I would LOVE to try foxhunting this season but I only have one horse I think could possibly be suitable for it. I heard you never know for sure if a horse will love hunting until you try it, but I'm sure there's a few certain characteristics all hunt horses posses. Could you guys possibly let me know if my horse could possibly go on one and, er, survive? I'll probably hilltop for a while though.
My horse is a 12 year old OTTB, 15.3hh and the typical lean TB build. Generally, on his good days, he is laid back and goes in spurs. He does have his days though where he can be very excitable, sensitive, and prone to "fits" because of so much energy. He isn't very spooky, he'll occassionally look at something but it's not usually a big deal. We currently do hunters in shows, and we've schooled 2'9", however he has plenty of jump and can go higher, he just never has with a rider. He's always been good in company- no biting or kicking. He's been on about 10 trail rides in his life, all with me, and has gotten more surefooted each time. He's crossed water behind other horses and jumped small 2' logs on trails with no problems, but nothing higher. The biggest group we've trail ridden with was a group of 5, and he did get a bit excited when cantering with horses in front of him out of sight, and behind him out of sight, which may be a problem when hunting. Also, after fences he takes at a quicker pace, he tries to buck. He's gotten better, but it's still there. Another issue is his hard mouth. He's gotten better about it, and I ride him in a slow twist D ring at home. We showed once in a corkscrew D ring which helped ALOT and he didn't buck once, so maybe that would be a good bit to use for out in the open?
Thanks guys, I'd love any tips/suggestions on going for the first time, and how to make it a better experience for both me and my horse.
As a two-time hilltopper ( ) I found that you can be very strategic about positioning yourself to "protect" your horse. For example, we were with 2nd flight for a while, and then came to a point where 2nd flight was going to head off to the right at a canter, and hilltoppers were going to remain standing. I stopped on left side of the hilltoppers, so when 2nd flight headed away, my horse was "buffered" by the rest of the group and not interested in joining the faster group.
On the other hand sometimes there's no hope - one time I was with the six other hilltoppers - three of us on green-to-hunting horses. We were in the middle of an open field when all of a sudden the coyote, the hounds and first flight came out of the bottom of the field flat out and went right by us, a few horses even went by us on our other side.
That was exciting!! Two of us were basically cantering in place, trying to keep our horses from joining in the "stampede".
I've done lots of trail riding in groups with exercises for separating and passing, etc., but nothing quite prepares you for that!!!!
I agree with Equibrit. Most hunts are either in or approaching their formal season. Hunts are faster, longer, and the weather colder (= fresher horses).
If I were you, I would find a hunt to welcome you roading next summer. Go roading, then cubbing and by then, you should know if your horse is going to be ok in the hunt environment.
I'm only in my second season of foxhunting, so I am by no means an expert, but I think any sound horse that is good with hounds and obedient can foxhunt.
I started cubbing last year, in August, with my mare. She took to it well and by the end of the season we were riding with the 2nd field. This season, we have ridden in first field on every hunt and are both loving every minute of it.
Start slow, don't overwhelm you or your mount and in time you will know if you have a field hunter under you.
Thank you all. Could you please explain what roading is though? Sorry, I'm not an expert with foxhunting. Also, when does cubbing typically start? I know it's in early fall, so does that mean like in September? And when does it end? Thanks again.
Roading is an exercise activity with the hounds. Not all hunts allow non-staff to participate. However, you could check with the secretary.
Cubbing typically starts around Labor Day depending upon the part of the country. We start formal season around Nov 1 and hunt through the end of March.
I would agree with others that unless a hunt has a third flight going, it would be hard to jump in now. Our second flight/hilltopping field is typically covering ten miles or so and has been for two months. Also, the speeds are getting a bit higher now also. I would dare say it is quite a bit faster than your group canter.
Definitely, find the hunt trail rides in your area in the spring and summer then start working your way in. We're all friendly, Equibrit withstanding .
I think it really depends on the hunt. Our hunt only goes out for a maximum of 2 hours at the peak of the season. We don't have hill-toppers, just a 2nd field. There are frequent rest stops with the 2nd field and more trotting than cantering. Almost any horse should be able to handle this. Check on conditions at the hunt you're interested in. We have people bringing horses in all during the season with no problems in 2nd field. The only problems we have with new horses are in 1st field (usually because they don't have good brakes). Occasionally, a horse can't handle the excitement and bucks off its rider.
I would not discourage someone from hunting this season. First, if there are several hunts in your vicinity, find out which might be the most newbie-friendly. Individual fixtures also differ in their suitability. I would also find a quiet, reliable buddy to go with (preferably someone who knows the territory) and realize that if your horse has enough after 1.5 to 2 hours, you may just want to call it quits for that day and go in.
I have started several horses mid-season, and find that if you just use a little common sense, everything can go just fine...