Thursday, August 20, 2015

Hound Schooling July 2015

Photo Credits: KMDavenport Photography

 Back in July, Boca and I were finally able to attend a Hound Exercise session with our local hunt club. I have always been curious about going out with a hunt club, but have never been quite sure how to get involved, plus was never really in circumstances which would allow me to participate.

This summer, one of my fellow co-op boarders mentioned Hound Exercise to me.
Turns out, it is a great way to gain exposure to foxhunting, in a low-key setting.

In July, our local hunt club held Hound Exercise sessions open to existing members and non-members. Attire was informal, the pace was slow, and there would be current Masters on hand to answer questions and assist newcomers.

Boca and his new BFF
As it turned out, at the last minute H and Piglet were not able to go, which meant Boca and I made the trip solo.  I can honestly say it was a real bonding experience for us, going off-property alone into a new experience.

I got there early, to make sure we had time to take it all in, meet some members, and be prepared. My first impression was surprise at how loud it was. The hounds are encourgaged to be vocal, unlike most dogs, so there was quite a racket coming from the kennel.

Thankfully, Boca was his A++ stellar self, and unloaded quietly, looked around and started munching grass. I get the strong feeling he trusts me, so although the situation was questionable, he has faith that I was not putting him in danger.

Immediately, a member came over and introduced herself. She was friendly, knowledgeable and very willing share whatever she thought would be helpful information, especially when I told her it was our first time and I wasn't sure what to expect.

About 20+ riders and horses turned out for the session and it was a mix of male and female riders, on horses of all shapes, sizes and breeds. A good hunt horse has to be athletic enough to be able to keep pace across varied terrain and footing, but sane enough to go at speed, in company, with horses and hounds. My guess is that if you were mounted on a jigging, sweating, frantic mess, it was going to be a long day in the saddle for you.

The masters all encouraged safety, and staying within the level you were comfortable at.
Many people chose to flat only, and went in a smaller group at a slower pace.
I wasn't entirely sure which group I would go with, but Boca was such a rockstar and was handling everything with such aplomb, I decided to go with the jumping group.
I remember this jump in particular feeling perfect.
It was a slight uphill incline that we took out of a balanced canter. We hit a good distance and I had one of those perfect moments we all seek when we are riding. I felt like we were flying and in tune and all was right with the world. It is one of those moments that we chase forever, the one that makes all the sweat, the dirt, the tears, the time, the money and the compromises worth it.
It was an extremely good outing and I was bursting with pride for my little red horse.
He tried so hard and was so good and so willing. We rode in company, with horses and hounds, with blowing horns, trotting and cantering in single file and jumping and cantering in a field, all in a happy mouth snaffle.
It really was a very cool experience and unlike any other world I have been in.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Learning to Fly

We're Alive! I swear!

I know we seem to have fallen off the face of the earth.
It seems as I get busier actually riding, I have less time to blog.

I also really wanted to get media to do a recap on our Hound Exercise outing, but it seems even begging, pleading and offering money is not going to get the professional photographer to hurry up and post the photos anytime soon. I've actually kind of given up. I assume they'll pop up online someday down the road when the memory of actually going is in the distant past.

What has been going on, you might ask?
Boca has been learning to horse.

I can't even tell you how awesome he has been. We've been learning so much with the help of my awesome friend H, who I think I have finally convinced to turn Pro and save us aspiring Ammies from ourselves.

We've come so far in such a short time. The back injections and training with H have been what helped us turn the corner. We even have a show on our upcoming schedule.

H set up a grid on Saturday which taught me just how much I need to support Boca.
One thing is for sure, he is a game little horse and seems to love jumping.
He never says no, never loses his patience, bears no grudges when I make mistakes or flail. We're learning together and it's a pretty cool thing.

Last week, we went to a local barn and did a cross country school.
We didn't go with H, which was kind of a mistake, as we (both Boca and I) saw all the jumps and our brains kind of fell out of our heads.

I scrapped doing an actual warm up, doing transitions and getting him balanced and listening to me. Something happens when I get out on a cross country course. My brain dribbles out my ears and I hear the clarion call of my Irish ancestors yelling "Jump All The Things!!!"  I don't want to teach him that jumping means run madly and fling yourself over with maxium enthusiasm.

But, I remembered my fellow blogger's habits of looking at the positives, I will say, we refused nothing and I stayed with him on his most maxium of efforts.



I think we can all agree, Pony's got Hops.