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Opening Hunt from a newbie's perspective

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  • Opening Hunt from a newbie's perspective

    Sunday, October 28, was Opening Hunt for Wolf Creek Hunt. I have been awaiting this day for at least 4 years. For some reason, foxhunting has been a goal of mine for that long. Things have never worked out for me until this fall.

    The Master was kind enough to let my friend and I stable our horses at his barn, since we drove down the night before. The next morning we got up and began braiding. OY! It was 40 degrees, dark and my eyes ain't what they used to be! The only place I could tie Buddy put my back directly to the light. He was fidgeting from being in the stall (which hasn't happened ever in the last 7 years of his life!), and wanting to eat the grass next to the stable. So I'm spraying his mane with water, braiding tiny tiny tiny little braids, all on a horse that is determined to wiggle and squirm. By the 5th braid my fingers were numb. By the 6th braid I'm thinking, "even though I'm a professional hairdresser, why didn't hire someone to braid?" Seventeen braids later, and me swearing that Buddy needed Equine Ritalin, I got them done. Just as I was looping them and tying them off, my friend said we had to leave NOW. ACK! We quickly banded them, and my fingers were completely numb and useless by this time. I was sooooo frustrated, and felt like The Weakest Link.

    Got down to the clubhouse; tried to get dressed; couldn't fasten the buttons on my shirt due to frozen fingers. Got my stock tied fixed and managed to get the pin in somewhat straight. Vest went on; black coat; acorn gloves in pocket; hairnet fastened with 80,000 bobbypins; helmet on. Then I tacked up Buddy, threw myself in the saddle and we trotted up to the kennels. Everyone else was up there already, and I was so upset that I was running late. My friend was very helpful, and we got there just as the Stirrup Cup was being served. Hot mulled wine sure tasted good on a cold morning, and Buddy was thrilled to graze. As I looked around the yard, and saw the field in their formal attire, I got choked up. Call me sentimental, but the timeless beauty of the hounds, field member, staff with colors, gentlemen in scarlets; it just got to me. The priest arrived and held the blessing; we had seconds of the stirrup cup; were given beautiful sterling silver St. Hubert's medals; hounds were released and off we went.

    As we went down the road to the first covert, my heart was in my throat. I was nervous about how I'd do that day. I knew that with the temperatures in the low 40's; the recent rain; the ground fog; etc. there was a chance that the scenting would be quite good. Could I keep up? Would Buddy stay calm and sane, or would he be too much for me to handle? All I thought about was, "Just try not to embarrass yourself too badly!" Once again, I felt tears well up as I rode behind the pack on the right side, and saw all the hounds cheerfully bouncing around the Master's horse, all in a nice, tight pack. I felt like I was riding in a calendar.

    The Master reached the first covert, and within the first 10 seconds the hounds found a HOT line....continued in Part II since this is longer than I anticipated!
    Barbara www.customstockties.com
    Tulsa-QH; Schnickelfritz-Holsteiner; Atikus-Danish Warmblood; Buddy-QH/TB; Winston-Shire; Thomas-Percheron/TB; Mac-Belgian Draft, gone but never forgotten
  • Original Poster

    #2
    Part Two

    The hounds hit a hot line almost immediately at the edge of a cornfield and the woods. The lead hound voiced, and the rest of the pack honored. With the hounds in full cry, we took off on a nice, fast run to the southeast following 2 coyotes. The coyotes ran into the woods, and suddenly I found myself cantering down a steep, muddy hill behind my friend. A year ago I would have had a panic attack, but Sunday I just thought; keep your heels down; let Buddy place his feet; keep in the center of the horse; let him use his head; and sit deep. At the bottom of the hill we got into a grassy meadow, and really had a good run.

    The coyotes went due south with the hounds close behind, and then both coyotes quickly turned to the west. We went back into some very thick woods (I was grateful for my wool coat which protected me from the brambles!), and then cantered down another steep, muddy hill. By this time I am feeling nothing but sheer exhilaration, and extreme gratitude towards Buddy. He is as sure-footed as a mountain goat, and can navigate anything. I am able to rate him by just wiggling my fingers, and ride him in The Bitless Bridle.

    At the bottom of the second steep hill, the coyotes split. One went north, and was viewed by 2 members of the field. The second one stayed south, and the hounds chose to follow him. We kept up our nice run through open territory, until the coyote vanished. Just like that.

    One minute we are flying up and down over hill and dale; I'm ducking to avoid getting whapped in the face by branches; Buddy is stretched out and running at full speed, and then.....nothing! LOL! At the check we were all grinning about our run, and agreed it was a great opening for Opening! As the Master packed up the hounds for another cast, I once again found tears in my eyes. I couldn't believe I was actually HUNTING!

