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So tempting - first hunt- report pt 13, question pt 16, btw

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  • So tempting - first hunt- report pt 13, question pt 16, btw

    I am so torn - at last moment's notice a friend who caps with a nearby hunt suggested I should come along ... tomorrow! I am so excited at the idea (couldn't sleep last night!) but I am so unprepared equipment-wise. I only have a wintec saddle...I don't own a jacket or nice shirt...I have a pair of black boots but they don't quite fit right and will probably leave me bleeding...

    Fitness and training-wise we are decently prepared - we ride 7-10 miles several days a week and have ridden in some company (4-6 horses) and ridden several hunter-paces. We don't jump, but it sounds like that isn't an issue if I go with the hilltoppers anyway.

    Should I sacrifice a good part of my work day trying to pull together the gear I need and give it a go? Or just start making plans to be prepared for next year? By next year I would also have a trailer of my own, so would be more flexible about transporting myself to events without having to depend on a friend who happens to be going.

    My friend assured me it is not super formal this time of year, especially on a weekday, but I would need to organize some quick purchases or loans today if I were to try.

    Sigh. What to do???
    Last edited by twofatponies; Sep. 9, 2008, 08:58 PM.

  • #2

    Don't worry about adding equipment or clothing. As your friend says, it is informal early-on and mid-week.

    Just curious, how does "hilltopping" differ from 2nd flight?
    Yes, I know how to spell. I'm using freespeling!



    • #3
      Its not everyday that you will get an opportunity to go hunting. It really is an experience everyone should have at one point in their lifetime.

      I'd vote get what you need to together pronto so you can go! Do you know any dressage or event riders that you can borrow a coat and stock from? For a shirt a plain white turtleneck or any white mock neck shirt (like a dressage show shirt) would work and know one would be the wiser with a stock tie on. For boots? Do you have neat and clean half chaps? Can you borrow boots by chance?

      I wouldn't worry about the wintec or going out and buying equipment. Surely there must be someone you could borrow stuff from?


      • #4
        Originally posted by wanabe View Post

        Don't worry about adding equipment or clothing. As your friend says, it is informal early-on and mid-week.

        Just curious, how does "hilltopping" differ from 2nd flight?
        They don't really differ in some hunts. Larger hunts might have 1st, 2nd flight and then hilltoppers. 2nd flight might consist of pick/choose jumpers while hilltoppers are solely flats and travel at a slower pace. Some hunts 2nd flight is considered "hilltoppers". The hunt I cap with the 2nd flight is basically hilltoppers but we pick/choose jumps too.


        • Original Poster

          Thanks for the encouragement! I have some calls to friends to see if I can borrow a few things. If it all comes together in a reasonable amount of time I'll give it a shot! Otherwise I'm sure I'll have another chance yet.


          • #6
            Go for it

            Your friend will know what is appropriate for weekdays. The most important thing is that you are comfortable so my biggest worry from what you describe is your boots. You'll probably be on your horse a good long time.
            -Painted Wings

            Set youself apart from the crowd, ride a paint horse, you're sure to be spotted


            • Original Poster

              Originally posted by Painted Wings View Post
              Your friend will know what is appropriate for weekdays. The most important thing is that you are comfortable so my biggest worry from what you describe is your boots. You'll probably be on your horse a good long time.
              Ah, worst case I bleed a bit, right?

              The foot part fits great - the leg part is just a touch large, and they are not well broken in. With extra socks and some heel lifts inside I think I'll survive. Otherwise it's my paddock boots and half chaps. Though maybe that would be okay if I polished the crap out of them? I'll ask when I get ahold of the Master. I found a jacket and blouse and whatnot. Weee!


              • #8
                Cool, another convert I'm sure

                We want a full report!

