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What to do?

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  • What to do?

    Dear All,

    So I have posted about bringing my horse along this year (and twice last year). I got lots of good advice from the group! I have had 3 good hunts and am thrilled. BUT tomorrow when there was a 3rd flight got rained out. There's one Wednesday, then nothing til Sunday the 19th, one that Wed and the next. I have a really hard time getting off from work on Wednesday. Of course. I asked for this Wed-no. So dammit!

    I don't want all this great progress to be lost. The horse did better but he is still wound up-sweat literally dripping on the ground from his belly. So the times there is no 3rd what? I do know an endurance rider through FB-maybe she would let me go on a training ride? Hack out alone? The one person I found around here to take lessons from moved. There is another hunt with a 3rd flight about an hour and a half away.

    Or just try 2nd. Though I think at least I'll try to go on all the 3rds I can in January and reassess later. What do y'all think?

    Here is a whine -I have joined this year as a social member (this is my long time hunt). Last year I joined as a full member and got to go twice-that's an expensive little season. I am grateful that the Masters let me join later to see if the horse was going to be ok. And since I've used up my 3 social member hunts I am going to pay up. But dang I wish I could hunt more in 3rd or dammit go on Wednesdays. Stupid work!

    Any ideas appreciated.


  • #2
    If you want the exercise and experience, try the endurance rider.

    If you want the hunting, try the hunt 1.5 hours away. It will be fun and might open up some further options.

    If you have some confidence in your horse, try second flight. Your horse might be happier if you are not holding it back to be in third. Put on a neck strap and use it if you feel insecure.

    Then there is the option of getting a reaaallly bad sore throat each Wednesday!
    "Good young horses are bred, but good advanced horses are trained" Sam Griffiths


    • #3
      Perhaps you can find other members of the local hunt who have clever ways of keeping their horses going during the off season or long breaks in hunting days. Hunt members who bring along hunt horses to sell or for clients?

      Is there a hunt Facebook or email distribution list where you could post your question?


      • #4
        I drive weekly 1.5 hours to the hunt --would go twice a week if the mid-week hunt wasn't at 4:00 PM which puts me driving home in the dark. When I started my young horse three years ago, I rode 3rd --but when there wasn't a 3rd, I rode to the back of 2nd --my way. If I had an issue, I dealt with it --but I also had a partner back there --an older (than me) rider who was doing the same thing --working with a new horse. I've been hunting for 55 years --no one says anything to those of us who stay out of the way and do the best we can with new horses. While one should not train on the hunt field, one can only do the best he or she can. The other thing I did was work the horse between hunts --he had Monday off (we hunt Sundays) then he WORKED TWTF and had a light work on Sat. That made a huge difference. I bought a well-trained horse, but systematically doing riding exercises with him (Cherry Hill's 101 Arena Exercises) for 30 min, then just flat out riding him 30 min more each day did a whopping lot of good. I also followed a set of DVD riding exercises --Riding With Confidence --to break up the monotony. We made huge progress --he was invited to first flight at the end of his second year, and we've been there ever since --although the last two hunts we put ourselves into second since the footing was really, really bad and my boy isn't shod.

        Although Riding With Confidence is western based DVD series --there's a lot of application to any kind of riding. There are lots of DVD series, so suggest picking one you like and following it ---unless you have a good instructor/trainer near by ( I can only get to an instructor, trainer in the summer).

        And no, I don't have an indoor arena. I rode and do ride daily outside in my pasture. I have a full size dressage ring and a small cc course, but don't use them in the winter (footing --sand is rock hard in the winter). Each day I put on my warm clothes and get on the horse.

        Happy hunting!


        • Original Poster

          All excellent ideas! When I first started hunting I drove around 150+ miles one way to hunt. I certainly can drive again. Honestly I’d like to go with the endurance rider just because they ride in some cool places and I’d like to do some endurance riding.

          Re riding between hunts I work in an office and have to leave at 7 and get home at 530-dark. But I have this year been getting up early to ride and it’s made a huge difference! I only get in about 20 min on the best day and some days only 5. It’s still made a big difference. I will look for Riding With Confidence-it sounds great.