    We covered a lot of territory; the hounds found a few more lines, but no more big runs like the first one. At one point the hounds were going back and forth, and we went up and down a very short, but extremely steep hill 4 times! The last time up the hound circled back and we reversed field with some horses still only halfway up. I whispered to my friend, "How much more can we stomp up and down this muddy hill and trash the footing?!??!" It was like a slapstick routine! The footing over all was very good; even with all the rain the previous week it was soft but not slippery.

    The Master lifted the hounds and we hacked back to the kennels. Buddy has a new nickname, "No Drama Buddy." The green horses, and the riders that were a bit overfaced, all seem to gravitate to Buddy. He is so very careful and picks his way across the creeks and rough footing, so he led the way for a few horses at times that weren't as confident. He will catch up to the rest of the field afterwards without getting strong or stupid, and many times I found him actually conserving his energy. He knows exactly what to do, and how to do it. I am just SO grateful that I have him to teach me the ropes of hunting.

    After the hounds were put away, then we enjoyed a great breakfast of lox (flown in from NY by the Master), artichoke casserole, cornbread casserole, chilled grapes, baklava, apple crisp, and dried plum cake with bourbon sauce (that was my contribution!). Mimosas were consumed as we relived the hunt. Even though I started out very nervous and unsure about my abilities, both the field master and my very experienced foxhunter friend said I that did a great job! What praise to my ears. I saw some GREAT hound work; noses to the ground and really working the lines. I saw the pack really come together and honor Barleycorn, the lead hound. I saw how incredible the whips work together, and how our Master/huntsman knows the territory. I experienced the charm and knowledge of an 83 y/o Master who has been hunting since 1964, and got to hear stories of past hunts.

    Foxhunting is addicting. There is so much to learn. My friend is helping me in the field, teaching me hunting etiquette and giving me pointers as we ride. My horse is worth double his weight in gold. The field members were all so kind to me, and really made me feel comfortable. You know that expression, "it takes a village to raise a child?" Well, it takes a hunt to teach a new member, and the Master, staff and field members of Wolf Creek Hunt has my heartfelt thanks for all they have done to help me reach my goal of (finally!) hunting.

    Pictures: I'm on the bay; my friend is uphill on the gray.

    Opening Hunt

    Barbara in southern Illinois
    WCH - where the foxes are all straight-necked; the women are all beautiful; the men are all handsome; the hounds are all perfect; and the territory is stunning and varied!
    Barbara www.customstockties.com
    Tulsa-QH; Schnickelfritz-Holsteiner; Atikus-Danish Warmblood; Buddy-QH/TB; Winston-Shire; Thomas-Percheron/TB; Mac-Belgian Draft, gone but never forgotten

    Comment


    • #3
      Thanks for sharing. I live vicariously through the stories on the hunting board. Thanks, Glad you had such a great first hunt!
      If i'm posting on Coth, it's either raining so I can't ride or it's night time and I can't sleep.

      Comment


      • #4
        I loved the telling of your Adventure....

        I am just realizing the curiosity I have about hunting and the dogs...will be checking in at the Hunting forum more often...
        So glad it went well for you!!! Bravo
        "My treasures do not sparkle or glitter, they shine in the sunlight and nicker to me in the night"

        Comment


        • #5
          What a nice Hunt report... congratulations and cheers on your first opening meet.. it is a real achievement.
          Foxhunting is a really demanding sport.. SO...now we need you to do that twice a week and post a long detailed hunt report after each hunt and not offend anyone or make any mistakes while keeping it fresh and interesting for the reader!

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Catersun View Post
            Thanks for sharing. I live vicariously through the stories on the hunting board.
            Me, too. *sigh*

            Hey, Catersun - I think Horry County Hounds (maybe pronounced with two silent H's) has a nice ring to it.
            I'm not ignoring the rules. I'm interpreting the rules. Tamal, The Great British Baking Show

            Comment


            • #7
              I think you might be on to something Paint.... we are pretty close... I waved to you as I drove by sugar bears a couple weeks ago lol.

              my mom just found a young hound cross a couple of weeks ago... we were joking about teaching her to hunt....

              I know of a couple of others that might be interested in the area..

              btw.. are you going to the heart ride this weekend?
              If i'm posting on Coth, it's either raining so I can't ride or it's night time and I can't sleep.

              Comment


              • #8
                what a great recap there! i also live vicariously through you. Where in Southern IL are you? I'm from a Chicago suburb but my sis goes to Illinois State. I know the hunt scene out here in VA is huge but wasn't so sure about Illinois. Great to hear about some great hunts.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Indeed!

