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So I've always wanted to try foxhunting..

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  • So I've always wanted to try foxhunting..

    For as long as I can remember, I've wanted to try foxhunting. The traditions of it, the chance to spend a day with my horse doing something so completely out of the norm for us, the hounds, etc. all just sound fantastic.

    Unfortunately, I cannot drive and my husband is not a horse person, so I figured hunting was out. However I now have a friend who did rode with a hunt somewhere on the east coast and she wants to go out now that she's in Texas, and she's willing to take me.

    So I'm here to read, learn and hopefully get ready to actually go out foxhunting sometime. I think I have butterflies in my stomach just thinking about it.
    Visit us at Bluebonnet Equine Humane Society - www.bluebonnetequine.org

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  • #2

    they have a couple of different map programs on that site, and you can go state by state and look at different hunts websites. Many of them have information there on etiquette, attire, etc that could be helpful to you. Of course, there are usually subtle differences from hunt to hunt, but that should at least get you started.
    "Perhaps the final test of anybody's love of dogs is their willingness to permit them to make a camping ground of the bed" -Henry T. Merwin


    • #3
      My daughter just recently went on her first hunt, it was a JR Invitational, had a blast. They used 2 different packs of dogs over a 3 hour period. In the end they found the fox... up at the kennel He was no dummy. Her but was sore for 2 days. Hope your first experience is just as thrilling.
      "They spend 11 months stuggling to live, and 25 years trying to die" my farrier

      "They are dangerous on both ends and crafty in the middle"


      • #4
        Do lots of trail riding first with lots of change of pace over many footing types. Walk, trot, canter, hand gallop, halt. The order of pace should be varied and your horse should halt and stand still for several minutes after any gait.

        Once your horse is used to trails then add a dog (hound) that is happy to go off the trail a bit and then pop out somewhere else along the trail. Your horse needs to know that the hounds are not a threat, even when they come careening out of the woods and brush. A horse that kicks hounds is not welcome in the hunt field.

        Make your trail rides longer and longer, until once a week or so you are able to ride at a hunt pace for however long your local hunt stays out. Some hunts stay out for 2 hours others up to 4-5 hours. You and your horse need to build up the physical and mental endurance to last.

        Ride with large groups. Get your horse used to the idea that he/she doesn't get to be first, that its ok to have a horse 3-4 feet behind. Move at pace in a large group. Make sure you have brakes and control even when riding with a large group. Get your horse to back off the trail so that the hunt or staff may pass safely by. Teach your horse how to reverse field. It is helpful if you can keep your horse's hind end tipped slightly away from the riders coming towards you during a reverse field. This will help keep your horse from kicking out.

        Teach your horse to tolerate spurs and or a crop. Your horse will most likely do something wrong and you will need to discipline them immediately and effectively. You may also need some incentive to jump a scary jump or cross water. You will be sorry when you don't have those. You can train your horse to tolerate those things. Been there, done that. Strongly consider using a standing or running martingale. Teach your horse to tolerate that as well. You'd be surprised that your dear docile baby can turn into a raving lunatic when the hunt starts.

        Make sure you can jump logs and other obstacles (under 2ft) comfortably. Make sure your horse will cross water politely. Stepping through water crossing carefully and slowly is safer than lurching over, especially if the footing is trappy. Make sure you can hold your 2 pt for at least 10-20 minutes. When you are out for that long you will be doing your horse a favor by getting off of his/her back as much as possible.

        If you jump and plan on going first flight, make sure your horse is able to jump the coops/walls/panels in your territory. Most will be 3'-3'6" coops, other places have 4' and some just jump the regular fence (4'6"). These jumps may be in tricky spots and have tricky footing at the base. You need a horse with a 5th leg and a sense of self preservation and bravery! Teach your horse to trot jumps, even if you have been cantering around. In our territory you sometimes will be jumping from a field into a wooded area with the trail on the edge of the field wood line. You jump, land, and then 1 stride later turn left or right to continue down the trail. This can also be the case if you are jumping out of a field that is along a road. You have 1 stride to effect a turn before being on the road surface. Teach your horse to hold up several strides from the person jumping in front of you. This allows you to make sure they made it over the jump and are out of your landing area. If the person falls off, you need to be able to have your horse NOT jump, even though the other riders are leaving you behind. Teach your horse to jump the jump even if the one in front has refused the fence.

        If at all possible, go out on a made field hunter for your first hunt!!! Watch, listen and learn. Bring home all those things and start working on making your horse into a field hunter. It is much safer for you, your horse and those that would be riding with you for you to ride a made horse first. You and your horse will enjoy the sport much more if you do it this way. It is very hard on the horse to have both be green beans in the hunt field on the first day. You could easily blow your horses mind with his/her first experience and ruin them to hunting. If a made horse is not available, then go and car follow or follow on foot. The hunt's secretary can be helpful in lining up the best fixture and someone else who follows on foot or in a car.

        I feel certain that you will enjoy hunting. Give your horse 6+ hunts before you decide that they will be a successful field hunter. If they are angels the first time out, be ware on the next few hunts. Some horses are so shocked by all the new things that they seem to be behaving, only to show their true colors after they have taken it all in. If they are raving lunatics the first few hunts, give them a chance to chill out.

        Happy Hunting and please report back after you've been out. We'd love to hear from you!!


