Monday, June 13, 2011

Producing a hunter

Fatty Rascal three hunts into the season

So I have only been hunting for two seasons but I feel like I could probably share enough to teach you guys how to produce a nice mannerly field hunter. I guess firstly you need to have your horse with a good covering of fat because they are going to burn it off. I'm a slacker because I nearly always leave the field early, but I honestly think that three and a half hours is long enough for any horse. so yea your horse needs to have plenty of condition going into the season, especially if it's a fussy eater. They need to be fit too but not galloping fit just long distance walking and trotting fit. You can't ever have a horse fit enough for hunting because you would just wear them out. You let the hunting fitten them as you go. You do need to be aware in those first few hunts though that they aren't fit and be careful to pull up and let your horse have a break and catch it's breathe. It's easy here because we hunt hare which tend to run in big circles, so if you lose the hunt you just have to climb to the top of a hill and see where the hunt is. I 8understand in England if you are on a stag you might have a run of 20 miles which is insane. I would definitely get left behind. Though Kim said in Ireland you tended to hunt from patch of bush to patch of bush because the fox would hide out and then get flushed again.

The first key point when you first take your hunter is to put a green ribbon in it's tail to indicate that the horse is new to the huntfield so that people will give you more space. The second thing you need to do is have a really really boring day. The worst hunters to ride are the ones that just ran with the field from day one. They hear the hounds giving tongue and just follow the field ignoring the flailing of their rider because this is what they know. You wont to go out and cruise around the back. Jump a few select easy fences if you feel up to it and spend most the day just talking to people and watching the hunt with the occasional gallop with the field.

It's nice if you have a friend on a greenie so they two of you can hang out for the hunt and teach your horses that their world doesn't end if the hunt gallops off and leaves you behind. You also need to be aware that if your horse is starting to have a melt down and this is true of hunts 1- forever, you need to let them get their equilibrium back and just chill for or a while, or they become hot and nervous hunters. What happens is that when a horse gets really really tired and runs out of energy, they start to run on pure adrenaline and they are really unpleasant at this stage because they tend to lose their heads. I normally go in once this happens.

It always works that around the third hunt is when your green hunter is going to be it's very worst. That seems to be enough hunts that they figure out just how fun hunting is and they just want to get going! This season Rascal and my friends horse were both on hunt three the same day and there was a little bucking on Rascals part and a lot on my friends horses part and we ended up having a very quiet day just chilling at the back with the very occasional gallop and no jumping. This was good for them because on hunt four they were both quite mannerly. Even doing this your horse will probably still be a bit naughty hunting. Horses love hunting and they soon learn that the hounds giving tongue mean it's galloping time and so there are very few horses on the hunt field that don't get a bit excited and act up now and then. Especially as by about 5 or 6 hunts they are starting to get really really fit.

Rascal- fit and hard after hunt 10 despite no work apart from hunting twice a week.

It's important to stay selective about what you jump until you are really confident of what your horse is capable off. When you are on a run you will just jump what comes up and really surprise yourself, but when you are just jumping paddock to paddock while the hounds are still sniffing something out, I find this particularly hard because i'm such a chicken and it's in cold blood. Mostly it's fine I just need to ride a but more confidently to the fences. Now at about hunt 10 Rascal is jumping pretty much everything, even tricky spars but not the bigger fullwires. She can still run as a bit deep to the fences when she is excited, though I think this is also related to me not getting a strong enough canter to start off with. She really enjoys her hunting even though it still tires her out. You tend to see more falls and mistakes at the start of the day and at the end of the day. The start when everything is in cold blood and not really going yet and the end when people and horses making tired mistakes.

You may have to vary your equipment while hunting. Rascal went from a french link snaffle to a waterford snaffle, did two hunts on the second ring of a three ring happymouth gag and now I'm back in a single joint loose ring snaffle. Not the bit I use for flat work because the action is a bit sharp but she was happy in it last time. No hunting for a week or so though, at least 10 days. I'll tell you why tomorrow or the day after.


  1. Man I wish I had a horse to hunt here.... in Texas we hunt coyote!!

  2. I talked to a woman who hunted in Wyoming and she said mostly you jumped big tiger traps over drains and they hunted coyote as well. sounds terrifying. I'm trying to work out a helmet cam so you can all come hunting with me.