                  Indeed! It is an addiction! And thanks ever so much for sharing your hunt with us! Sounded wonderful, exciting and I guarantee you that you will remember that meet for years to come. Details will come to you years & years later! And your horse! What a wonderful guy and do you have ANY idea how many of us could EVER hunt our horses in a bitless bridle!!?? You da man!!! Wow! Now you know why foxhunters never sell their good fieldhunters; trust like that is hard to find. Fieldhunters like that are worth their weight in gold.

                  Hunt on! Report back!! Frequently! You are a good writer! Great mental images! Oh.....but we really appreciated the details on the food.!! Foxhunters gotta eat!!

                  And the numb fingers thing? Yeppers! Part of the charm of our sport!!

                  Comment

                  • Original Poster

                    #10
                    Originally posted by majesticthundor View Post
                    what a great recap there! i also live vicariously through you. Where in Southern IL are you? I'm from a Chicago suburb but my sis goes to Illinois State. I know the hunt scene out here in VA is huge but wasn't so sure about Illinois. Great to hear about some great hunts.
                    I live just outside of St. Louis, in New Hanover, IL. Both my husband and I still work in St. Louis; we are about 25 miles from work. The hunt is in Carbondale, IL, the home of SIU-C. Our territory is all privately owned, and I heard last night the Master just had another 1,000 acres brushhogged and cleared for hunting. We won't be running out of room any time soon! I've heard there is one part where you can ride up to the top of the bluffs, be in IL but see MO and KY across the way. I keep hoping the game will take us that route!
                    Barbara www.customstockties.com
                    Tulsa-QH; Schnickelfritz-Holsteiner; Atikus-Danish Warmblood; Buddy-QH/TB; Winston-Shire; Thomas-Percheron/TB; Mac-Belgian Draft, gone but never forgotten

                    Comment

                    • Original Poster

                      #11
                      [quote=wateryglen;2774069]And your horse! What a wonderful guy and do you have ANY idea how many of us could EVER hunt our horses in a bitless bridle!!?? You da man!!! Wow! Now you know why foxhunters never sell their good fieldhunters; trust like that is hard to find. Fieldhunters like that are worth their weight in gold. [quote]

                      Oh, I know what a gem I have in Buddy. When I got him back from rehab this spring, it was with the intent to leg him up for hunting. For a fresh start, I ordered him a halter from Green River Tack which is hunter green, and has metallic gold hearts and swirls in the braid topstitched onto the halter. It's flashy in an understated way. He doesn't have papers, and I can't say he's a headturner, but I gave him a formal name of "Solid Gold Buddy."

                      And he is! At every check I praise and pet him, and as we trot along I tell him, "You're a Solid Gold Buddy boy!" Probably my hunting companions think I'm nuts for talking to him so much,(they already do for hunting him bitless, barefoot and in a treeless dressage saddle!), but I don't care.

                      I know hunting is all about the hound work, but for me this year, it's all about the joy of seeing a formerly "throw-away" horse get fit and more sound than he's been in years. To be able to go out and hunt on a horse that conserves his energy, doesn't go crazy, is content to stay in the back, is careful and sure-footed in rough terrain, can keep up with everyone without it turning into a rodeo, is invaluable.

                      Trust me, I know what a valuable horse I have! It's all about Buddy! And thank you for the nice compliments about my report.
                      Barbara www.customstockties.com
                      Tulsa-QH; Schnickelfritz-Holsteiner; Atikus-Danish Warmblood; Buddy-QH/TB; Winston-Shire; Thomas-Percheron/TB; Mac-Belgian Draft, gone but never forgotten

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Thanks for sharing your heartfelt writeup and background on Buddy. The great hunting horses are priceless.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Barbara,

                          Thanks for the great writeup. I can't wait for our opening this Sunday.
                          -Painted Wings

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

                          Comment

                          • Original Poster

                            #14
                            Originally posted by SLW View Post
                            Thanks for sharing your heartfelt writeup and background on Buddy. The great hunting horses are priceless.
                            He came to me with ringbone, sidebone, navicular changes, and was foundered with rotation over 5 degrees. His teeth had never been done in 11 years, and from chronic lameness issues, his body was a mess.

                            My chiro and dentist both said he was a trainwreck.

                            Last set of digital films showed no signs of rotation, and just a tiny bit of sidebone. The vet thought that he was just getting it, NOT that he was getting over it. Comparing the films from when I got him, to the latest set, is really fascinating.

                            Hunting is the best thing for him. I don't micromanage him in the field, and if he wants to choose his own canter lead, so be it. Each week I see signs that he's becoming more balanced and fit, and after hunting 2.5 hours he was barely sweating. With his arthritis, this is the best thing for him; regular exercise, long and low.

                            So with my fear issues, and his physical issues, we are quite a team. I told him when I got him that I would take care of him, if he would take care of me. I think our bargain has proved fruitful for both of us!

