a year and this make an ideal excuse for a visit, if nothing else. But with only two weeks to get Echo and myself in some sort of shape again, it was necessary to ride every evening after work. (God Bless understanding husbands, mothers and mothers-in-law!)


Raymond put the horse box on the truck for me and I cleaned my tack. I didn't know anything about Judge Pleasure Rides, so not knowing what to take, I loaded the truck with everything in the barn that was moveable. The next morning, the day of the ride, it was poring rain! Mom and Dad assumed I wouldn't be going and had gone off to do other things. Panic set in. Mom had offered to look after Elizabeth and Dad was to help me with the tailgate of the horsebox, which is impossible for me to lift alone. My parents did not answer the telephone when I tried to tell them that I was still planning on going to the ride. At the last possible moment (just before Echo and I broke into tears of frustration), they showed up in the barn yard. Then, with the horse loaded and Mom taking possession of the baby, I was finally off.


It was a difficult drive to Beth's place. Raining so heavily the visibility was bad and, as I had never driven is such rain with Echo in the truck box, it was quite frightening. I always worry more about Echo than myself.


One consolation, everyone else was late in arriving because of the driving conditions too, so the start had be been delayed. It was so wet, I saddled Echo in the truck box. Luck was then with us for the rain stopped just before the riders left.


Johanne Ings and Virginia Hodgins were at the ride. I had been told that this pair had participated in several previous rides so I tried to follow their example. The day was cold and wet but Echo was so keen that she proved enough of a handful to warm me up in no time. The ride seemed over in a flash!


It is surprising how quickly one can do 12 miles. Of course, on this occasion, most riders wanted to get in out of the wet as quickly as possible. Such a short ride was just the thing for me though, I wanted more! After the dinner and award presentations, I didn't want to go home I was enjoying myself so much. Then I overheard Johanne and Virginia talking of a Competitive Trail Ride to held in 2 weeks time. I asked for more information and they kindly invited me to go with them. Well, I did hem and haw a bit but, deep down, I knew the truth. I was hooked!


In 1986, Karen Murray's first year in distance riding, she was awarded two national championships at the Atlantic 100, the individual award for the Canadian Champion Horsemanship and the Champion Trail Horse award went of Echo.

c)2001 by Karen Murray. All rights reserved.
Do not reproduce or redistribute any material
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