                We don't start until the 20th. I'm chomping at the bit. At this point I might even be termed a puller. I already have a guest that wants to come hunt with me. Cant' wait.
                -Painted Wings

                Set youself apart from the crowd, ride a paint horse, you're sure to be spotted


                • #9

                  Goodness, At this time of year we are "informal". We wear polo shirts with riding pants, belt, black helmet. Even chaps are okay while we are cubbing. I ride in a wintec year round. It is the only saddle I own for this horse. He is 4 and I will not invest in a nice saddle that won't fit next year.
                  It is not the same hunting when you hunt this early because the focus is on training the hounds. But, it is a great time to ride in your first hunt because you get to see more.
                  Have fun!


                  • #10

                    Go, go, go, go, go, go go and don't overthink it. Just do it; be adventurous! Have fun! Go with the attitude that you're GONNA have fun, keep smiling and never letem see ya sweat! Lifes too short to miss it! Just go with it; allow yourself & horsie to be nervous and so what!! All, I repeat, ALL of us had to have our first hunt sometime!! We all survived!! Laugh, enjoy it all, smile, talk to people, watch, listen.
                    Don't forget a hunt report for us!!
                    How about we Cothers give ya a money back guarantee?!!


                    • Original Poster

                      Thanks for all the advice and enthusiasm! I spoke the the Master (Mistress?) of the 2nd flight, and she said it's the most fun ever on horseback. She seems very kind and helpful. We found all the things we needed (it's New England, they tend towards the formal!) and I even have a real stock tie all ironed and ready to go and have padded up my boots and am wearing them in the house this evening to make sure they are as comfortable as possible.

                      I will give a report!

                      We hunter-paced two weeks ago on the same land (or parts of it) so it is not going to be unfamiliar to my horse.

                      Fingers crossed!


                      • #12
                        Go and have a blast!! And make sure you report back to us!!


                        • Original Poster

                          Okay, that was fun! Wow!

                          So here's my report: please forgive my lack of correct terminology!

                          So I woke up at 2, 3, 4, and 5 am, afraid I'd overslept my alarm. Had everything laid out and ready to go, horse was thankfully quite clean already, managed to get my stock tie knotted close to properly (practiced last night).

                          Hacked over, found my friend, introduced myself around, etc. Everyone was very welcoming, and I was assigned to buddy up with one of the secretaries in 2nd flight.

                          Suddenly they opened a trailer and the hounds poured out among us. My dear mare stared and danced a bit, but thank God didn't do react badly (I didn't think she would, but I couldn't be sure as it was our first experience!).

                          Then we were off through the farm. The hounds quickly ran into a series of corn fields, and we were off at a canter. Then waiting, then off again, then told to go down to the bottom of the field in case the coyote came out of the corn down there. Then the hounds came tearing out of that corn field and into another, and off we ran again. Then some more waiting, then down into the woods. The sound of the hounds and horn really is quite thrilling - a very primal sort of chill-inducing thrill!

                          At some point after a bit of this mad dashing around we intersected with the hilltoppers - I hadn't realized there was a hilltopping group, too - apparently it depends on who shows up on a given day - and several 2nd flight people peeled off to join the hilltoppers, and I decided to take a break and do the same, as my mare and I were both a bit winded and over-excited (though she was not being disobedient at all - just a little worked up).

                          That was just the thing - so with the hilltoppers (and my buddy the secretary, who kindly stayed with me in the slower group) we ended up walking and trotting deep into the woods and down into a valley, and a couple of times got glimpses of the hounds, and some people saw the coyote, but I didn't.

                          Then, against forecast, there was a clap of thunder and rain poured down! We stayed dry under the trees, but we couldn't hear the hounds anymore! We worked our way along the river, which was challenging footing - lots of mud and brambles and low branches. I got tangled up at one point and could hardly get off the trail in time as some staff came cantering by going the other way. I got scolded and some tips on better technique for that maneuver, and was more careful to have a plan when we stopped in other cramped areas.

                          After some more time hacking around in the woods we met another rider who said the pack had split, and some hounds were lost, but the main group of hounds was up above us being brought back to the start, so we headed up out of the woods and valley at a canter (muddy! slick!) and back through several long fields where we caught up with the hounds and some other riders, and then walked and jogged back to the start. Someone passed a flask, which I belatedly realized probably has an etiquette for properly drinking from, but I don't know what, and no one said anything...

