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Second Season! After a really abreviated first season

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  • Second Season! After a really abreviated first season

    Dear All,

    I took my little OTTB on hound exercise last year and on two hunts. I got lots of really good advice and encouragement from the group! Unfortunately our hunt had very few 3rd flights offered during the year-and those few seemed to regularly either be rained out or on a day when I couldn't go because of work.

    Basically we went on 10 hound exercises and 2 hunts. He was good on the hunts-but never calmed down-head up, I could feel he was tense, had to trot in a circle at checks by the end of the hunt, etc. I am so pleased he never did anything bad, but really disappointed I didn't get to take him out more. I felt that the extra speed of 2nd flight would wind him up further.

    He had an eye issue in the Spring. It's cleared up but somehow the season just snuck up on me! I was going to go on so many trails, lessons, etc. and not one thing!!!! I have ridden around in my pasture and ring and that's about it.

    Now it's hound exercise again-I guess I'm gonna take him this Saturday. But last year I had 2 lessons and 2 trail rides before hound exercise started and this year-nothing! He was good on hound exercise and much more relaxed than he was hunting. I think all the hoorah and noise of course affected him. But I also did wonder if he thought hound exercise was what we did with those dogs and it made hunting worse not better?

    So words of encouragement appreciated!!!!

    And re: hunting, if there aren't many 3rd flights again? Take him 2nd? Just wait? I do think at least the first 3 or 4 have to be 3rd.

    Thanks for any advice!

    Huntin' Fool

  • #2
    His lack of fitness may work in your favor. I'd take him second. By the end he may be so tired that standing still sounds like a fabulous idea and he learns to conserve some energy.
    Equestrian and Sporting Oil Paintings
    Roxy 2001 APHA, Al Amir 2005 OTTB,
    Ten Purposes 2009 OTTB


    • Original Poster

      Good point, Gypsymare! So what do you think about bit? He has a really soft mouth, I ride in a French link. I've taken him out in the French link and so far so good-but I do like to have a reserve. I own a French link gag, I could ride with 2 reins?


      • #4
        Originally posted by gypsymare View Post
        His lack of fitness may work in your favor. I'd take him second. By the end he may be so tired that standing still sounds like a fabulous idea and he learns to conserve some energy.
        Getting really tired during a hunt was an eye opener for my OTTB. It took about 4 hours but he was so relieved to have the chance to rest that he was quiet at that check, and going forward he learned to stand and relax.
        Equine Ink - My soapbox for equestrian writings & reviews.
        EquestrianHow2 - Operating instructions for your horse.


        • #5
          I think at this point you can only work with what you have --give it a go --take him and do the best you can. Of course, should you feel unsafe, have a way to get back to the hunt club that doesn't interfere with the hunt. Although not a member of staff, I have been asked to take a rider back who had equipment or horse or health issues on the field. I don't mind --gives my horse a chance to practice being away from the group. Second suggestion --ear plugs. My guy is a former rodeo horse (picked up bull/bronc riders) and was used to having ear plugs in to dampen the sounds (screams?). I use them when I hunt. Seems to keep him focused. He's good with out them, but better with them. When people notice he wears them (two foam plugs tied together with a black cord and banded into his forelock), I tell them they are his blue-tooth speakers and I keep his Ipad with his playlist in my saddle pad pocket (that's where his treats are.) Usually I'm then asked what's on his play list . . . But anyway --FYI it took my former rodeo horse three sseaons to move from third flight to first, although he was invited up after one, I didn't think he was ready. And he's a rock solid QH. They learn at their own pace. I still have occasional (fewer and fewer) issues with his responses to hounds (thinks they are calves and he should cut/sort them). He's learning to ignore them. He's a dandy at pony-ing other horses though. Knows his job.


          • #6
            Before bitting spout hunting, I'd ride at home with the step up in bitting that you think might work. You may find that he REALLY resents the extra, and out in the hunt field with all that is going on is not the place to find out he doesn't like the action of the bit.

            If you have someone who can babysit you in 2nd flight I'd go. If it's just too much pace for his brain, the by all means go back in (with permission) and try again another day.

            I'm not sure how your hound exercise works. For my club, the first few times is a bit slower and not as long of a distance. As the week (s) go by, the pace increases as well as the distance, but they also work on teaching the young hounds to hang out at a particular place. We never get to a cantering pace on hound exercise, but there are moments of walk, trot and standing at a check. These are all great opportunities to practice the skills he will need in the hunt field. I'd go to as many hound exercises as you can. The other thing you may be able to do is find a horse for him to bond with. There are certain horses that send out a calming vibe to all around them. That's who you'd like to follow.


            • Original Poster

              Jawa thanks for the advice!!!! I will indeed try him with that bit at home first!!!

              BUT y’all I took him on hound exercise and he was great! I could tell pretty quickly that he remembered last year. No spooks, stayed behind the other two folk in the ‘field’ with no fuss. Sometimes we cantered to catch up but never tried to run off. And when one of our Masters who was out said she was leaving early I said I’d go with her (like 20 min early) and he turned from the hounds and 4 other horses and walked on back with no fuss at all. I was really pleased!

              But last year he was much calmer about hound exercise than hunting. And I anticipate he will be this year as well; however, if he will continue to be good and not throw his Mama, I will be just thrilled.

              I just hope we have 3rd flight more often. At least initially.

              Again thank ani you all for the advice and encouragement! It helps a lot!!!!

              Best regards,

              o and I love the ‘playlist’ I’m definitely using that!!! And trying the earplugs.


              • Original Poster

                O and our hound exercise is pretty much 1 to one and a half hours of fast trot with a stand still at the end, then walk a small bit home.


                • #9
                  Thanks for the posts guys.


                  • #10
                    I might try something else with leverage before I went to a gag, personally. I ride my mare in a french link at home and hunt her in a snaffle kimberwick. Got cocky this season and thought maybe I could just use the french link, but she figured that out pretty quickly.

                    I like the kimberwick because the leverage is there if I need it, but I can ride on the buckle when I don't. Mine has slots but not hooks, which softens it a little.


                    • Original Poster

                      Ecileh, I totally agree about the snaffle rein. I would use the gag with 2 reins-I like the 2 rein thing and have used it before. A trainer I had said 2 reins are hard, and you'll be fine in a French link-buuuutttt as we all know-you're fine til you aren't. My retired boy I rode in a Pelham with 2 reins and realized after about 1/2 a season (this was 2nd flight after his full season in 3rd) that I hadn't used the Pelham rein. I had to have a running martingale though. The couple of times, much later, I tried without it-as you say, he figured it out immediately.