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January 10, 2008

Hunt Report: Misty River Hounds

Misty River Hounds
1369 Madison 1335,
Huntsville, Arkansas 72740
Established 1989.
Registered 1991.
Recognized 1992.

Juniors Make The Day

The seventh annual Misty River Hounds junior meet dawned somewhere between winter hot and autumn crisp. The junior meet vibrated with an exuberance that no other season hunt can claim. It’s a day when young riders reign supreme, basking in the attention of seasoned hunters, as they experience riding to hounds and learning hunt customs.

When MFH and huntsman Dina Del Guercio gave instructions and blew leave the meet on Dec. 8, 10 hound couples, 60 riders and 45 tallyho wagon guests set out. The sun peeked out for a few minutes before again scurrying behind the clouds. Field master Linda Brown and junior master Erin Quinn put their first-flight riders in the huntsman’s hip pocket, positioning riders for a personal view of the hound work. And the hounds did their part.

Within three minutes of working the covert, strike hound Jewel found in the Bull Pasture and ran straight to the Bull Pond, shooting across the dirt road and onto the Fancher property with the pack following in full cry. Jewel was drawn like a magnet along the line despite Wiley’s effort to foul his scent by running with deer.

With the hounds heading to Holloway Mountain, Del Guercio realized the two non-jumping junior fields would be out of action on the mountain. She chose to blow “return to me” then galloped toward Mary’s Coop and the gate to Stony Creek Farm creek bottom.

Hounds, cast near the dump, began flagging and working diligently toward the Strawberry Patch. Veteran hound Nacho opened with young hounds Plato, Teresa and Jewel sustaining the pack chorus up the steep Dogwood Trail. First field kicked into a mad gallop up the trail into Tracy’s Woods, pass the trailer house and on toward Cal’s Pond, where the line faded.

Second field master Kendra Waldbusser and junior master Emily Webb (a Boston Mountain Pony Club member) stayed just behind the first field, galloping full out. Junior meet coordinator and third field master Diane Gooderl and junior master Gunner Harbinson rode stirrup to stirrup, leading the third field at a slower pace while enjoying the hound music and riding in open country—a new experience for many young riders.

At the Red Barn, Del Guercio paused for the annual group photos. Horses were steaming, parents beaming, siblings and friends envious and junior riders exuberant. Hounds seemed to realize their job was appreciated as they milled in and out of the ponies, horses and riders. After the camera whirl died out, Del Guercio hacked the riders to a Stony Creek pasture where they enjoyed an opportunity to practice jumping in the open over a post and rail and the “telephone” jump.

As in years past, junior members were invited to ride with Misty River staff. Field master Linda Brown rode with junior master Erin Quinn (a member of the Northwest Arkansas Hunter Jumper Association) while second field master Kendra Waldbusser mentored Emily Webb (Boston Mountain PC and NWAHJA member).

Young horseman Gunner Harbinson rode with third field master and junior meet coordinator Diane Gooderl. First whipper-in Sandy Hamm and junior whips Anna Zweig and Christy Zweig (Boston Mountain PC) thrilled to a viewing of the kennel coyote slinking back to his wooded home behind the farm buildings earlier in the day.

Whipper-in Al Perry galloped with junior whips Muriel Eckert and Jordan Payton (of the Rackensack Pony Club). Junior horsewoman Alex Holcroft rode back whip for Del Guercio. Other young equestrians rode with senior hunt members in the field.

“We had two nice runs, an excellent demonstration of good hound work, and opportunity to school horses over natural jumps,” said Del Guercio. “Our young riders are No. 1 on our ‘open invitation’ list.”

Each junior rider received a pen inscribed with Misty River Junior Meet 2007 as a memento of the day. Additionally, MRH subscribers and staff honored Del Guercio with the Centennial Commemorative Book and DVD as a token of their esteem and appreciation to the delight of the young riders, parents and their guests. A buffet of southern fried chicken, mashed potatoes and green beans with iced tea satiated riders and guests as their horses munched hay only yards away from the feast.
 
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