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Help a Show Hunter "Princess" Learn!!

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  • Help a Show Hunter "Princess" Learn!!

    Hi all,

    I've recently been bitten by the "I want to foxhunt" bug, so I need an education! My grandmother hunted with Deep Run for EVER, and she tells great stories! My mom, on the other hand, hunted ONCE on a borrowed hunter that someone told her was "seasoned"--almost killed herself and vowed never again!

    I am a gutsy rider, I have a very lovely, athletic, talented TB that I show with success in the 3' divisions. We've schooled through 3'6 at home. I've taken him through the woods and all over our very hilly farm by himself and with friends and he seems to enjoy it. He is 10 years old, solidly built--stocky for a TB--very sound of wind and limb and in excellent condition.

    I am completely ignorant about practically everything hunting related--so please forgive the stupid questions, but the old-fashioned tradition of the sport makes me drool. Is there an average length of time that they usually last? They don't kill the foxes anymore--they just chase them, right? So how does one get "blooded" or do they even do that anymore? How do you join a hunt? I don't even know the names of the hunt "officials" or any hunting terminology. Help!!

    How many people actually hunt their precious darling show hunters? How frequently do horses get hurt? Does anyone check the ground where they think the hunt will be taking place and make sure there aren't holes, etc? One on hand, I think my horse would actually be good at this and enjoy it--I know I would enjoy it--but on the other hand, he is a successful show hunter and too valuable for me to take huge risks with him. Advice?

    Very curious! Thanks!
    Katie Gardner ~ Otteridge Farm
    Visit us on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Otteri...12757628746926

  • #2
    I'm far from an expert, hunted as a kid, and just go out a few times a year now...but I'll give it a go...

    Our hunts here usually last about three hours... just depends.

    Hunters dont get "blooded" anymore due to the threat of rabies.

    Riders warn each other of holes... saying "Whare Hole" and pointing...the ground is not really checked, because you ride randomly through big open fields, where ground hogs and other vermin love to build homes.

    As far as contacting hunts, contact the Secratary first... they can point you in the right direction.

    I'm hunting a show horse... but hopefully he will become a seasoned foxhunter.. as I have no desire to show anymore. Yes, there are injuries, minor usually... nicks, scrapes, etc.

    Once you start you will become addicted though, and it is all worth it.

    I do have one bit of advice... if you really love your show boots, buy another pair to hunt in... mine have big scratches now from brushing up against sticker bushes (and they are brand new)... oh well...

    Here is a link that may be helpful!! http://www.foxhunting.freeservers.com/


    • #3
      You have a lot of the fundamentals down- you've trail ridden your horse, jumped 3'6" and ridden him in groups. The next step during the season (you've missed roading and cubbing) is try him in a Hilltop group. The addition of the hounds and field changes the playing field and like any new thing, some horses need time to adjust to it.

      Ring the hunts closest to you and ask about hilltopping. This past Saturday 2/3eds of the field pulled out at 2+ hours. I stayed out to the bitter end which was 4 hours. The Huntsman decides when the hunting is done- the rest of us follow and ask to be excused when pain, fitness or time contraints are driving our day.

      The only concern I have is your last sentence "but on the other hand, he is a successful show hunter and too valuable for me to take huge risks with him. Advice?" We take risk w/ our horses in any activity whether it is the trailer ride to a show, lessons or hunt, schooling in the warm up ring at a show and being kicked by another horse or cantering across a farm field following the hounds and stumbling on a corn stalk. OTOH, if your horse enjoys hunting what a fantastic change from the show atmosphere and it could be just the ticket to keeping him fresh. Hilltopping removes the jumping risk and is where a horse new to hunting needs to start, I bet you would love it given your enthusiasm.


      • Original Poster

        Thank you so much!
        Katie Gardner ~ Otteridge Farm
        Visit us on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Otteri...12757628746926


        • Original Poster

          Originally posted by SLW View Post
          The only concern I have is your last sentence "but on the other hand, he is a successful show hunter and too valuable for me to take huge risks with him. Advice?" We take risk w/ our horses in any activity whether it is the trailer ride to a show, lessons or hunt, schooling in the warm up ring at a show and being kicked by another horse or cantering across a farm field following the hounds and stumbling on a corn stalk. OTOH, if your horse enjoys hunting what a fantastic change from the show atmosphere and it could be just the ticket to keeping him fresh. Hilltopping removes the jumping risk and is where a horse new to hunting needs to start, I bet you would love it given your enthusiasm.
          That's really an excellent point, and I guess I hadn't thought of it that way. I think what I really meant was that he has a "job" and he is very good at his "job"---so if I asked him to do something other than his "job" and he got hurt doing it, would I want to throw myself over a cliff? Uh, probably...