                            The interesting thing about the Bitless Bridle is that Buddy goes perfectly in it, versus when I've tried a bit in his mouth. Any type of bit makes him overbend and stumble badly. I tried 2 types of bits and then the Bitless Bridle one afternoon at home, and the changes were dramatic. Dr. Robert Cook, who invented the Bitless Bridle, states on his website that what I saw and experienced for myself holds true. I'm training my Shire gelding in the Bitless Bridle as well.
                            Barbara www.customstockties.com
                            Tulsa-QH; Schnickelfritz-Holsteiner; Atikus-Danish Warmblood; Buddy-QH/TB; Winston-Shire; Thomas-Percheron/TB; Mac-Belgian Draft, gone but never forgotten

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Catersun View Post
                              I think you might be on to something Paint....
                              I know of a couple of others that might be interested in the area..
                              btw.. are you going to the heart ride this weekend?
                              Well, count me in. On an Horry County Hunt, I mean. Not the heart fund ride. Too many people for me, lots of whom only get on a horse once a year.

                              This white girl can't jump, but I could be a hilltopper. If we had any hills, that is.

                              RT66Kix - Fear issues, and you're hunting? Bitless? On a horse you rehabbed? You're my new hero. Er, heroine. Whichever, you rock!
                              Last edited by pAin't_Misbehavin'; Nov. 3, 2007, 11:48 AM.
                              I'm not ignoring the rules. I'm interpreting the rules. Tamal, The Great British Baking Show

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Barbara, you're retelling was a wonderful read!

                                I'm eager to try out hunting, we live right next to the Waterloo Hunt Club and see them out and about all the time when we're in the woods.

                                Last Wednesday I did a drive behind to get some learning in, and had a lovely dinner back at the club afterwards, everone was so welcoming and encouraging!

                                I have a few things to work on with Tiempo before I work up the courage to try it out, but I think he would be great, we're already so used to riding this whole area, but I have to get used to the idea of doing it at sustained speed, I also have some fear issues

                                He's a Paso Fino, so he might be a little out of place, but there is a lovely couple I met there who ride regularly on TWHs.

                                Oh yes, and we ride bitless too!
                                I recognized with despair that I was about to be compelled to buy a horse ~
                                Edith Somerville and "Martin Ross"

                                "Momma" to Tiempo, Tucker and Puff, RIP my beautiful Norman 8/2012

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Wow, Buddy had ringbone & sidebone???? He is nothing short of a miracle. Congrats and how much extra special it is knowing all that Buddy brought into the *marriage*.

                                  I could hunt my mare bitless except that a hunt that began in Kansas would find me either ending in Oklahoma (if the hounds were cast south) or Nebraska (if the hounds were cast north). I've heard the folks in both states are very nice, may try it!!

                                  Comment

                                  • Original Poster

                                    #18
                                    Originally posted by SLW View Post
                                    Wow, Buddy had ringbone & sidebone???? He is nothing short of a miracle. Congrats and how much extra special it is knowing all that Buddy brought into the *marriage*.

                                    I could hunt my mare bitless except that a hunt that began in Kansas would find me either ending in Oklahoma (if the hounds were cast south) or Nebraska (if the hounds were cast north). I've heard the folks in both states are very nice, may try it!!
                                    Would you believe me if I said that "miracle" has happened on several of my other horses? If you follow this trimming method exactly, you will get the same results. It's worked on all breeds, sizes and ages of horses.

                                    And about your mare - LOL! She'd get tired eventually, and at least out that way it's pretty flat and open. You'd just have to ride as fast as she can run...
                                    Barbara www.customstockties.com
                                    Tulsa-QH; Schnickelfritz-Holsteiner; Atikus-Danish Warmblood; Buddy-QH/TB; Winston-Shire; Thomas-Percheron/TB; Mac-Belgian Draft, gone but never forgotten

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      What fun, thanks! I relived some of my hunting experiences; re. your fingers, you don't need trto do tiny horse show braids, 12-15 fatter braids is enough, I used to be able to do a horse in 20 minutes, great way to make some pocket money!
                                      breeder of Mercury!

                                      remember to enjoy the moment, and take a moment to enjoy and give God the glory for these wonderful horses in our lives.BECAUSE: LIFE is What Happens While Making Other Plans

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        I'm waiting for her to get tired, I've done a little CTR & ER w/ her and those get her attention. She doesn't jig, twitter or wiggle- she just goes w/ a purpose, as if she is looking to find where she left something important, like a woman who left her purse back in the department store three blocks back.

                                        It is impressive to beat ringbone. I saw a horse a month ago w/ advance ringbone and he was pretty pickled up with it. Very sad.

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