Any of you who work full time have two hunt horses? How do you get/keep them both fit? Do you like having two horses or do you think that one is fine? I guess I'm asking if it is worth the trouble and expense?
I have always wanted to have two horses to hunt. I usually hunt Sat/Sunday and the occassional Wed when I take off work. Now my good horse is older, 16, and having some hock issues-ok with injections. The vet said well you'll have 2 to 6 more years-which is only common sense. So instantly I find this horse, sold by a friend who is very honest. I've seen the horse in the field, the price is very good. As we all know if you pass up the good deal, then when you *really* need something it's nowhere to be found and I'd be looking at every 3 legged, sorry, clodpole in 3 counties.
What do y'all think? What has your experience been? I'm not wealthy and couldn't just leave the horse with a trainer or anything.
How often are you able to ride during the work week?
How much riding does it take to keep your current horse and prospective horse fit?
If you can ride 3-4 work days, it could work. That gets each horse out 3 days a week, with at least one of those days as a hunting day.
When I had 2 horses that I was keeping fit, I would pony one and ride the other, ride horse A the next day, switch up the ride pony jobs the next day, ride horse B the next, ride horse A and then ride horse B for a short flat work session. I then had 2 days off I could use for weather interference or what not.
But all of that depends on whether you would enjoy it, or whether you would find it stressful.
It sure is nice when horse A pulls a shoe and you have a back up...But it sure is a pain when both are on the injured reserve list.
I had a good friend, who was an excellent rider, who loved to come trail riding with me. I was able to get some great fitness on both when that happened.
That's a good workout plan! I usually ride 5 days a week-though that's gotten cut into lately with just "stuff" weather included. BUT once daylight savings is gone I can't ride after work. I might get my lazy bottom up and ride before work for a while. OR maybe I can convince the husband to set up some lights. Once hunting gets going I do try to fit in *some* kind of other day to ride. My usual rate is-one day of hunting + 2 days of hacking, 2 days of hunting + 1 day of hacking, 3 days of hunting + 0 days of hacking.
I think it depends on how hard you hunt and what the baseline fitness of the horse is plus what the turnout situation is. Full time turnout and an athletic horse could mean that very little conditioning is required. Full stall board + a draft horse wanting to do A field on a 15 mile hunt isn't going to work.
When my mare was turned out at Painted Wing's farm she'd have match races with Lucy and get up and down the big hill a couple times a day. I had her on turnout for 4 months while I was in training and moving around, visited and hunted her and she was very fit and capable. Just as fit as if I'd been riding every day. That was winter... she did turn into a fat cow come summer time. Ideally I'd like to have at least 1-2 rides during the week just to keep their topline muscles working and their minds engaged and willing.
I've had two going from '77 or so to present. Admittedly not hunting as much from Utah, but when I hunted a minimum of two days a week particularly whipping in, well, you just need two, it's too much for one.
They were out in large pastures, group settings, at least half the day (or night, depending on season). So, once fit, they pretty much kept themselves fit, I might hack them lightly once or twice between their hunting days. More often, they would just get ridden on hunting days. Once fit, a horse will hold its fitness for a good month to 6 weeks, if they have that minimum 12 hours of turnout. 24/7 with shelter access is best.
Getting them fit, getting towards start of cubhunting, of course roading hounds was part of the program, but I'd ride each one 2-3 times a week, an hour or two of mostly trot sets. Ponying is also a good option.
When I wanted to get them more 'racing fit' for pair races in the spring, I'd schlepp to barn on cold winter nights, and gallop them around the perimeter of the pasture, close enough to fence to more or less use that as reference. Obviously the moon is your friend there, but even when pretty dark, horse can see fine, and of course knowing there are no holes in the familiar pasture is a good thing.
And excepting one that was killed by lightning at 14, they all hunted hard to ages 20, 23, 26 and 28.
And yes, I have two going still even though not hunting regularly. I'd quite sensibly gotten myself down to just one (plus a retiree, at the time). And then made a splurge buy. Because, well, a second horse for packing or the occasional guest is just a nice thing to have. And ironically I was poised to sell one last summer and be sensible- but my non-horsey hubby used the mare to practice for our riding safari last fall, and after she cheerfully packed him around to practice, well, apparently, no, we cannot sell her, he might want to ride her again in 5 years or so, maybe!