          At the last show there was "hunt night" with all sorts of specialty hunter classes--a handy, a hunter hack, etc, and it was right up my alley! We borrowed a shadbelly and he was all braided and gorgeous and the handy was very tough but a lot of fun---and something about entering the ring at a hand gallop and tearing down the long side before turning and jumping really just appealed to my old-fashioned, tradional, awesome Hunter leanings. I think that's what started this.

          Anyone hunt sidesaddle anymore?
          Katie Gardner ~ Otteridge Farm
          Visit us on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Otteri...12757628746926


          • #6
            There are VERY few that hunt sidesaddle anymore. But our own SideSaddleRider (it think that's not quite right) hunt with Middleburg predominantly aside. I know she also has a few nice show hunters, who she hunts as well. At my farm, we have a VERY nice show hunter, who this summer was also on lease as a Big Eq horse. He came back just in time for hunting season to start. He MUCH enjoys hunting more than showing, but he's VERY good at both!

            As for the territory that is hunted, in some fields the holes may be marked, just just known to be in certain places, but most of the time you won't know they are there until you hear the person in front of you yelling, "'Ware hole."

            I wouldn't say that there are "no kills" anymore, it is just not as common that there is a kill.

            Where are you located? That might help us give you some direction to which hunt to contact.


            • #7
              I'm far from being an expert but ...

              I hope you get to go hunting, FlyingSwap! You sound so interested and enthusiastic--I'd say go for it!

              Your comment about the "specialty" classes intrigued me as when I was a kid I remember those being just some of the regular hunter classes--Hunter Hacks, Handy Hunters, Working Hunters, as well as equitation and Hunters Under Saddle--divided by ponies' sizes, riders' ages, and horses' experience. Hunters were just hunted, and shown--I guess there were some that were only shown and not actually hunted, but it seemed more like they were supposed to be suitable for hunting and I remember hearing about how in conformation classes points were not deducted for "honorable scars" (hmm, maybe that tells you something for your guy?).

              That is what I remember from where I grew up ... people who are more expert, please comment!

              I think the hunt officials or officers are Master, Huntsman, and Whippers-In; and, yes, you just call something like " 'Ware hole!" etc (we did that on our last trail ride here!)

              I really hope you get to do it! Just remember not to pass the hounds or the fox!
              Founder of the People Who Prefer COTH Over FB Clique
              People Who Hate to Rush to Kill Wildlife Clique!
              "I Sing Silly Songs to My Animals!" Clique


              • #8
                As SteeleRdr said, few of us hunt sidesaddle frequently anymore, but there are some. I do, Anne Moss in PA does, a lady in MD, and also a woman in southern VA (their names escape me at the moment, I apologize). It's much fun!

                We hunt ALL of our show horses, and they are much better for it (or as my huntsman likes to phrase it, they are "Field Hunters that Show", ). In fact, my A/O hunter was awarded Reserve Champion Virginia Field Hunter this past weekend. He simply ADORES hunting, and is really wonderful in the field. In addition to our horses, our master hunts her Grand Prix horses, and we have another lady who usually hunts her retired Grand Prix horse, but has also started her high A/O jumper as well. We've all found it makes them much braver, teaches them to really open up their stride, and they are just fresher all in all. In fact, I wish more people would hunt their show horses and give them a change of scenery, per se.

                Yes, injuries can occur while hunting, but it's not very often. And mine seem to get injured more in the field at home than they do when hunting. But look at it this way...it's just another reason to purchase insurance.

                (and yes, some hunts do still blood on the rare occasions when there is a kill, but it's not a widespread practice anymore.)

                Just an edit, as I finally remembered, the woman's name from MD is Sarah O'Halloran.
                Last edited by SidesaddleRider; Nov. 13, 2007, 11:48 AM.
                Cherry Blossom Farm - Show & Field Hunters, Side Saddles


                • #9
                  We had someone hunt sidesaddle on opening day. She is not a member but stated that she had a great time so maybe she will return! She looked stunning in a blue habit on a grey.

                  In our territory, holes are not usually marked. Although our fieldmaster's horse will stop dead or lunge around any holes so you just watch him!

                  Kills do occur on a rare basis as does blooding. It's really up to the club and staff at that time.

