Monday, June 09, 2014

Fox Hunting!

Ruby and I hunting in November, 2010 (Ruby is the chestnut & white pinto in the middle).

A couple of friends at my barn belong to a local hunt and have been after me for a long time to join them for a hunt. I went once, and had a great time, but I hadn't gone again, mostly because I haven't felt that I have been in shape for it. And it's a bit daunting, so I'll admit to being nervous. This year they decided to add a Spring cubbing season and my friends were again asking me if I would like to go. I finally said yes!

I had a very tough and challenging CrossFit session on Friday night and then got up early on Saturday morning very nervous about what I had signed myself up for. We got to the hunt fixture with plenty of time, so it helped that I didn't feel rushed getting Ruby tacked up. We rode up a little trail to the field where we were gathering. Once we turned the corner and Ruby saw the hounds, her head went up and her ears pricked forward as if to say, 'oh, I know what THIS is!' She was pretty excited from the start. We got started walking down to the trail and she was jigging this way and that and suddenly the hounds let out a full cry and we were off, galloping full out!

The first galloping set was challenging to say the least. Ruby was very strong and full of herself and I spent most of it trying to have a conversation with her. She got so close up my friend's horse's butt that he actually kicked out at her in warning (Ruby didn't seem to care). We entered a field and almost committed the cardinal sin of passing hunt staff. Luckily I was able to pull her up before that happened. After that first mad gallop, however, she was great! The hunt field this time would gallop for a bit, then we would stop and re-group and collect the hounds up and then gallop on again. We spent most of the ride standing or galloping with very little between. I was happy with how adjustable Ruby really was after that first crazy sprint. She was right up there in the front, but listening and I found that I could easily check her down to a slower pace when needed. There weren't a ton a jumps at this fixture, but there were a few and we flew over them too fast for me to even register anything about them. Were they big? I don't even know.

After lots & lots of galloping we were walking through the field at the end and someone said, "oh look, a fawn!" I looked around and then down and literally at Ruby's feet all curled up and sleeping was a little fawn. He finally woke up and looked around and saw all these horses standing around him and skittered out of there. It was so cute and funny and random.

After the hunt we enjoyed the hunt "tea" under a tree in the field where we were parked. Many of the hunt members asked me if I would be back and I said that I would love to. They also asked why I hadn't been back since the first time and I said, "I don't know, I guess I've been nervous." Someone laughed and said, "Usually when someone is nervous, they want to ride in the back." Yeah, not Ruby & me, we were at the front of the field.

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