Friday, December 10, 2010

A-Hunting We Will Go!

I was invited to go fox hunting on the day before Thanksgiving, something that I have wanted to do since I was probably, oh, about 12 or 13. Anyway, I've been meaning to write up a detailed report of the experience and haven't had time. Instead, I am cutting & pasting highlights that I wrote in an email that I sent to a couple of friends a couple of days afterwards.

(Disclaimer: This was a drag hunt, which means that a scent was dragged ahead of time for the hounds to follow. There were no live foxes involved).

This is what hunting was like:

  • Pre-hunt announcements, instructions, etc. (meet our field master and so-on).
  • Release the hounds -- watch them fly across the field (it was an awesome sight). Ruby, ears pricked & watching, you could almost see the wheels turning and her thinking, 'Well, I know what THIS is!' (At certain times in open country when you could see the hounds and the field of horses all spread out chasing, it was breath-taking and amazing to know you are a part of it).
  • Next moment, you're just flat out galloping HARD. Like, tears-flowing-out-of-your-eyes-so-much-you-can-hardly-see, hard. Horse is galloping and passing everyone in the field. You have strong "conversation" with horse to gain control and not pass field master. Pass everyone in field but field master (thankfully).
  • Gallop hard from field to field to woods to field again.
  • Encounter jumps along the way and jump everything. Thought once in a while floats across brain, 'Wow, that looks a bit ... LARGE ... oh what the heck.' And jump it anyway. Try to get the coordination of giving the horse in front enough room to jump while not disrupting the flow of pace. Figure that out and move on.
  • Fly though the woods and think, 'Wow if I was trail riding on my own, I'm not sure if I would even trot through this footing, no less gallop ... ' Gallop anyway.
  • Gallop through field with a little ditch with water flowing. Other horses splash through, your horse jumps it (yes, those ditch issues are long gone).
  • Realize about 20-30 minutes in that your quads are completely shredded and jell-o-like, like you had been skiing big moguls all day.
  • Realize that without recent running program you would NOT have been able to do this. Be thankful for running program.
  • Finally some trotting and a couple of check-points (where you stop and the fields re-group). Realize that your legs are now jelly.
  • Reach area for stirrup cup, volunteers hand out lemonade. Some seasoned hunt members pull out flasks.
  • Hack back to starting point and the riding part of the hunt is over.
  • Go in for the hunt "tea" (which is really a big, potluck brunch). Eat good food and down two big glasses of wine.
  • Wake up the next day incredibly sore from head-to-toe.

That was my hunt experience in a nutshell! And I can't wait to do it again (am considering becoming a member for next year).

Did I mention how wonderful my horse is?

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