          I will talk to some of the hunt folk to see about hanging back a bit. I am just hesitant to push this horse until I feel like he is a bit more comfortable-which May be in 4-5 more hunts. My goal is first flight and I think he will be there. He has an easy going personality. BUT new stuff seems to wind him up-and hunting in particular-shaking at the trailer, hard to tack up, not walking, looking all around with his head in the air. I don’t want to introduce more speed until I feel like he has settled down-I and I know y’all too have seen horses ruined by being flung into usually first flight before they were ready. Tho y’all I am no trainer or horse guru. Just a regular rider-I always say my goal is to be mediocre-haha.

          All this is good advice. Today I’ll contact the hunt that’s 1.5 hours away and ask if I can come visit.

          Thanks very much!



          • #6
            Hunting Fool --I have one more suggestion that I have never done myself, but others do. There is a gentleman member who is a terrific horseman. His hunter is aged. Anytime he can, he will ride another horse. There are riders who put their horses with him for a few hunts, a season, or just now and then ---because he is so good with horses --a kind man, who knows the hunt well and all the country (started hunting with his grandfather as a child) --the horses benefit greatly. But be cautious whom you let ride your horse --I have posted before about people who have borrowed my second flight horse who "said one thing and did another." ---

            Finally --(really) ---my young horse used to be anxious before hunts --before I ride him any time at all (here, there, anywhere) we do our "dance routine." It starts on the ground with a few in hand movements (forward, backward, left, right, --then a little slow lunging). If that's all good (takes about 10 min, I get on and continue the "dance" --we do trotted circles gradually extending the middle of the figure 8 to a canter, coming back to a trot at the curves. Right about then, regardless of how anxious he's been, his head drops, he takes a breath, and he has his mind in the bridle. Only then do we feel ready to ride out.

            If time is short, I still do everything, just fewer repetitions. The trainer I worked with said that doing the same thing every time you get on lets the horse know all is right with the world. You are not going to microwave him or feed him to a lion. You are going to ride, he can depend on that just as the in hand work was followed by the mounted circles. Anyway, that works for me.


            • Original Poster

              Foxglove I like all your ideas!!! And let me say my ass is on the horse because of what you said about letting other folk ride him. I am very, very picky about that. There is no one who is riding other people’s horses that I know of, that I would let ride my horse.

              I do have a short little ‘ritual’ that I use but I think having a longer one might be helpful for this little guy. He is improving but it obviously still seems scary to him and ritual can help with that-for people too. 😁



              • #8
                Old Dominion Hounds had a third field every time we go out (Tuesdays Thursdays Saturdays) and it is carefully choreographed to favor the most needy horse or rider. 😊
                * -- Virginia hunt country's best Bed-and-Breakfast-and-Barn.


                • #9
                  My heart hunt horse was so wound up his first three years I had to saddle him before loading up and driving between 1 1/2 and 2 1/2 hours. Didn't hurt him a bit and one day he just was the calmest guy. Hunted him 11 years. Also had to hunt him first flight before I felt ready and he did great. Sometimes moving them up just a bit gets them more relaxed because you are not having to hold them back as much. Just a couple of thoughts.


                  • Original Poster

                    Xeroxchick, I am happy to hear that success story! And Hunter's Rest-the 3rd flight rocks! It's good for a variety of reasons. We have several awesome 3rd flight leaders-but one of the Masters doesn't like 3rd. I disagree, but the Masters are the Masters. Oh and re: my post above-I don't think I am any kind of great rider! I just mean the people who do ride other folks horses that I know of at this time aren't people I trust with my horse.

                    Anyway, I was lying in bed drinking coffee Sunday, trying to think of something to do with the horse that day when I got a text from a friend to go on a trail ride! So yay.