        • #5
          Originally posted by cowgirljenn View Post
          So I'm here to read, learn and hopefully get ready to actually go out foxhunting sometime. I think I have butterflies in my stomach just thinking about it.
          You can do it! I'm planning to go on my first fox hunt in March with Hunter's Rest. It's a life long dream of mine too. I started by lurking here too, and I have to say Lesson13's desire to start after 13 lessons inspired me to just do it.
          Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans


          • #6
            Good for you! I hope that you have fun getting started in hunting and that you and your horse find that foxhunting is just the best thing that you do together!

            For some additional information about getting started you might try our website: http://www.metamorahunt.com/getting-started/


            • #7
              Congratulations on your decision to take action on your dream. Follow Jawa's advice, it will prepare you well. I went out on my first hunt in October with Hunter's rest and the CotH gang and I had a wonderful time. If you can arrange to hire and ride a made hunt horse, it makes all the difference. It allows you to learn and enjoy without worrying.

              I have found the hunt world to be wonderfullly welcoming, and I bet you will find it the same when you contact a hunt in Texas and ask about visiting (capping) with them.

              I think that the March CotH Hunt expedition at Hunter's Rest is full, but there's always the fall.....you could fly east and join the rest of us beginners in the third field!


              • #8
                yay cowgirl...

                another note...If you do not have to make it a specific "CoTH" weekend. Hunters Rest is a regualr B&B, so you can can schedule ahead with her go when your schedule permits!

                Tally ho!
                I love my OTTB! I get my dressage test done faster!


                • #9
                  Longacre Hunt near Conroe is friendly to beginners

                  Don't know how far you are from the Conroe/Dobbin area, but Longacre hunts in Dobbin a lot and they are pretty friendly to beginners. You can ride second flight and it is more like a trail ride than a true hunt. (First flight, however, is a hunt - be prepared to go fast if you choose first flight) There are western riders who go out with them even on formal hunts. They use western tack and ride second flight. Just make sure your horse is controllable in a group that walks, trots, and canters, will cross water, and is ok around dogs in case a hound or two pops out of the woods. Longacre has a website with all the contact info, just google them.


                  • #10
                    Ironically, I grew up in Texas (Houston) but have yet to hunt there, though I've hunted in probably 20 other states!

                    First pack in the state was the Chireno hounds, a trencher pack, I have no idea whether they are still going, they were never recognized but according to my uncle and cousins had a ton of fun. I'm guessing closest to you might be Independence hounds, but I suppose the biggest thing is, where does your friend want to hunt? Wanabe who posts here does hunt with Longacre I believe.

                    Go to the MFHA web site and be sure to watch the video on the home page! I also recommend that little bible by Wadsworth, 'Riding to Hounds in America,' short, sweet, to the point. Do by all means read up, ask questions, get prepared.

                    Consumer warning, though, it is a) VERY fun and b) highly addictive. Once you have been to Paris, your husband will have trouble keeping you on the farm...


                    • #11
                      Longacre is welcoming and I've heard Brazos Valley is very welcoming also, and closer to the OP.

                      Beverly I've love to have you come hunt with us. Heck, you can even stay at my house if you come visit.
                      Yes, I know how to spell. I'm using freespeling!



                      • #12
                        Originally posted by wanabe View Post
                        Longacre is welcoming and I've heard Brazos Valley is very welcoming also, and closer to the OP.

                        Beverly I've love to have you come hunt with us. Heck, you can even stay at my house if you come visit.
                        Hmmm... you know, I'm coming in mid Feb and again in mid March...do have lodging with family but....hmmm...


                        • #13
                          I've hunted with Longacre, and also Cloudline Hounds before moving to Utah.
                          Both were exceptional experiences, and very welcoming. Cloudline I miss in particular as they always made me feel like I was a part of their foxhunting family. The MFH encouraged guests and newbies, and usually had a safe hireling to put them on for their first experience. I really miss them.


                          • #14
                            Zugabe, I capped with Cloudline last Saturday. Susan Gentry, (MFH and Huntsman combined) really likes draft-Xs and put me on one that she said was 17.0 but it seemed more like 17.3 to me!

                            Beverly, come stay with us so we can hear about some of your foxhunting experiences! We're between the kennels and where we hunt. PM me if you decide to do this.
                            Last edited by altjaeger; Jan. 13, 2011, 09:43 AM.
                            Yes, I know how to spell. I'm using freespeling!



                            • #15
                              Zugabe, I capped with Cloudline last Saturday. Susan Gentry, (MFH and Huntsman combined) really likes draft-Xs and put me on one that she said was 17.0 but it seemed more like 17.3 to me!
                              Wanabe- Oh I'm green with envy. I miss Cloudline (and hunting!) so much. I'm thinking about going back in Feb.
                              Susan is a gem, and yes, she has tall horses...I actually bought one of her 17.1h horses 2 yrs ago - fabulous horse. From what I've heard this has been one of their best seasons yet.

                              PS: I might have to stuff myself in Beverley's suitcase and come with her...since we're both her in the state of no hunt.


                              • #16
                                Well, Wanabe and Zugabe, I am going down President's day weekend...Longacre's fixture card does not indicate a meet on that Saturday, but ya know, I think I need to hunt SOMEWHERE that day, at least by car if I can't scare up a horse!

                                PMs to follow later....