                  Hope you do try hunting. It is very addicting!! I actually ride second flight (so we don't jump) mainly because my older horse is on his second career and did plenty of jumping in his first. And I'm far, far from an expert but learn something everytime out.
                  \"And indeed the love that the horses of the Rangers bore for their riders was so great that they were willing to face even the terror of the Door , if their masters\' hearts were steady as they walked beside them.\" The Return of the Ki


                  • #10
                    Try mfha.com to read up on the sport, the rules, and the ethical standards. That might be helpful.

                    We are hunting, and there can be a kill. Kills are rare and usually old, sick (usually with mange) or injured foxes. Blooding is a very ancient ritual and is frequently misunderstood. But with the threat of rabies (in Virginia rabies is a big problem), I don't believe it's done much anymore.

                    I'd not be starting out with a green horse this time of year, unless you just wanted to hilltop for an hour or two. Hunts around here are going out for 3 or 4 hours of hard riding - it's a bit unfair to ask a green horse to not only deal with the hounds and the other horses galloping about, but also to do the fast starts, hard stop, and extended galloping that's required this time of year.

                    That's a recipe for an injured horse and/or one that's blown its mind by the commotion. Particularly if the rider is new to the sport as well - I'd make allowances for a trainer/experienced foxhunter taking out a green horse as they'd know how to give the horse a good ride.

                    (that's just my opinion)

                    I certainly wouldn't go with the field at all. I'd hilltop if I were you. Jumping 3'6" at home means nothing in the hunt field. It's not the height of the jump. It's dealing with hounds, (who may be jumping the coop in front of you, beside you, running underneath your horse), other horses, the hidden hazards that might be before or after a jump, being able to walk or trot up to a pretty trappy jump and taking it ...... true cross country riding.

                    Trust me. Hilltop and give you and your horse a chance to learn the sport.

                    Injuries.... well.... any horse can get injured doing pretty much anything. What I've learned in foxhunting is that the best way to prevent injury is to leg up your horse properly. Don't overface it. Know when to press on, know when to call it a day. Sharpen your xc riding skills. Don't overfeed your horse. Mostly common sense stuff.

                    A good field hunter is worth its weight in gold. My old dressage instructor was horrified to learn I'd taken up foxhunting. "You'll ruin your horse! All that dressage training wasted!" blah blah blah.

                    Heck - that horse is the best shape of his life. I do more dressage in the hunt field than I ever did in the ring.

                    I don't think you'll ruin your show hunter. I think what will happen is that you'll get hooked on foxhunting. Especially if you enjoy watching a pack of hounds work their magic. Truly something to behold.
                    Brothers and sisters, I bid you beware
                    Of giving your heart to a dog to tear.
                    -Rudyard Kipling


                    • #11
                      not the end but the beginning

                      the horses do like hunting, what is not to like being out on a glorious day with other horses and riders watching the hounds sort it all out and keeping up with them while they do.
                      the view in the ring never changes. hunting is way more fun [IMHO]
                      injuries are rare, killing the fox more so. the first several hunts are spent more managing ones horse and riding. but the horses settle in to it and then one can enjoy the hunting.
                      more hay, less grain


                      • #12
                        I will give you an example of a "jump" out in the woods on Saturday... my horse has a huge jump, and we came upon a log that was about 2 feet... on the other side, lots of small trees... very trappy... the well seasoned horses in front of me literally climbed over this log... I was a tad worried that my horse would seize the oppurtunity to jump, and land either on a tree, or on the horse standing on the other side (they were holding once over) ...with a little bit of coaxing, he stepped up and over the log. Whew!


                        • #13
                          One thing that has gone unmentioned so far. If you do go out, even only hilltopping, bit up a notch or two. Hunting IS exciting, and you really do not want your horse to discover that if he really tries, he can go first!

                          There are few things less fun than being pulled on for 4 or 5 hours, and it's so easy to prevent. Try a non-jointed pelham.You can always slip the curb rein if you find you don't need it. And once your horse has proven that he is mannerly out hunting, you can bit back down.

                          Otherwise, for equipment, resist the temptation to boot your horse. Out in the real world for several hours provides way too many opportunities to fill the boots with debris. After a long break from hunting, I went out last year and was surprised to see booted horses at the meet. By the end of a relatively short day, the boots that were still on were askew and most likely filled with mud and trash. Confirming, to me at least, that boots out hunting are a poor idea.

                          Just do it. Have fun.
                          * What you release is what you teach * Don't be distracted by unwanted behavior* Whoever waits the longest is the teacher. Van Hargis