On Saturday, I opted to skip the dressage club’s new test symposium and go foxhunting instead. (I mean, is this even a choice?)
Harvard Fox Hounds has pushed Opening Hunt back to December for the last couple of years, which I think has been good for everyone. The weather here remains very warm throughout the fall, and those temperatures are hard on hounds and horses. An extended cubbing season has given Harvard’s young hounds more opportunities to get out and given our newish hunt master more practice. Plus, it’s always fun to get some extra mileage out of fun cubbing attire!
Despite thoroughly grooming Gina on Thursday afternoon, some kind of mud-encrusted swamp creature greeted me on Saturday morning. Gina had mud everywhere: on her forehead, in her luxurious tail, all over her back. I put her in the trailer and headed out anyway.
We arrived at Flint Creek in enough time for me to scrape most of the mud off and greet all of our hunting friends. All of Harvard’s off-season activities seem to have fallen on weekends I had work commitments; I hadn’t seen anyone since spring! Once I got on, Gina was raring to go. She fidgeted anxiously while the hounds were rounded up and guided down to the draw.
Once the hounds were cast, they were off immediately! Gina and I were right up front behind our field master, so we took off after the pack. The initial chase led us up a winding trail at a brisk canter. Gina felt super- she was as surefooted and steady as ever and stopped to stand quietly while we waited to see where the hounds would take us. After that first run, the hunt was much more sedate. We spent most of our time at a trot or walk and had plenty of time to stop and share flasks with our friends.
We were out for about two hours. Gina never lagged or tired, though she was very sweaty and hot. I haven’t clipped her yet, and it was a balmy 72 degrees on Saturday! She cooled out on our long hack back to the trailers and showed no signs of soreness or stiffness yesterday.
I’m incredibly happy to be back hunting on Gina! She’s so good, and it’s a relief to ride a steady, experienced horse instead of a wild green bean. Opening Hunt is December 8, so the next month and a half will mean lots of conditioning work for Gina and for me!