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Question about Hilltopping

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  • Question about Hilltopping

    Hi, all.
    I am fortunate enough to now be taking lessons at a barn run by a hunt club member. I mentioned yesterday that I would be interested in attempting a hunt sometime (perhaps a hunter pace would be a better first outing?) when I felt a bit braver on my lesson horse. The lesson horse has as much experience hunting as I do - none
    My instructor said that hilltopping was more for green riders on experienced horses, rather than green riders on green horses. Makes sense

    My questions: does your hunt agree with that philosophy of hilltopping?
    And, is it likely that hunt club members would be willing to lend an experienced hunter to a green rider for such a first-time outing?

    I'm looking forward to working on this experience as a goal for my lessons - thanks for any responses.

  • #2
    Your friend the Hunt member is giving you excellent advice. It's wonderful that you have an interest in getting out hunting, but it is most sensible that you make your first efforts on an experienced horse.

    I would think that every hunt, including ours, wants new riders to have a safe, positive first experience. Have your ever heard the old saying "Green + Green= Black & Blue"? This saying really rings true with fox hunting. Do yourself a favor, set yourself up for success and find an experienced mount for your first try at hunting.

    Metamora Hunt


    • #3
      Hotspur gives great advice, as well. And- not only should riders new to hunting have a great first experience, so should horses new to hunting. Either wait til you are far more comfortable with the sport before taking your horse out for the first time or employ a seasoned foxhunter to take him/ her out first on your behalf.


      • #4
        You should check and see if any hunt members lease out hunters for the day. It usually runs about $100.


        • #5
          Just how green a rider are you? A really green rider on even an experienced horse might be too much of an experience.
          Yes, I know how to spell. I'm using freespeling!



          • #6
            See if you could car follow with someone in the know. This would let you see some of what happens so you can better gauge how "good" a rider you need to be.

            If, after car following, you think you can manage with that hunts hilltopping group then hiring a "made" hunt horse for your first time out would be the best way to go.

            Each hunt has a different pace and territory, so it's hard to tell you how well you'll need to know how to ride. I've been with some hunts where they have groups that mainly walk and trot, where others walk, trot, canter, and have to deal with some pretty scary creek crossings.

            The object is to have fun and to live to hunt another day.


            • #7
              From your post I'm inferring you are a novice rider. And the lesson horse is a quiet, kind, older horse. That is not a field hunter.

              If you are a real novice and the horse is just a lovely lesson horse, I think you might be setting yourself up for failure. And no one wants that to happen.

              Like others have written, car following is a great way to see the action and get a feel for what you are in for. Or, if your instructor thinks you are ready to hilltop, a livery horse will give you a safe ride.

              Each club is different. Some hilltopping groups are more like second fields. They keep up with the field, and even ride harder because they have to race to find a gate, go through, and then race to catch up. Other hunts will walk trot canter, or walk trot canter gallop, just taking a different line. Some hunts have third fields, which walk trot, or walk trot canter to vantage points.

              For the novice rider on a green field hunter, you may find that the quiet, kind, bombproof horse becomes a fiery little racehorse. Really. The time to discover his alternate personality is not in a field of 30 galloping horses on a cold frosty morn.

              Since your instructor hunts, she no doubt knows the territory, the different clubs near you,and if she thinks you are ready, can help you find a livery.

              I hope you do get out, have a wonderful time, drop out of society and become a huntin' fool!!!!
              Last edited by JSwan; Aug. 12, 2011, 08:43 PM. Reason: Typos
              Brothers and sisters, I bid you beware
              Of giving your heart to a dog to tear.
              -Rudyard Kipling


              • #8
                Where are you located?
                Perhaps you'd be interested in the second annual Chronicle of the Horse chatroom hunting weekend/s here in Virginia? They are designed particularly with newbie foxhunters in mind!
                Granted, that said, indeed one's riding has to be up to a certain level before even that (third field, saintly hirelings, careful attentive leadership) is safe, but we involved in this expansion-project here in Virginia have that as a sole purpose in mind - to safely and lovingly introduce newbie (and re-introduce veteran) riders to the unique joys of the foxhunting field.
                Contact me directly if you want more!
                * www.huntersrest.net -- Virginia hunt country's best Bed-and-Breakfast-and-Barn.


