In our Dec. 23 issue, we profile a few “regular people” who defy hunting’s stereotypes and prove the sport is more about passion than purse. North Hills Hunt’s Breanna and David Kruger also put a midwestern accent on following hounds: They chase coyote across rural Nebraska and Iowa.
In addition to managing the kennels and maintaining their own staff horses, North Hills Hunt huntsman David Kruger and his wife, Breanna, each have full-time day jobs and support his custom hay business. Soon they’ll be adding one more job title: new parents, with a baby boy expected in mid-February.
Nebraska and Iowa might not be the first places people picture when they think of foxhunting, but North Hills’ camaraderie draws diehards from across the country to their destination fixtures. The long hunting weekends in Burwell, Nebraska, 200 miles west of Omaha, boast spectacular rugged scenery and a chance to trade tall boots for cowboy boots at evening social events.
David, 35, is the safety director for Washington County, Nebraska, and cuts hay on his family farm and surrounding properties as well as helping at harvest time. Breanna, 28, is the county payroll clerk. They live on the kennel property in Iowa and work together to cover all the bases in their busy daily and seasonal routines.
“We do morning horse and hound chores, then we go to our day jobs, then come home and walk hounds out, do chores again and anything else that needs done in the kennels,” says Breanna. “We ride in the evenings after work. It’s hard, between harvest and hay time, too, but we have member volunteers who help us out.”
The Krugers also find ways to control costs for themselves and for North Hills. “The way we make it work is we buy [off-track] Thoroughbreds, first of all because they’re economical, and because we love the Thoroughbred heart,” Breanna says. “We live on the hunt property and do all the chores; we make up our own horses. Dave actually donates all the hay to the hunt club just to help them, because we aren’t an incredibly high-end income club.
“I feel if you’re passionate about anything, you’ll find a way to make it work,” she adds.
With so many balls in the air already, how will the new addition impact their schedules? “We’re definitely going to change our lifestyle and cut back on other things, like hay season,” says Breanna, “but the hunt is still going to be No. 1, after the baby, of course.
“Hopefully we’ll be able to include the little guy and do as much as we can,” she adds. “Our hunt has so many car followers that they’re already fighting over who gets to take the baby in their vehicle at the hunts! That’s the great thing: Our hunt is already like a family.”
This is an excerpt from an article that appeared in the Dec. 23, 2019, issue of The Chronicle of the Horse as part of our Foxhunting issue.
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