                          So I had, I think, the perfect taste of foxhunting - a bit of chaos, a bit of excitement, some excellent exploring - plus I got to get soaked to the skin and met lots of wonderful, friendly folks. I was very proud of my mare for being so gallant and brave and polite in so much company and such new circumstances. She got a big handful of cookies when we got home.

                          I would do it again in a heartbeat!


                          • #14
                            Thanks for a great report

                            Sounds like you have drunk the koolaide and are a full convert.

                            Your mare sounds great.

                            If you have a hunt close enough to hack to you are very lucky.
                            -Painted Wings

                            Set youself apart from the crowd, ride a paint horse, you're sure to be spotted


                            • #15
                              Thank you so much for sharing!


                              • Original Poster

                                Just one question - do many hunts use tracking collars on the hounds? This was a small territory, with some major roads a few miles distant and some adjacent farms off-limits to the hunt, but I thought it was pretty funny to see the little antenna sticking up off each hound's collar! There was a guy in a vehicle who drove around on high ground and nearby roads with a receiver and radio, to help locate any lost hounds. Typical or rare?


                                • #17
                                  I really think it depends on the hunt and also on the territory. If you have tens of thousands of acres the hound can run on before it meets a road or whatever, I guess that plays a part. In an ideal world hounds never run off or get distracted by things they shouldn't. yeah right.

                                  One of the hunts i hunt with uses tracking collars all the time. Most of the territories are such that there is a limit and the likelihood of the hound getting to a road and getting run over or picked up are pretty high. We also had a hound shot by a disgruntled deer hunter. At least with a collar we can try to find him before something bad happens.

                                  The other hunt I hunt with doesn't use collars at all. Last season, a hound didn't come back after a hunt. About two weeks later she showed up at the hound truck after a hunt and she had a dislocated paw. Who knows how long she hopped around hurt in the woods. With a collar we could have found her and accounted for her. At the end of last season, one hound didn't come back and to this day we don't know what happened to him. With a collar at least we might have found something. We just hope someone picked him up and he is ok.
                                  So I think tracking collars are a good idea.
                                  "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


                                  • #18

                                    Go 2fat!!!
                                    Now let me get this straight...you got muddy, wet, winded, overexcited, woke up many times way too early , got tangled, "scolded", and you'd do it again in a heartbeat!!??!!!! Yessirreeee! Folks we have a convert!! Welcome to the hunting fraternity and long may you go!!! The hint I got that you loved it is when you mentioned that "primal chill inducing thrill".....it's an addiction and we ALL are hooked on that. Goose bumps early in the morning, in the fog, hounds in full cry, echoing off a ridge, and you know you're gonna go, go, go........dang it's like heroin = once you have some, you want MORE!!!

                                    And that feeling about how good your horse was....we all come to really appreciate our partners in this endeavor. We don't do this sport alone ya know. They help make it special. They become special; over the years you share many, many adventures. It's so precious!

                                    Enjoy and Happy Hunting! Keep us informed!


                                    • Original Poster

                                      Surveying the "wreckage" this morning - my bridle is stiff and my helmet is still wet and the backs of my knees are a bit sore from my boots! Ms. Mare's feet are a bit sore from the part where we trotted on gravel, so we rode on soft grass. And I had to spend an hour un-doing the stop-and-go "training" I put on her yesterday! I was especially proud of her because she is a late bloomer - middle aged, but only 2 years under saddle.

                                      Would thank you phone calls to the two women who "took care" of me be appropriate, or are cards better (or overkill?)?


                                      • #20
                                        "Would thank you phone calls to the two women who "took care" of me be appropriate, or are cards better (or overkill?)?"

                                        Our MFH once told me she never forgets someone who sends her a thank you note! I'm sure either would be appreciated!
                                        "pack in!"