I’ve been eagerly awaiting Harvard Fox Hounds’ Opening Hunt since I attending Closing Hunt in the spring. Hunting was an unexpected joy last season; Gina behaved as if she were made for the sport, and I know it strengthened the trust between us.
Finding my gear was something of a challenge, since half of it was packed in boxes and stuffed in closets after our (still ongoing) move. The only things I could not locate were my flasks, so I regretfully left my saddle bag at home and felt sad I’d be unable to share port with my friends in the field. I cleaned my tack thoroughly- I took apart my bridle, scrubbed my saddle, and polished my boots until they gleamed. Gina was beautifully braided for Saturday thanks to a friend whose braids stay in better than mine do, and I gave her a proper hunter clip earlier in the week.
When I went out to catch her on Saturday morning, she was in quite a state. She and Moe were galloping around their pasture, and Gina was screaming at the top of her lungs. I couldn’t figure out what had upset them so, save that it was chilly and crisp. I eventually caught her by chasing her into her stall, and she loaded into the trailer without any fuss.
I arrived at the fixture later than I intended, as I was pulled over for running a toll booth on the way. (I have a PikePass- an electronic toll collection pass- on my daily driver Subaru, but don’t have one on my truck. I’ve previously run toll booths in the PikePass lane on accident out of habit.) Gina was mercifully clean, and I quickly threw on my jacket and her tack just in time to catch the blessing of the hounds.
The hunt set out at 10:30 AM, and I rode first flight. The hounds set out on a scent almost as soon as they were cast; we followed close behind. The first part of the hunt took us on a steep climb- we wound up and up and up through narrow trails, listening to the cry of the hounds. The trail ended with jump over a coop onto the gravel road, at which point the hounds lost the quarry.
The hounds were re-cast at the top of a hill and quickly set off again. They led us down the hill and through a few open fields before losing the scent again. First flight took the opportunity to do a little larking. Gina was very good over a big log, a sketchy looking brush box, and two coops. As our group headed back to rejoin the hunt, a whip galloped up to tell us the hounds were back on a line. We headed off at a run to catch up, and spent the next half hour trotting after the pack as they hunted through the woods.
Our quarry escaped us, but it was a marvelous day for hunting. There were three viewings, several good runs, and plenty of jumps. Gina was tired, but perked up after a quick bath and a mouthful of treats. I made sure she had plenty of hay and water, packed her hooves with Magic Cushion, and headed to hunt breakfast.
I’m so glad hunt season has begun, and I’m looking forward to participating as a member this year!