Breaking Covert

Surprise, we hunted this week!

Doing our favorite thing!
The hunt that I have been capping with this season hadn't gone out since Boxing Day, and the weather has been really wacky here lately, so I was fairly sure that my foxhunting season was done and over with until the end of the summer. To my surprise and delight, Sully's Mom texted me on Monday night asking if I'd like to come hunt on Wednesday! After pretty much immediately checking in with my boss, I responded with a resounding "YES!!"

While I do love lessons and showing and all of that good stuff, going hunting makes me feel like a kid on Christmas morning. Add to that finally getting to hunt with the dear friend who got me into this whole crazy thing in the first place, and I was giddy with excitement getting ready for the meet!

It was luxurious being able to get up at 6am instead of 4 and do my normal morning routine before heading to the barn to prep Dino for the 10am meet. While early-morning hunts are downright magical, I do love me some sleep.

Waiting to get going - note we are still clean. 
We were the first ones to arrive, and my friend commented that not many members would likely be attending that day. She was certainly right - only one other regular member was there besides us! It was a teeny tiny field of three, plus four whips, the huntsman, and the field master. The weather was pretty darn perfect for February with the sun shining and the temperatures reaching the low 40's. Dino and I definitely came out to cap on the right day!

The field master's horse was rather fractious and hot, and she made the decision early on to ride with one of the whips who was riding the horse's stablemate to keep everyone calm and safe. That meant that Sully's Mom was picked to lead the field!

Dino started out the morning feeling very keen, so much so that I started to contemplate getting him a bit with a little leverage for hunting! He's figured out the game at this point, and the game is FUN, so stopping is not always on Dino's List of Things To Do While Hunting. Other than being a little strong, he was basically perfect, as usual. Dino was more than happy to follow his brother-from-another-mother and watch the hounds work.

Watching the hounds! 
The hunt was the perfect pace for us in our out-of-shape state. We mostly kept to a walk and trot, with short canters and gallops sprinkled throughout the day. The footing was either totally ideal or deep, heavy mud, so I let Dino mostly pick own pace through the sloppier sections. I'm always amazed at how Dino evaluates the conditions and chooses the best path and pace through less-than-perfect footing.

The huntsman cast the hounds in a few different spots, letting them work some big brush piles until they got on a line. When they did catch a scent it was short lived, and we mused that the ground might be getting too warm to hold a scent.

Luckily for us, this pack is fantastic, and were soon hot on the trail of our quarry! Dino knows when things are about to get real, and he absolutely senses the electricity of the hounds singing and the huntsman yelling and the horses getting poised and ready to run. It is, without a doubt, one of my favorite parts of hunting.

Leading the field (!)  like NBD.
At a few points during the hunt, Sully's Mom invited Dino and I to lead the field! Granted it wasn't much of a field, and I often yelled back to her asking where the heck I should go, but Dino was 100% game to step up and lead. At one point while we were heading up our little field of three, the huntsman took off after the hounds without warning. I nudged Dino into a fast canter, and my Wonder Pony took off after them! I couldn't stop the huge smile from stretching across my face - nothing beats the pure joy of hunting on Dino, and I was stupid-proud of how easily he stepped into the role of leader. He's just incredible.

Dino did, however, say "no" once on this hunt. We had come to a very steep, nearly-vertical descent down into a deep creek bed, and the horses had to slide down a narrow, muddy track to get to the bottom. Sully and our other companion went down easily, but Dino really didn't like how slick the narrow track was, and had a hard time finding a way down that he felt comfortable with. I wasn't too thrilled with the idea of him launching us off a cliff, which was what he was thinking of doing instead of sliding down the muddy path. Sully's Mom ended up coming back across for us, and we cantered around to the other side of the field where there was an easier crossing. Dino was much happier with that plan, and leapt wildly over the creek once we hit the bottom of the bed, following Sully in a hand gallop back up to where the last member of our field had caught up with the huntsman.

Euro Pony redeemed himself shortly thereafter, leading the field down an EXTREMELY long, steep hill a-la "Man From Snowy River", only slower. It was definitely the steepest incline I'd ever ridden him down, and I was really proud of how he tackled it! We jumped a couple small logs throughout the hunt (and launched over every. single. stream.), but I opted out of popping over any of the coops we came across. They were all solid BN height, and with the muddy footing and not having the benefit of a big, energetic field to pull us over, they made me nervous. There will be plenty more chances for jumping big coops!

Standing at our last check of the day, watching the hounds like a good hunt pony
The highlight of the day was the view we got of TWO different foxes! Near the end of the hunt, the huntsman signaled for us to wait for him in a little clearing between two fields while the hounds worked. As we walked the horses up to get a better view of the hounds, a fox came blasting across the field! The hounds weren't far behind, and the whole pack came racing at top speed right behind him. The excitement was palpable, and soon our little field was off after the hounds! The pack had chased the fox back to a brush pile that they had worked earlier, and it went to ground. But not a moment later, a second fox popped out of the brush and darted away! The hounds went ballistic, and the huntsman allowed them to worry the fox for a while to try and get him to come out again. The fox had had enough of our game, however, and stayed hidden. Once all the hounds were called off and accounted for, we headed back to the trailers muddy, tired, and happy. Nothing beats a foxhunting high.

The morning was a little more laid-back than usual with such a small field, and I really enjoyed the chance to make new friends and ride at a bit of a slower pace. We were out for a total of almost three hours, and while Dino felt a little tired by the end there was definitely still gas in the tank, which is exactly how I wanted to end the meet! In addition to a wonderful hunt, I had a great time getting to know our third field member, who was just a lovely, friendly person. I also got to chat at length with a few of the whips and the field masters after the horses were all untacked and loaded, and I appreciated the opportunity to talk to a really nice group of like-minded people.

I know approximately one hound by sight... 
Until next time, I'll be daydreaming about foxhunting.




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Comments

  1. Gorgeous pictures - what a great outing!! As much as I love the idea of a giant hunt, a smaller more intimate group seems like it has some real benefits too. Dino looks great, glad you had so much fun!! I wanna goooo toooooo haha

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    1. I think you should bring Charlie up for a sleepover late next summer when they are getting started cubbing and we'll go!! It's a bit slower earlier in the season, so a good time for you guys to dip your toes in and see how he does!

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  2. I love reading these foxhunting posts and living vicariously through you!

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  3. It is so cool you have access to stuff like this!

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  4. OMG im soooo jealous that looks so fun!!!!

    I went hunting last saturday and it was a bit of a disaster (post forthcoming...) but it's been so boggy I don't know if I'd take runkle out.

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    1. Oh no, not a disaster! Yeah there were parts of the territory that were REALLY deep and swampy - definitely glad it wasn't a very fast hunt yesterday, and I'd be cautious about taking out a horse just recovering from injury, too. It always amazes me though how much more our horses can handle than we think they can! Riding over that kind of footing would have freaked me the heck out previously, but Dino just keeps right on truckin' and is none the worse for wear.

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  5. How fun! Your love of hunting is so palpable through this post <3

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  6. I had fun just reading your post :) What a wonderful outing!

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  7. Sounds like a great hunt! We don't often get to view our quarry out here (since we're hunting in a fairly densely forested area)- super cool!

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  8. Foxhunting is the BEST! So glad you are getting to go out and enjoy this amazing sport! I started hunting 6'ish years ago and now I can't imagine my life without November-March hunting every Saturday. :)

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  9. OH my goodness. I want to do this even MORE than I did before after reading this. How. Freaking. Fun.

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  10. I really want to get out hunting. Jelly!

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  11. Oh I loved reading about this and it sounds like it was a blast. I'd love to try this sometime

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