                • #9
                  Glad you chimed in, HR. i was going to suggest the OP contact you, but I'm so enthusiatic about introducing newbies to hunting through you that I'm afraid I'll look as though I'm on the payroll.

                  But seriously, OP, if you've got the necessary basics to come out, the Coth hunt at Hunter's Rest is truly a bucket list experience.


                  • #10
                    Come to our coth hunts! We love to nurture newbies, and watch their eyes light up and the ear to ear grins.

                    There are the clinic lessons to help you know your made hunter, and we all help you. Then there are the parties, outings, shopping and other fun surprises. You will be making friends who understand what you are doing and have lots of support. You will hear the behind the scenes stories and learn about the hounds and the reasons that we hunt the way we do. It is breathtakingly beautiful country, with long views of the mountains. We can see the fox outwit the hounds and the strategy he uses.
                    Intermediate Riding Skills


                    • #11
                      Chaserider - absolutely contact Betsy at HR. She will make sure that you have a good first experience. I have ridden for many years, but was hesitant to try hunting since I've grown more timid over the years. I felt that Betsy's knowledge of horses and hunting combined with her ability to teach, helped me relax and to have a safe enjoyable ride. Set yourself up for a memorable experience by riding a made hunter with a competent leader.


                      • Original Poster

                        Thank you each and every one of you! You all make solid, sensible suggestions that I will take to heart.
                        I'm middle-aged and have been riding - off and on - all my life (mostly trailriding) and have now found - since I'm riding an OTTB - that I know nothing! It's easy to do a buckle ride on a laid-back quarter-horse. This! This is a whole new ballgame
                        I think the suggestion to lease an experienced hunter from a club member is a great idea. I will ask my instructor if that's a possibility.
                        And, sadly, I am NOT in Virginia. But here in central Ohio I know members of the Rocky Fork and Miami Valley hunts and they are really wonderful folk. I will follow up with them.
                        Thank you again for your encouraging replies. More suggestions are welcome!


                        • #13
                          10 of my 12 hirelings are OTTB's. There is no finer foxhunter - or any sporthorse sport for that matter! No reason to consider that a thoroughbred horse has any right to be more or less obedient/kind/manageable than any other horse!
                          * www.huntersrest.net -- Virginia hunt country's best Bed-and-Breakfast-and-Barn.


                          • #14
                            Plus, they all go on the buckle. Don't give your guy a pass on that!
                            * www.huntersrest.net -- Virginia hunt country's best Bed-and-Breakfast-and-Barn.


                            • #15
                              There has been alot of good advice given here. Tb's can be very well behaved and go on the buckle at that. My Tb mare(former show hunter/never raced) went to her first hunt wearing "gasp" a hackamore. We apparently displayed good enough manners, as we were asked to ride with one of the martiarchs of the hunt club. Hope you are successful in your endeavor to try hunting.


                              • #16

                                an experienced hunt horse or
                                a calm horse you have a lot of experience on.
                                [we boarded across from a public park with event cources]
                                http://www.qpee.org/docs/home.html I just did novice jumps

                                my first hunt [over 20 years ago] was the latter choice
                                and it was early cubbing thus not real fast
                                it was however, the "pipeline", trappy coops in a pipeline easement
                                through a series of cow pastures. WOW what a rush. I was hooked!

                                it was, of the end of my second hunt [with a too loose girth]
                                that stories are still told. horses can loose a bit of water weight
                                even hilltopping, you may want to take the girth up a notch mid ride
                                Last edited by armandh; Aug. 22, 2011, 11:48 AM.
                                more hay, less grain