Earning my colors
Whew, nearly a month has passed since my last post- time flies when you’re having fun, I suppose! The last month hasn’t been particularly interesting. I went trail riding a few times; the weather has been decidedly spring-like in the last few weeks. Gina, Candy, and Moe have all been out on the trails. Work has picked up, too. The store’s spring/summer orders are nearly all in and processed, and the mobile unit has already hit the road for two local events.
I spent this weekend foxhunting and working/auditing at the local dressage club’s spring symposium. I was eager to go hunting, as it’s been difficult for me to get out much this season. Several hunts were canceled due to poor weather- freezing sleet, extreme cold, awful rain. Several others were rescheduled from Saturday to Sunday, inevitably when I had commitments on Sunday. Saturday was Closing Hunt, and I was determined to go! I arranged for a coworker to cover the mobile unit at the symposium for me, scrubbed the dirt from Gina’s coat on Friday, and stuck a bottle of prosecco in the trailer.
Saturday dawned humid, warm, and sunny. For once, I arrived to the hunt with enough time to socialize before tacking up and getting on. Carrying around an open bottle of bubbly and topping off people’s mimosas is perhaps the best way to ensure you see everyone! I eventually made it back to my trailer and onto my horse just in time to set off with first field. It was a relatively short but fast-paced hunt. Gina was perfect- sometimes she’s too keen, but she was rateable and pleasant on Saturday. The day got hot quickly, which was hard on the hounds. We hacked in after about an hour and a half.
Hunt breakfast was a festive affair with a big crowd. (Hunting is a little like religion- just as some people only make it to church for Christmas and Easter, some people only make it out for Opening and Closing Hunt!) The big draw of Closing Hunt is the awards: buttons, colors, and field hunter of the year. Last year, I received my buttons and this year I was very pleased to receive my colors!
For those unfamiliar with hunting traditions, this means I have earned the privilege of wearing the Hunt’s colors and buttons. The Masters feel I’ve demonstrated knowledge of the sport and its etiquette and protocol, am a capable and proficient rider, and have participated in and contributed to the hunt’s activities. As a member with colors, I’m entitled to ride at the front of my chosen field (behind the field master, of course).
Now, how better to celebrate this occasion than with a new hunt coat for next season? I’ve been looking for an excuse to replace mine anyway. It’s an old wool blend that’s neither comfortable nor stylish. I have my eye on the Irideon Kismet and the Grand Prix Classic. It’s tempting to go wild and get a shadbelly to wear approximately three times per year, too! Other hunting attire I’ll upgrade are my boots- a pair of dress boots are in order to replace the field boots I’ve been getting away with- and a new helmet to replace my too-old one.
My goal for next hunting season is to begin learning to whip. Whippers-in are staff members who assist the Huntsman with the discipline and behavior of the hounds in the hunt field. I need to become more familiar with the pack; the only hound I can really pick out of the crowd is Titan. (How could I forget him after our fateful drive from Tennessee to Oklahoma in 2015?) I also need to get Gina used to a hunt whip, which I don’t think will be a big problem (other than the problem of acquiring a hunt whip). Several of my hunting friends have whipped, so I know I can count on them for advice!
Another goal for next season is to get Candy back in the field. I’d like to spend the summer building positive trail riding experiences for her and take her out second or third field a couple of times next season. Gina will eventually retire and hopefully Candy can fill her shoes!
I’m happy to close out another successful season with Harvard Fox Hounds and grateful to do it on a good horse with good friends!