I'm so happy today and feel like I need to share it with the world.
I've been lucky enough to go walk hounds every week so far this year. It has become the highlight of my week. We walk for an hour or more down country lanes, skirt 'round plowed fields, and walk along trails in the woods. We stop every so often to practice packing up and other commands the huntsman wants to work on that day.
I give full credit to the walks for preventing the winter doldrums this year. It's gotten me out and about in nature even during the coldest, snowiest days this past winter. It cheers me up to see so many happy, athletic, springy hounds dancing around enjoying themselves. They race up to say Hi and off again to sniff something interesting. They never stray, they pack up at a simple command.
I'm learning their names, their personalities and a tiny bit about their breeding and bloodlines. We have one hound who has designated himself as the pack policeman by day and ladies man by night. :) We have an older, serious hound who appears to have never done a bad thing in his entire life. We have goofy hounds that frolic and cause trouble.
I can't wait for hunting season to start - I feel like knowing the hounds and their personalities will make the day so much more interesting. I will be able to see which bloodlines do what out there in different conditions.
I wonder, how many people walk out hounds? I'm one of the very few in our hunt that does. I know that some people hunt to ride or hunt in order to eat the breakfast after - I say any reason is a good reason to hunt! But if you haven't walked out hounds yet -- see if you can! Really... what could be better than good long walk in the country surrounded by 40 or so merry Hound dogs? :)
I envy you - would love to be able to walk hounds every day! I have to do this thing called "work." Maybe when I retire. Sigh.
For me, the start of the new season begins with hound walking. I love walking hounds. Love love love it.
It makes hunting so much more enjoyable. And I get a tear in my eye when I see a young hound speak and be honored.
JSwan, I am SO PROUD of you! You have really become a true foxhunter! I remember not all that many years ago when you were just starting to hunt, and you wondered if you would make it through a whole hunt on your horse who, IIRC, was pretty positive that foxhunting meant "Take bit in teeth; Run like HELL." Didn't he used to hate loading until he figured out that trailer = hunting? BTW didn't you get another horse after a couple of seasons?
I have followed your growth from newbie to seasoned foxhunter through your posts as you have become more and more educated. I've seen you become an impassioned (yet practical!) environmentalist who understands why foxhunting requires becoming a conservationalist as well as a true animal husbandry practitioner. I've watched you put together a hunting kit as nice as anyone which I know wasn't easy and required budgeting (and some judicious dieting) and become quite knowledgeable in the traditions and reasons therefore of hunting attire.
You've become quite reader of old foxhunting tombs and reference books. You and Rita Mae could discuss them for hours and I'm sure you could keep your end up!
I'm so glad you're walking out hounds. I envy you this very special glimpse into the natural beauty that is our VA. To learn hounds from Tommy Lee and Melvin is to be counted as one of life's greatest gifts. Be well and enjoy the Spring cycle of your Hunting Year.
Yes, and I have the medical bills to prove it!
You know, that horse is in his dotage and is still hell on wheels.
Have some health issues now so decided my next fox hunter was going to be really really short, fat and slow. Oh, and no greys or lots of chrome to keep clean.
Ended up with a 17.2h ISH. With lots of chrome.
But at least the coops look really really small now.
Walking hounds is one of the great pleasures of summer. Sunday afternoons are the best! Love seeing the puppies come into their own! As a side note, hope to see some of you at the Virginia Hound Show on May 29th!
I love the hounds!
As a farmer, Hunting was the best way for me to ride consistently. We are too darn busy in the summer for any consistent riding. This was my fourth season with a farmers' pack and for the previous three seasons, I rode with our small field.
This season, one of the staff said "you know, if you learned to whip hounds, it would helpful". so, this season, I was the Huntsman's "in the pocket" whip. The best part is learning the hounds..........I love their personalities. Knowing who is going to dart for the covert ahead of everyone, who is going to run in the middle all day long, who is going to lag behind when we are roading because they are a bit more shy and who is going to be honored consistently. Learning their voices is very rewarding as they are so very different. The first year entry took a while to get in the groove and for a while, he would give his excited "woop, woop, woop", head up, tail wagging, at every check. I thought it very cute and funny........the Huntsman thought he should be getting with the program.