                    She was on a steady horse (she'd told me she was taking her baby and I went anyway though I didn't like that-ha) but she decided that the baby horses wouldn't help each other. My horse was wound up as usual in the trailer and when I got him out-hard to tack up, etc. But once he realized there was no hunt he settled down and was just great (from my perspective). It was just a walk ride. My buddy's horse was having saddle issues and being very pokey and my horse walked out in front, no hesitation, no jigging. We went past cows-including a bull doing what bulls are paid to do, through a running stream (small), past huge farm machines. On the return circuit the buddy's horse perked up and walked in front-no issue from mine who decided that it was no big deal and walked along on a loose rein behind her. So I am really pleased-mainly because I was afraid that the jigging and hyper behavior would carry over everywhere. I feel like he will settle down with time! Xeroxhick-looking at your guy for inspiration!!!

                    Now I've got to contact the 1.5 away hunt to see if I can come.

                    Side note re: the buddy's horse and saddle stuff-she said the saddle she rode in seemed to make her horse uncomfortable and she bought a "cheap, ragged County from eBay" and hoped it would fit. I said she really needed to get a professional saddle fitter, especially if her horse was already having problems and sent her the name of a person several friends who are good horsemen have used. Back issues are awful!!!!



                    • #11
                      Round here, in soggy England, people travel their hunters tacked up. Saves a lot of excited horse problems at the meet.
                      "Good young horses are bred, but good advanced horses are trained" Sam Griffiths


                      • Original Poster

                        Willesdon, yeah a lot of folk do that here too. But my trailer isn't one of those big ones and a buddy of mine had a horse catch the edge of the saddle on the edge of the trailer unloading and broke the tree. It is a lot more convenient tho.

                        And from what I understand y'all still have a lot saddle fitters-so you can usually get a local person to fix your saddle pretty quickly. Where I live there's no one locally and it's much harder to get a saddle fitted.


                        • #13
                          Agreed that there is a risk of saddle damage but this can be minimized, even in a two-horse straight-load, by securing the stirrups/leathers and using either a saddle cover or cooler/sheet over the saddle. YMMV.

                          Good luck and happy hunting.


                          • Original Poster

                            Well y'all, it has rained like a Mother Hubbard here. Hunts cancelled-mostly the ones with a 3rd of course-ha. I am just now getting to go on another hunt tomorrow-any fingers or other appendages you'd care to cross much appreciated.

                            A thought on working a horse in the winter-I was riding around this morning, nice and cold here, 31deg. I never have much time and was just about to quit when little horse decides to do airs above the ground-nothing serious or I'd have fallen off-just lept into the air and kind of "dolphined". But of course then I had to do some more work-and fuss a bit-so he'd know that wasn't acceptable. Consequently I was 3 min late to work. DRAT. Keeping a horse going in the winter is *hard*!

                            Though in retrospect, I was just kind of futzing around. Maybe I should look at those 101 arena exercises and make him work a bit harder!


                            • #15
                              Huntin'Fool I hope you had a chance to go out and hunt.


                              • Original Poster

                                Well Jawa, I did not get to go. I woke up about 10 minutes before the alarm because my little dog was breathing oddly. I had to take her to the vet and she had pneumonia! As an aside-I think women are just hard wired to hear anything amiss with their babies-4 legged or 2 legged. I sleep like a rock usually. I have never heard of a dog getting pneumonia! But our huntsman said that he had dogs with pneumonia before.

                                BUT I did get to go Saturday, and y'all the little horse turned a corner! I am so so so pleased! I guess during the time off, stuff sunk in. He still jigged a bit-but lots and lots of walking, and trotting when the others trotted rather than a canter. He stood at all the checks-a few times he had to walk in a circle-but it was only walk. Before he wouldn't walk at all and we had to do trot circles. Third flight did a trot/canter when the hounds found nearby and he cantered along just fine, and even better stopped fine. I feel like we can go when a guest hunt comes in 2 weeks that will be more horses and more exciting, but I feel like he can handle it.

                                Thanks as always for the advice and encouragement!



                                • #17
                                  I'm sorry to hear about your dog. I do hope that it is recovering well.

                                  I'm glad that your horse seems to be figuring out what to do.

                                  Happy Hunting!!


                                  • Original Poster

                                    Thank you so much, Jawa! And the little dog is better :-) Click image for larger version

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