I Iove a horse named Superman. He lives at the barn where I ride. Ever since I can remember, I wanted to do a hunter pace on him. My instructor looked and finally found a hunt pace at the Farmington Hunt Club. We signed up and started getting Superman and my trainer’s horse George, fit and ready.

When the day of the pace came, I was so excited. I had barely slept the night before. I arrived at the barn an hour before we had to leave to help wash the mud from the horse’s legs and brush them until their coats sparkled. When we had finished, we loaded them into a two-horse trailer and set off.

I knew we were there when we pulled into a long driveway with trailers lining the sides. My heart pounded. After unloading the horses, we tacked them up and headed to the warm-up area.

I was shaking as my Mom gave me a leg up. I adjusted my stirrups and gave Superman a pat. “We can do this boy,” I whispered softly into one of his Piebald ears. As we warmed up, first trotting then working our way to the canter, I started feeling less scared and more comfortable. Suddenly, my heart dropped to my toes. Someone had told my instructor it was our turn. I sat frozen as she repeated what I had already heard “Remember, its not about speed, its about who can make the best choices of how to ride it.” She said this again and again as we approached the starting line.

There was a lady in a truck holding a timer, ready to click the starting button. “And, GO!” I gave Superman a squeeze and started at a canter. Ahead we saw a very wide stream. “George doesn’t like streams,” my instructor said, “you go first.” I nudged Superman forward. He hesitated at first but then walked carefully through it. My instructor followed me. In front of us was a huge hill. I looked for the pink flags that marked our trail and sure enough they lead up the hill.

“Can we?” I started & my instructor finished for me “Yes we can gallop.” My heart gave a happy leap as I urged Superman on. We took off. The wind blew strands of hair out of my face as Superman charged forward. We crested the hill and it was over too soon. We slowed to a walk and looked around. The view was gorgeous.

We followed the pink flags for another hour, winding through trees leading up a mountain. We jumped coops and logs. At one point we were caught behind another group going through a gate at a slow walk. We could see the finish and were eager to pass them. Finally, we spotted a large log at the top of the next hill and headed toward it at a controlled canter. We cleared it and we were done.

Afterwards, I walked over to my Dad who took my jacket and gave me a piggyback ride to the trailer where Superman was inside drinking thirstily. My bottom was very sore but it was worth it.

Surprisingly the judges thought we were an adult group but I was only nine. After the misunderstanding was cleared up, I was happy to learn we got second place for the children’s division. I have a lot of people to thank for this wonderful experience, Eleyne Fitzgereld for helping me advance in my riding and for finding the Hunt Pace, my Mom and Dad for being supportive and most of all to my wonderful, faithful horse, Superman.

By Lola Clare Manning


Michaelanne (Mikey) Dehner grew up in Bucks County, PA and took up horseback-riding at an early age. She showed competitively before going to college to pursue a degree in Vocal Performance, focusing on opera and musical theater. Her passion for the outdoors led her to Colorado where she has lived for the past 13 years with her husband and her Siberian husky, Logan. She recently left her job in the outdoor industry to spend more time with her 2-year-old daughter. In addition to riding horses and writing, Mikey is an avid hiker, marathon runner, certified running coach and personal trainer.

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