I decided at the last minute to go hunting on Saturday for Harvard Fox Hounds’ Christmas Hunt. I’d hesitated about going for a couple of reasons: none of my hunting friends were going, and I was working late on Friday because The Horse of Course was hosting the Green Country Dressage year-end awards/holiday party. I decided to go anyway- I figured I could branch out and make some new friends at the hunt, and since the hunt didn’t ride until 10 AM, I could sleep in until 5:30 AM Saturday morning.
Gina was positively friendly on Saturday morning and loaded without any real shenanigans. We left right on time, got to Flint Creek Farm without incident, and Gina generally behaved herself while I tacked her up and attempted to tie my brand new stock tie. (Here’s a piece of advice: wash your new stock tie before you wear it. It was so stiff that I could barely tie it and it rubbed my neck horribly all day.) The field hacked out in a different direction than both the hunter pace and previous hunts and met the hound truck in a big open field. The hounds immediately set off and the hunt was on!
Gina felt super fresh- she’s had a lot of time off recently, first because she was lame, then because I was out of town and her lesson riders have been busy with family holiday events. When the field took off at a brisk canter after the hounds, Gina leapt forward eagerly and I had to really get firm with her to keep her from passing the field master.
The hunt was long and fast- lots of trotting and cantering, but with enough stops to listen to the hounds that the horses had time to rest. Most of the hunting was across open terrain, so there was plenty of good galloping and even a little bit of jumping. We cleared a big ditch, some sizeable logs, and a few coops. There were several water crossings- Flint Creek was running deep and fast due to recent rain, and one crossing was deep enough that my feet got wet!
We viewed a coyote, which was very exciting. It evaded the hounds after a good chase, though, and has presumably lived to be hunted another day.
Gina seemed tired but still in good spirits at the end of the hunt. She jogged back very sound and I rubbed her extensively with liniment when we got back to the barn. And then she was dead lame on Sunday. She acted like the soreness was in her feet, so I’m guessing the fast riding over rocky trails on Saturday caused the problem.
I feel bad; while she’s never seemed to have a problem going barefoot at any of the hunter paces or previous hunts, more than one person suggested I put shoes on her as a precaution. I’m going to pack her feet with Magic Cushion, give her some time off, and probably have her shod next time the farrier’s out. (And then have them pulled when hunt season is over.)
Aside from Gina’s lameness, it was a wonderful hunt! I chatted with one of the women who’d been on my hunter pace team at hunt breakfast, and she introduced me to a few other people. I even got to visit with Titan, the hound I transported from Tennessee! This was Titan’s first hunt at Flint Creek and everyone seemed impressed with his performance; he was brought in during hunt breakfast for many pats and ear rubs and compliments on his conformation and attitude.
I can’t wait to get back out there once Gina’s set up with appropriate footwear!