My addiction to Hunting has come to revolve around an addiction to hounds. I'm excited for V's pups and to see if Q took at her breeding. I can't wait to see next year's new entries and to see how V, the late season entry for 2011 has changed. My whole Hunting perspective has changed and I love it even more than I did before I was so close to the hounds.
I love to sit next to the Huntsman and watch the hounds work the line down the edge of a stream. It has always made me emotional to see and hear the work. Now, I am a little less emotional, as I'm counting, looking to see if the perpetual laggers are keeping up or do they need some encouragement and being a second set of eyes for the Huntsman. The work is fun and very challenging. I can crack my whip and get a rapid reaction from the hounds.
My horse, Top Punch, loves the job of whipping hounds. He raced for 10 years before retiring in April of 2009 and being donated to CANTER, MidAtlatic, where he ended up at Jleegriffith's barn for retraining. He came to my farm a month after his last race and has been there ever since. There is no nicer horse on the face of the planet! He's been run into by 5 hounds at once and not twitched an ear. He sleeps at checks and can go off on his own without a sideways glance. He listens intently if the hounds are running and welcomes the opportunity to show everyone just how fast he can really go (which is very, very fast) when we need to be somewhere in a hurry. I love how he lowers his whole body, reaching with his neck and powering forward with his shoulders as we gallop in a straight line without waivering an inch. The straight gallop is one of my favorite characteristics of him, as it makes the job so much easier. When he first arrived at the farm, a puddle was cause for concern and he would go to great extremes to not get his feet wet. He has transformed into a trekking beast, leading others through streams and ditches, crashing through brush and remaining poised and workmanlike as we navigate briar patches.
I also learned the hounds are the Huntsman's children. He wants them to do well and be safe every time they leave the kennel. It's my job to notice their work and keep them safe.
Wait until you're out hunting and the voices start. Somebody got a line on something............mmmmmmmmmmm sounds a lot like your favourite "Jesse"......surely not, he's a new entry, right ?.........they all honour him, and they're on it..........the sound is incredible, thrashing through the woods............if only you could see................oh, wait they're heading towards the edge...........DAMN ! that's a huge coyote running for his life................and HERE THEY COME !...................look who's out front..............IT'S JESSE !!!!!!!!!! I loved that hound.
That was beautiful writing! You make me want to do it, too. I'm sorry that I didn't get to see you in action when you were in Va for the coth hunt. I hope that I get a chance to watch you and your home hunt, this Fall.
Your horse sounds wonderful and you have done a great job of teaching him his job.
My goal this summer is to try to get down to the kennels to do some hound walking.
I have been able to get down a time or two to help with leash training and several times to help with work days and to help/support with hunter paces.
The kennels are over an hour away, so it does make it hard to set aside that much time when there are so many other responsibilities.
That being said, my son is 9 years old now and I think he would enjoy the hound walking and the socializing!!
Love it too...
Our Huntsman says that some people hunt to be with their horses and some people hunt to be with the hounds... to be both is a gift.
I love the hound work and try to help out as much as possible. I would have been the person who loved to hunt to run with my horse but keeping my horse in the Huntsman's barn brought me to a whole different level of loving hunting.
We have 6 puppies that might possibly stay and hunt. I've been working with them since birth, was with the Huntsman on their first hound walk in the woods and really hope I get to see them hunt with a pack in a year or two...
What a great experience!
Beautiful writing here, all of you! I've a hankering to hunt, keep hounds as my companion dogs, and would love to move to working dogs.
Keep writing; keep telling stories-- you're lifting my soul just now!
Muhahahahahaha :lol::lol::lol: Did you dress in costume for the Hunt Ball? Just saw the pics in In and Around Horse Country. Looks like everyone had a great time.
Originally Posted by JSwan
Bitches. Both of you. And you know I say that with SO much love for both of you, but damn I am jealous. :lol:
Originally Posted by Kryswyn
Edited to say that I am just swooning with all your posts. So lovely.
