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In praise of hunt horses

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  • In praise of hunt horses

    I come from an eventing/dressage background and have pretty much left that life behind because I fell in love with hunting. This past year was my 3rd season hunting and I've gotten to know the other members much better. I've noticed something pretty special.

    There seems to be more affection, loyalty, and admiration for our hunt horses than in the competitive sports. My small, calf-kneed appaloosa means more to me than any of my nicer competition or resale horses ever did. It's not just me, there is a real bond, a palpable admiration for "good" hunt horses that goes beyond the competitive ring.

    We just wrapped up our second season hunting and I had more fun than you could shake a stick at. I realized it was because I could trust him to handle whatever situation arose in the field or on a blistering run. 90° turn at a gallop on a narrow trail in the woods? No problem, he'll come back and balance. Steep descend down a muddy hill with a ditch at the bottom? No problem - he'll find his way. Big buck jumping out right beside us? No problem - keep galloping after hounds!

    I realized I trust him with my life every time we move off. I realized that the gift of riding a good hunt horse is just that - a gift. A gift of their athleticism and speed so that we might follow and enjoy hounds and hunting. And, unlike in the competition ring, I don't take that gift but demand more - more impulsion, more height, more accuracy.

    And, that, I humbly think, is just one of the beauties of hunting.

    Do you all have the same admiration for your good hunt horse? What situations has he gotten you out of or through?

  • #2
    I feel the same way and couldn't have said it to any better.
    Brothers and sisters, I bid you beware
    Of giving your heart to a dog to tear.
    -Rudyard Kipling

    Comment


    • #3
      I agree. Nothing better than a great fox hunter. They have a hard job: gallop around with other horses, then stop and stand quietly, jump safely, watch out for holes, etc., etc. My fox hunters have saved my neck so many times.

      Comment


      • #4
        In Praise of hunt horses

        I agree. Nothing better than a great fox hunter. They have a hard job: gallop around with other horses, then stop and stand quietly, jump safely, watch out for holes, etc., etc. My fox hunters have saved my neck so many times.

        Comment


        • #5
          Absolutely! That shared experience of risking life and limb and having our horses save both their own bacon and ours...how could we not form a strong bond!

          Comment


          • #6
            Absolutely. There is a bond...and trust between horse and rider when you run and jump over unknown terrain. I always chuckle when "horse shoppers" tell me that they "wouldn't pay that much for a hunt horse, but would rather spend the big bucks on a show horse!" Personally I think there is more risk out fox/coyote hunting over uncertain/rugged terrain than in any well groomed show ring with 4" rails sitting in jump cups. But to each his own!! I LOVE my hunters!!
            www.crosscreeksporthorses.com
            Breeders of Painted Thoroughbreds and Uniquely Painted Irish Sport Horses in Northeast Oklahoma

            Comment


            • #7
              I completely agree. I loved my boy before we started foxhunting, but this season (our first) has just been amazing. I went for just a trail ride with a good friend and fellow hunt member last Friday because it was so nice out. She was on her endurance Arab and I was on my hunter/endurance Arab. In the past, my guy has always been kind of timid about leading - he'd do it because I said so, but wasn't fond of it. Last week he was happy to fly down the unfamiliar trail (we um...don't take it easy on trail rides...) and navigate the at times slippery/muddy trails with ease. In the past he's been a little horrifying and not terribly surefooted. It was an amazing change and was a neat realization how far he's come in the 4 years I've had him (he's 7).

              Days before I had been lamenting not having a bigger, more powerful horse. I've been schooling a horse I kind of regret selling to a friend who I still love dearly and was reminded how neat of a horse he is and that as soon as I am able, I want to replace him. He's much hotter than my Arab and is much more of a project than my Arab is at this point (got him as a 3yo, have done all his training myself). Then we went on that trail ride and I was reminded just how far he's come and how cool he really is.

              Comment


              • #8
                Yes, I completely agree! Shh.. don't tell anyone, but I actually teared up and hugged my guy last weekend, thanking him for such an awesome season so far, for keeping me safe, and doing whatever I asked of him without question. Course, I did this while we were safely in the woods by ourselves (I am a whipper-in for my hunt) so that no one could see me cry, hehee. My faithful hunter was new to me the DAY before our Opening Meet, but I wouldn't trade hunting any other horse this season! What made me actually cry was just, while sitting there listening to the hounds work through the woods, coming to realization how much we ask of these horses and how forgiving and trusting they are! It's so amazing and we should all feel so blessed!! Go hug your hunt horse, for they may not be as big and beautiful as any "show pony", but they keep your life safe with every wild ride!

