Friday, April 9, 2010

Feel the fear and do it anyway

Connie over a spar at the first hunt of the season. It's not a great picture but hey we are getting over!

I have always thought hunting was for the slightly mad. All this jumping fences malarky, along with all that galloping around and drinking from hip flasks. I'm not wrong, but with both my good friend and my sister and mother telling me I should hunt to get brave, I thought I would give it a try. I have previously done two hunts. One when I was small with my Mum on a 12.2hh pony. I really wasn't ready what I mostly remember was Mum yelling at me for getting off my horse because I didn't want to ride up the steep hill. Poor Mum! She says we had some good gallops and stuff so thats good.

Then a couple of years ago I went out on my sisters pony Prue for the opening hunt while she rode the Bob. I didn't want to jump anything on the mad pony but we did have some awesome gallops. Kim hunted a few more times that season until Bob collapsed and died and that was pretty much it for hunting. Anyway, the opening hunt was last Saturday and Connie being quite a sane type and Kate having hunted a lot previously apparently, Kim and I packed up and went. Connie was quite good, we found a nice little spar to start over and she was cool with that. Often horses struggle wit the concept of jumping through the fence line but Connie was pretty much indifferent. Jumped it big though to be fair. Had some really good gallops on this hunt and some nice runs where Kim and I cantered along jumping spars. The hunt was over when the hare ran into a culvert.

I honestly thought Connie would either blow her stack or be totally not interested in hunting. Like the rest of the hunt would be galloping over the skyline and Connie would be left behind wandering up the hill reluctantly, dragging her little hooves. But no, she seemed to really enjoy it and was full of running, and is actually much fitter than I thought. The next day having ridden for 3 hours I was a wreck.

Then on Easter Monday there was another hunt that I went to that was out on the coast and I took the Kate. The hounds scented a hare in the very first paddock and we were off on a short run. I just tucked Kate in behind my friends horse and away she went. She is great on the gallops in that she just arches her neck and sits lightly on the contact and just gallops along without fighting. She jumped well early on and then the hunt got slow and we wandered around for a while trying to find a hare.

I seriously underestimated one spar. It looked nice an solid, but it was jumping into a laneway, with a level change and we were going in cold as we were just wandering behind the hunt. So anyway, Kate stopped and she sat down and we sat for a while and then she rolled over and I stepped off. Then I got back on and followed my friend over the spar and off we went again. See hunting is for the mad. Anyway, I jumped so many spars that day tat terrified me. Little frail ones, ones with holes in front and narrow narrow ones. Even one with wire along the top of it about 2 inches up. One spar I didn't want to jump but the gate had an electric wire behind it and apparently I find a death spar less scary than getting a small electric shock so there you are. Had one amazing run over like 5 spars so that was good practice and by the end of that I was getting the hang of hunting her, and not fighting her too much. Still by this time both Kate and my friends horse were absolutely poked and getting a bit naughty because they were so tired. Well her horse was doing half rears and Kate pawed a little but Kate is a cool customer.

One the way in I got offered- incredibly kindly- a very reliable hunter if my mum wanted to hunt on Wednesday. So I convinced Mum to do that and she was quite excited. She hadn't hunted properly (jumping fences) since she was 17 and has not ridden a lot recently.And I went to my third hunt in 5 days. Connie knew the drill this time and she was one excited pony she was insanely strong on the first run, so I didn't jump the first spar but Mum sure did. She reckons she was cantering in wondering if she remembered how to jump but she looked so tidy over the fences, obviously she retained it. The next spar was very small and I popped Connie over it and she was good and so then we got stuck in a bit more. Had one really awesome run where I jumped a lowered wire even. First lowered wire I have ever jumped. (lowered wires don't have the rail across the top) Near the end of the hunt Connie started doing little rears and got quite worked up waiting to jump one spar so she was odiously pretty tired and we went in soon after. Not much was happening and the hunt came in like 10 minutes later.

So every hunt I have definitely done things that have scared me which is really good and should help me get braver. After jumping wire, a showjump should be easy right? Connie is absolutely loving it too, she is quite the speed freak. It didn't help on the last hunt that she was ridiculously in season and she is always a bit more mad when she is in season. She fell in love with a gelding and kept molesting him, but completely ignored the pony stallion, so go figure. Mostly, I love the galloping the best, it's such a liberating feeling.


  1. Good fun - that's got to be a lot more scary than jumping in a ring! Glad your mum got a go too!

  2. Sounds like alot of fun!!! Good for you for being so brave, your girls too!

  3. Welcome to my hunting world ....isn't it so much fun. I love the fact there is no pressure. If you want to go and jump everything like a mad thing then thats cool....and if you just want to go for the ride and drink from your hip flask then thats cool too. Yes you are right its mad and for the slightly crazy. But you know the crazy thing you are a show jumper and I think thats crazy. I find hunting so much more relaxed. Anyway welldone you for having so much fun

  4. You are very brave!! I think it was a great thing to do to work up your courage more. It sounds like a blast and fun for your mum too.

  5. I had to giggle at the thought of the electric shock. I would be that mad too!

    Sounds like Connie has found her niche in hunting. Of course, she prefers a gelding to a pony stud......Connie has class. So did Scandalous. She found being teased with a pony stud to be insulting and she let that pony boy know it too. LOL