Sunday, August 5, 2012

Rockin' XC schooling / roading with the hounds

This morning, we headed back to do some roading with the hounds, and jump a few XC fences while we were there. We rode on the huntsmaster's and huntsmistress's course where we schooled jumps two weeks ago. There were about 6 other folks that had hauled in, mostly the hunt "regulars", so we had a good field.

The hounds were let out of their kennel, and almost immediately caught the scent of a jackrabbit. They raced across the course and zipped through the fence on the far side, horses in hot pursuit. Our "second flight" group followed at a more sedate pace, then held for a while while the whippers-in rounded the hounds back up. We eventually met back up with the rest of the field in the middle of the course at the water jump, then went off to the other side of the course to try to flush out any more jackrabbits.

We spread out and trotted in parallel up the side of the field, when suddenly the huntsmistress yelled "JACKRABBIT TO YOUR LEFT!!!!" We all looked over to see the the entire pack of hounds sprinting toward a jackrabbit that was between our second flight horses and the fenceline. The rabbit dodged among the horses, and suddenly it was up to us to keep the hounds from going through the fence. The huntsmaster and one other rider from our group took off, and it was all I could do to keep Saga from racing after them. (Yeah, there's a reason I go second flight. They go slower. This was not slower.) The ATV that was out with us came roaring up behind us, trying to head off the hounds, while the huntsmistress and whippers-in came galloping up, yelling to the hounds and firing rat shot to try to dissuade them from chasing the rabbit. With all the chaos happening around us, I kept expecting Saga to absolutely lose it and take off with me, but he (we?) managed to hold it together and not bolt for the hills.

After that excitement, we put the hounds back up and took a bit of a walk break. Those of us who hauled in decided to go do a few fences. Saga was tired but recovered fairly well, so we did a few small log piles. He was steady to the fences and much happier to be out on his own than he was with the field of horses. We galloped around to a hanging log that was set on a small natural rise with a fairly big natural dip in front of it, and he sucked back a bit to look at it. I closed my leg, clucked to him, and he went right over. It's so wonderful to have a horse that's bold to the fences - even though he looked at it, he never really seriously thought about stopping. Man, I love that horse!

It was getting really hot out, so I decided to finish up with the water jump and check out the up/down bank complex. FuzzyPony got a couple of videos of us:

Through the water. I wish we could keep the canter all the way through, but we make it OK. I need to not pop up so fast after the jump!

Back through the water again, with more energy this time, even though he took a bit of a look jumping over the first fence.

For the grande finale, we headed over to the up/down bank complex (although I must admit that the stair steps were awfully tempting). I took Saga down the bank, then back up, then did both of them together:

Saga took a rather enormous (and unexpected) leap off the bank, and you can hear me yell on the way down. We landed in a bit of a heap on the off side, and I didn't help him much, but I'm so proud that he just went even though I didn't give him a very good ride. What a star pony!

We'll go back next Sunday to do it all again - hopefully with a bit less excitement. I'm hoping that my jumping instructor will come and ride Oberon. I don't think she's ever jumped anything outside of an arena, so it should be a very interesting experience for her! Muahahahaa... I shall bring her over to the dark side!


  1. Thought it was coyotes you hunted?
    Sounds like a lot of fun. I want to hear about next Sunday already!

    1. We actually *chase* coyotes, never kill them. Otherwise there wouldn't be anything for next week! Unfortunately, there are a bunch of jackrabbits out right now that throw the dogs off the coyote scent, which is not optimal.

      Yeah, I can't wait for next Sunday either!

  2. That was cool! I liked the little yell when Saga leaped off the bank. He really is game, isn't he?

    What is rat shot?

    I can imagine a few things, but rodents flying through the air to get the hounds' attention seems unlikely. ;)

    1. Val, that's one of the reasons I bought Saga - he was so game to the fences. Cash was like that too - in all his jumping career, he only ever refused a fence once. I really do prefer to ride horses who WANT to jump and are willing to try, even if they're not so certain. They make the best eventers!

      Rat shot is a round of ammo that's used to shoot rats. It's a scatter shot of very small pellets. If the huntsmistress can't get the dogs off their quarry (usually a rabbit or a deer), she'll pepper them with rat shot. The pellets sort of bounce off the hounds - I imagine it stings, but they don't seem to have any lasting effects. The thing is, she ONLY wants the hounds to follow coyote scent, so we always dissuade the hounds from going after anything else.

  3. Fun!! What a good boy Saga is. Can't wait to hear about handsome Oberon's outing. :D