                Here is a link to his page on my website: http://mw-equine.weebly.com/freckles-croton-oil.html =) I'll be loading a slideshow at the bottom soon!
                Visit MW Equine!
                Raven Beauty - '08 JC Thoroughbred mare
                Zeecandoit - '07 JC Thoroughbred gelding
                DBT My Dark Blue - '07 AHA Arabian Mare

                Comment


                • #9
                  Absolutely agree. One twist in one case, though. I had a long time hunting partner that, frankly, liked hunting more than me. Liked the hounds more than me (though did not tolerate hounds that rioted and would pin his ears and go for them). If I ever tried to hug him he probably would have bitten me- he was not into pda.

                  I could only reliably count on catching him if I had my hunting day togs on (which is to say- the camo suit I wore over my hunt togs to keep them clean).

                  I came off him many times, but never while hunting in 20 years of hunting him, it just now occurs to me. If I'd ever come off during hunting, rest assured he'd have just continued on without me. He had his priorities.

                  But as long as you made sure to keep a leg on either side of him, you'd be sittin' pretty at the end of a long day.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Well said

                    Nothing better than a good hunt horse - or pony. My hunting pony is worth his weight in gold. Mostly because he's a sensitive half-Arab, he's not for the inexperienced, but if you know how to ride, he's a blast. Even galloping full out, all you have to do is half halt and relax your seat and he downshifts. Trappy place? No problem, he can handle it.

                    Something like our third time out, it was junior day and we were riding with this young man who was on a 10-hand pony. The field was popping over a drop and the 10-hand pony hopped down, so I thought, no big deal. We get up to it and it's as tall as my pony (13.1 hands). I knew I'd come off if I tried it, so I hopped off and swung the reins over his head, then climbed down it myself. It took him less than a minute to decide to follow me. Then off we went.

                    We're in our second season and he just gets better and better. I bought a hunt whip at the Tack Exchange a month or so ago (Merry Christmas to me) and I can crack it off him now (not that I need to, but it's nice to have that skill).

                    He goes by himself or wherever you put him in the group, he's a happy camper.

                    Originally posted by rennyben View Post
                    I come from an eventing/dressage background and have pretty much left that life behind because I fell in love with hunting. This past year was my 3rd season hunting and I've gotten to know the other members much better. I've noticed something pretty special.

                    There seems to be more affection, loyalty, and admiration for our hunt horses than in the competitive sports. My small, calf-kneed appaloosa means more to me than any of my nicer competition or resale horses ever did. It's not just me, there is a real bond, a palpable admiration for "good" hunt horses that goes beyond the competitive ring.

                    We just wrapped up our second season hunting and I had more fun than you could shake a stick at. I realized it was because I could trust him to handle whatever situation arose in the field or on a blistering run. 90° turn at a gallop on a narrow trail in the woods? No problem, he'll come back and balance. Steep descend down a muddy hill with a ditch at the bottom? No problem - he'll find his way. Big buck jumping out right beside us? No problem - keep galloping after hounds!

                    I realized I trust him with my life every time we move off. I realized that the gift of riding a good hunt horse is just that - a gift. A gift of their athleticism and speed so that we might follow and enjoy hounds and hunting. And, unlike in the competition ring, I don't take that gift but demand more - more impulsion, more height, more accuracy.

                    And, that, I humbly think, is just one of the beauties of hunting.

                    Do you all have the same admiration for your good hunt horse? What situations has he gotten you out of or through?

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Absolutely! Although I wouldn't say I have a better bond with my hunt horse than with some event horses I've had - but I certainly value my hunt horse just as much as my current event horse, who is technically worth QUITE a bit more were I to try to sell them to other people

                      I have catch ridden a few different horses in the field over the years, but realized recently that never, in 6 years, have I felt ANY nerves before or during a hunt on my little mare. Not even the first time I took her out, which was a first time for both of us... 1st field, too! I just didn't know any better then But I trust her 100% to always jump safely and always stay upright. She is currently unable to hunt due to a minor injury, and while I've had other horses offered to me and have enjoyed hunting others in the past, I've found I don't really have any desire to hunt until it can be with her.

                      Comment

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