Dreamy and I attended a Wentworth Hunt, hosted by Rest and Be Thankful Farm in Lyman, ME on Saturday, Sept. 22, 2012. I have wanted to fox hunt FOREVER. And I read all of Rita Mae Brown's fox hunting mysteries a few years ago and decided that I needed to try this discipline!
I am SO glad I made time to finally attend a hunt. I had wanted to go to the last hunt of 2011, but it was cancelled due to rain. I had to wait almost an entire year, but it was worth it!!
As per hunt protocol, we started in the Hilltopper field. In a hunt, there are three fields: First, Second, and Hilltop. First Field stays right with the hounds and jumps everything, Second stays back a bit and can pick and choose jumps, while Hilltop goes at just a walk and trot and does not jump. I was a bit disappointed with the VERY slow pace in the Hilltopper field as we very quickly lost sight of the hounds. We had a bee attack, a few riders fall off, horses unwilling to cross a ditch, and the leaders got lost. Whoops!! Thankfully, no one was hurt and Dreamy was perfect. She was cranky about having to trot so slow; her walk was as fast as the trotting horses in front of us, so we had to do a lot of walking as to not overtake the slow gaited horses. She will thankfully ride in the front, middle, or end of a group, but she was simply not happy about having to jog instead of trot. It was basically a trail ride with nine other riders/horses and she was like, "Uh, OK, this is boring." At the same time, I totally understand why we were asked to start in the third field. It only makes sense to be sure your horse is going to be calm and easygoing in a new environment. But I admit that if I had to stay in that field, I don't think I would bother fox hunting again.
We finally got to the Stirrup Cup, which was incidentally in the field of the Morgan horse farm where I started my riding career back in the 1980s!!!! What a neat surprise for my first ever hunt! I politely asked if I could move up to the Second Field and had a blast on the way back!! I finally felt like we were really riding! We got to trot through the woods, canter through fields, took a couple of jumps including "real" ditches (LOL!), and got to watch the hounds work. It was so much fun! The feeling of cantering along through a field with a big group was awesome! Dreamy was very good. She never once hesitated or wondered what was going on. She was brave and bold and listened. She never got excited or wanted to race. I cannot wait to go again!
BTW, the hunt is a mock hunt, so no foxes are harmed!! :-)
More photos here!
And a video! You have to hear the hounds!!
|Before the hunt began!|
|Listening to pre-hunt instructions|
|Stirrup Cup - talking to Doug S., owner of the Morgan Farm where I grew up!|
|Dreamy was pretty sure she wanted to try the cider. LOL!|
|Riding along in Second Field - fourth from the front|
|Love her happy ears! Second from front|
|Hacking back at the end|