You hunting folk over there are so different to those here! We get no-one - honestly no-one! - come to our kennels during the off-season (well actually very few, if any, during the season either!). All our pre-season hound work is done by my partner and myself. There is simply no interest from members to be involved with hounds, especially if there are no horses involved! In New Zealand it's pretty much unheard of for members to help with pre-season work, although in saying that, very few huntsmen over here do any work on foot with their hounds. My partner was seen as an oddity when he first started over here (he's from Ireland) cos he frequently got off his horse to help hounds, and does all his pre-season work on foot or on a bicycle. Would be great to have some of you folk over here!!! =)
I'm a lurker over here on this forum. But one of these days I will get my butt over to NZ ( its what 4 hour plane ride? lol ). Will have to get my riding up to speed but love dogs and walking! lol
Originally Posted by otterhound63
Well by all means let me know if you're coming over - we'd love ttohave you stay! SA is really only a stone's throw away =)
I love that about my 17hh OTTB. that lowering feeling is so awesome. The first time I really felt that was on a hunt..so much power and feeling "not in but really in control".. The first time my horse and I demonstrated that was at a beautiful early fall hunt. It was my second year as a hunt member, so without colors, a member with colors horse refused an in and out in front of me..and slowly loped down the hill while the rest of the 1st field galloped away through some very open fields. I finally felt it was unfair to "lope" so I asked permission to pass and after I did, my horse put his afterburners on! We had about 3/4 of a mile to catch up and i let him pick his pace. It was the smoothest ride, he lowered and stretched out and sprouted wings! he has a huge stride... we passed the land owner, who can no longer ride but was sitting in her car by the path that went between pond and up a berm (and down the berm to a nice coop). she later told me that it was a thrilling sight to see the hounds and riders pass, then me and my 4 legged rocket go flying by her..Horse's ears pricked, never loosing sight of the field...and while he powered up the berm to go to the coop, she said she was happy to see me sit up and my horse easily slow to an appropriate speed to jump the coop....I know my horse loves the hounds and will always let us know where they are....he's been known to nuzzle them during checks too..
Originally Posted by Benson
That's just plain awful. Your members are truly missing out. I hope Polydor makes it out there one day - that would be super.
Originally Posted by otterhound63
I missed walking out yesterday and felt out of joint all day.
Equibrit's post reminds me of the same thing I've seen, year after year. There is something so wonderful about seeing the gawky puppy, now fully grown, speak on a line and the pack honor him for the first time.
First time I saw that I teared up.
One of my favorite hounds is an American who is about ready to pop. She is going to have gorgeous puppies, and I plan on being there, come hell or high water, to see them grow up and hunt.
What a glorious, glorious sport.
bigbaytb - my horses don't mind the hounds at all - hounds can walk right under them. But one day, we're at a check and we're just sitting there minding our own business when a bunch of hounds become fascinated by my horse's tail. He's got a lovely tail, very thick and long. The hounds buried their noses in his tail and were sniffing; oblivious to anything else. The huntsman and Master were wondering what was going on - I looked behind me, was puzzled... and then I remembered what I'd done.
I'd bathed the horse the day before, but had run out of conditioner. I grabbed some Alberto VO5 from the bathroom.
Strawberry scented. The hounds loved it.
This season I actually got to hunt behind hounds I had helped bottle feed. That was really exciting. I was very happy when the hound that had been my favorite as a baby got out and started hunting really well this season.
I didn't get to go down and hunt nearly as much this season as I was raising my own litter of puppies and I really did miss seeing the hounds and getting to know the new puppies. I got involved in hunting from the hound angle, as that is my bigger interest. I breed and show dogs (sighthounds not scenthounds) and hunting is my chance to see function working dogs do the job they were bred to do.
I mostly wheel whip as I don't have my own horse and am still working on my riding.
I do have my own personal retired foxhound, the sire of my favorite hound. My foxhound did an excellent job of raising my puppies and they adore him. I recently took my male puppy to his first AKC show and he was a bit nervous under the tent. American Foxhounds happened to be several breeds before him, so I walked over and stood near the American special (I know his handler and owners) and my little guy seemed much happier once he saw the "Artful".