Another weekend, another hunt; I think Gina and I have found our calling, y’all. No scores, no judging, good food, lots of drinks, friendly people- I mean, how could you not like it?!
I’d made plans for Gina to spend the night at my friend Rachael’s house on Friday night; I was very excited at the prospect of not getting up at 4:00 AM to leave for the hunt and at the idea of having some company for the drive there and back! I left work a little early and went out to the barn to get Gina. As I was hooking up the trailer, Moe saw me and started to pace the fenceline and whinny excitedly. Poor old Moe- he’s horrible in group outings in open spaces, so he is never, ever going hunting. But that didn’t stop him from giving me his best “TAKE MEEEEE!!!” face Friday night.
Gina was decidedly less excited and very firmly refused to get into the trailer. It took three of us to convince her to get in; no amount of feed, treats, coaxing, or moving her feet could persuade her that getting into the trailer at 5:30 PM on a Friday night was a good idea. A person on either side of the ramp, one of whom had a dressage whip, did convince her to grudgingly load. She unloaded at Rachael’s without a problem and spent the night quietly eating hay in an individual paddock.
I slept in to the extremely luxurious hour of 6:00 AM on Saturday morning and had plenty of time to double check my garment bag and show kit and eat breakfast. Rachael and I headed out right on time at 7:45 AM (after no fuss from Gina about getting on the trailer) and were one of the first people to arrive at beautiful Flint Creek. We had lots of time to groom and tack up the horses, fill up our flasks with port, and drink champagne before getting heading out.
The hunt started out by climbing a huge hill. I’ve never gone up it before; it’s usually ridden downhill at the hunter pace and my friends and I jokingly refer to it as The Man From Snowy River hill. It’s super steep, very rocky, and a tough descent for horse and rider. Going up was just as difficult! I was glad I’d put on a non-slip pad and breastplate. We stopped on the hill a couple of times, which I think made it even harder for Gina. She scrambled up gamely, and once we were on open ground, we had a nice trot and canter before stopping to listen to the hounds.
This hunt moved a lot more than opening hunt. There was more trotting and cantering, more winding around (and up and down!) the hills, and even some jumping of little logs and a moderately sized ditch. Gina was super. Like last time, she was attentive to the hounds and kept an ear toward them at all times. She moved off with the rest of the group, but stopped readily. She never became overly excited or upset. She wasn’t even fazed by hounds coming up behind her or running alongside her. Who knew spooky, weird Gina would be so great at hunting?
After about two hours, we turned toward home. Gina ate some hay, declined to drink any water, and napped in the sun during hunt breakfast. She loaded right up for home, unloaded quietly, and hopped back on my trailer to go back to the barn.
Gina’s lesson kid had signed up for a spot in a dressage clinic held at the barn on Sunday, but I got a text on Sunday morning that Gina was lame. I talked my barn owner/friend about it at last night’s dressage board meeting; she said Gina was definitely lame (not just stiff) in her right hind, but she didn’t see any swelling or obvious injuries. My guess is that the big hill climb followed by a couple of hours of cantering on and off threw something out of whack; either that or Gina has a stone bruise from the rocky ground. Gina is old and normally fairly stiff after exerting herself, so I’m not particularly concerned about it. I’m planning to head out tomorrow to see how she looks and feels. If she’s still quite lame, I guess fruitcake Moe will have his moment in the sun at this weekend’s hunter pace!