And I do work full time (that's what vacation days are for, is hunting). During cubhunting way back, when the meets were at 6:30 I was in the office by mid-morning.
I worked 5 days a week and had a son I helped stay on track getting homework done, so during the winter I was riding in the dark. I had flood lights on the house that have some light to the riding ring/pasture. But most of my riding was done around an adjacent field. W, T, C around the well travelled perimeter. You be surprised how well you can see in the dark once your eyes have had a chance to adjust.
I agree that having a second horse is nice, but while working it is tough to keep them both fit. I'm fortunate that my husband & I both ride, cause we live in the counrty with no one else around to ride with, and I can't stand to do circles in an arena. We also try to start out the season with them fit and riding them 2 - 3 times a week (counting cubbing/hunting). Ponying is a great way to get more than one ridden - it takes some getting used to, but our horses are actually calmer now when we pony because they gain confidence from having their buddy right there with them. In another month we will also run out out of daylight by the time we get home, but we are lucky to have mostly soft gravel roads to ride on and the horses see just fine in the dark. It's us people that need to get used to it ! So we put on a bunch of reflective gear and ride in the dark one night a week through most of the hunt season.
I'd pony one and ride the other. That's how entire strings of polo ponies are kept fit. Its boring as all get out, but I used to ride one and pony 3 or 4. We'd do X minutes of trotting and cantering one way then X minutes of trotting and cantering the other way. Each day I'd ride a different one. Each one got ridden about twice a week - often one of those times was just playing, but they all kept fit.
Thank you so much for your advice! Both these horses are TB's so indeed easy to get/keep fit. My older horse does not like other horses so he may be a pain with the pony thing but he can learn! I love the riding in the dark idea. I had a horse that was an angel about it whom I regularly rode in the dark on trails alone and he was always fine. The current horse is funny about it-usually he canters very reluctantly when it's dark (I have had his eyes thoroughly checked). But I could put some lights on the outside of the barn and ride there.
It sounds doable with a bit of effort! I'm psyched! Now to ride the horse and take him on hound exercise. I hope he'll work. Coincidentally I was present on his first hunt and he was an angel. Of course the guy that owns him is one of those "magic" riders-his whole family has the gift.
If you are working full time, You will have to budget your time between the two horses. I was fortunate to have a daughter who loved to ride so she would ride with me on the one sorrel mare and I rode the big grey Arabian. I was fortunate also to have them on my property. We usually got in 2 hours at a walk and trot and occasionally a canter. We were not in a hurry but gave the two plenty of Scare proofing and such. If you can budget your time between the two, then go for it. But weigh the circumstances before you jump into it.
We have two - both huntsman's horses. Pre-season I more often than not ride one, lead one, alternating who is ridden and who is led. That way it saves enormously on time. They are worked 5, maybe 6 days a week until hunting starts,then only on hunt days. We hunt twice a week, with the occasional 3rd hunt in a week. Both horses are ridden every hunt.
Ours live out full time so don't need exercising as such, in between hunts. I find the busiest part of the year is the 3 months before hunting starts, but the weather is usually great then so it's no hardship.
I have two beasts, one in full work and the other coming back into full work. What works for me is to get up at sparrows and ride a horse before work (starting in the pre-dawn, you soon develop very good night vision!), plus I allow for a ride one afternoon after work. On weekends, ride both.
Each horse gets five days a week of work (6-7 hours), and two days off. Ideally, I'd ride Horse A Wed - Fri ams, + weekend, and Horse B Fri pm, weekend, Mon - Tues ams. Given that sometimes life gets in the way, that gives me four afternoons a week for catch-up rides if I miss a session (or to put another session on).
The horse that is coming back into work used to get 10+ hours a week of work (13 days on, one day off) when she was my only horse and really, REALLY fit - but the work was all PM work and mostly hacking out. She's had a very long lay-off, though, and is older now. My youngster is only five - this way they both get a good solid week of work, and a nice break.
Plus, I work better myself when I've started the day on horseback!
I should mention that I work full time, no children. I start work at 8am, finish around 4 most days. Work is 30min drive away. Daylight hours in my part of Australia at the moment are 5.45 am - 6.45 pm. In summer, 5.30 - 7ish. Winter, 6.30 - 6ish.