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.


  1. So great! Y'all look amazing over that perfect jump :)

    1. Thanks! I know my Eq is not perfect in this photo, but it's getting better :)

  2. What awesome pictures! I'm so glad you had such a good time, and Boca being AMAZING definitely makes all of your hard work pay off. :D :D :D

  3. Awwwwwwww I am so happy for you. :-) Seriously. What a wonderful day.

  4. I am so happy for you both (and a little jealous). I remember a few months agao when you weren't sure that you could even keep him!

    1. Thanks! It has been such a complete and miraculous turnaround. Isolating what was bothering him, treating it, and also finding someone to work with who believes in us and makes everything fun has been so key. Believe me, I am grateful.

  5. That sounds super fun (though I will admit a little anxiety-inducing for those of us with horses that can't play well in groups). You guys look great!

    1. I'll admit, it was a bit sensory over-load. It even backed *me* off a bit! There is definitely a lot going on.

      The woman directly in front of me got bucked off and landed almost on Boca's front feet while her horse galloped madly around the woods. At that moment, I was awfully grateful to have a non-reactive horse. He had every excuse to act up, but instead stood like a rock. I give him all the credit in the world.

  6. How awesome for you and Boca!!! Glad you got to go and had an amazing time :)

  7. Woohoo! Way to go! Those pics are so awesome. I hope you bought/framed some :)

  8. So fun! You guys look great. What a fantastic experience. I kinda want to look into this now.

  9. So much fun and what great pics!!! And I'm so happy reading how happy you are w your horse!!