After spending much of last week alternating between being cynical and being slightly (or very, as was the case Tuesday) drunk, I spent Saturday foxhunting on my very best mare.
Harvard was hunting over the Flint Creek terrain, but meeting and striking off from a member’s hunt box instead of the usual meeting place. I’d never been there before, so I emailed the MFH and asked for directions. When she didn’t respond, I messaged fellow hunter Rachael, who said she thought it was just east of the regular fixture, but wasn’t sure. I finally got vague directions from another member: “Go past the regular road you take to Flint and take 690. It curves and drops, and the hunt box is at the intersection.” I spent about an hour on Friday night poring over Google Maps and came to the conclusion that I’d surely see a field of horse trailers at some point. (What is it with horse people and vague directions?)
Saturday morning dawned cool and sunny; Gina loaded like a champion and we left in plenty of time. I found the turn-off for the hunt box and prayed for Gina’s forgiveness as the truck and trailer bounced down a twisty and narrow gravel road. I also prayed to whatever god looks after people driving horse trailers that I wouldn’t drive past the fixture and have to back up in someone’s driveway. I eventually saw a field of horse trailers and felt profound relief. Gina was none the worse for wear and I got tacked up quickly.
The hunt moved off by trotting up the gravel road to an open hay meadow. The hounds were cast on the edge of the field and spent a few minutes scenting before opening on a line that led into the dense forest that covers most of the Flint Creek area. The staff were away immediately and first flight followed suit. We jumped a coop in the fenceline to stay with the masters, while some junior members dismounted and opened a gate for second flight.
The trails that cut through the woods are narrow enough that the field must ride single-file through most of them. There are several wet weather creeks that run through the woods, many of which have steep banks on either side. The big gray gelding in front of Gina was not a fan of these banks, and would hesitate to go down them until his rider would give a mighty kick and he’d leaped across the narrow stream beds. Gina became more and more reluctant to stop and wait for him to make up his mind; after the third or fourth time, she ignored my request to halt and rammed into the gelding’s hindquarters. He slid the rest of the way down the bank into the tiny flow of water at the bottom, and was perfectly well behaved about crossing the stream beds for the rest of the hunt.
After the hounds led us up a hill, the quarry led them back down and up again. They seemed to lose the scent after that, and were gathered up and recast in a big open area. The field had a bit of a breather while the hounds worked, but we set off in pursuit at a brisk canter soon enough. We ended up back in the woods. The pace slowed quite a bit, and eventually the master called it a day.
Back at the trailer, I rubbed down a sweaty Gina, packed her hooves with Magic Cushion, and left her to her hay bag while I joined everyone for hunt breakfast. We headed home after that. I continue to be impressed with how well Gina hunts, and I’m so glad I joined Harvard Fox Hounds this year!