Monthly Archives: November 2008

Dixie and I enjoy a Thanksgiving Day hunt

Just getting around to writing about our T-day hunt but boy was it awesome. I still don’t think I have come down from the high I experienced that day. I joined Wicomico Hunt Club but had not ridden with them so I was super excited to be out on Thanksgiving morning. I think Dixie knows we are hunting when all his tack goes on and then the cooler and he has to ride with his stuff on.

We were heading out from O’Neals farm in Laurel, De at 9am. It was 32 degrees and I had my regular show clothes on and underarmour pants and the underarmour mock neck. Dixie was super relaxed as I got on and we headed out. I decided to ride at the back of the first flight and informed everyone to feel free to let me know if I was doing anything I was not supposed to. I think for the most part we blended in. Dixie was wearing the new hunt bridle I bought from Bartville tack along with a breastplate and standing martingale. He looked really nice in my opinion.

Everyone looked so good and I admired the frock coats which are much longer and cover your thighs. I will do anything to cover my thighs not only for warmth but to hide them from view. The frock coat is now on the Christmas list 🙂

The hounds struck about 15 min into the hunt and we were off. There were a bunch of paths in the woods but it seemed like we went in circles. We did a bunch of trotting which soon turned into cantering and then galloping. I have not been that fast on a horse on purpose in a long time. We went up and down some hills and the trees were flying past me. I was dodging branches and keeping my eyes up, heels down and legs in front of me. Dixie was loving every minute of it but I really do think he was trying to figure out what the heck we were all running from. There were jumps all through the trails and I took some but not all. I wanted to just get him confident and not throw to much at him at once.

I have to say I believe he is excellent to hunt. Super comfortable, soft mouth, responsive, agile, balanced and smart. We made some really sharp turns going quite quickly and he did a great jump. Lots of sticks and logs on the trails and he never tripped yet was aware of his footing. He was very brave about everything. We had to go across a bridge and he balked a bit but I squeezed him on and he went over. The second time we came to the bridge he didn’t even give it a look. In the first few checks he was a bit anxious. After one big run he started calling to the other horses..not sure what horses but he was noticably nervous. He was not doing anything wrong but I think a few good runs got his blood pumping. He settled down nicely after that and was really good at the checks.

What I love the most about him is he listens! When horses in front of him slow down he has auto brakes without me having to even touch his mouth. He can stop on a dime which is great. If everybody else was galloping and I wanted to canter I could and he had no problems. A few times 1st flight was going so fast I was a bit far behind but 2nd flight was even further behind me. He could see the other horses but didn’t act up or care that he was behind.

We were out for about 2.5 hrs so long day. I think we were both exhausted but thrilled with that day of hunting. The hounds were really incredible and the pack seems so well trained. I had a great time learning from the fieldmaster of 2nd field. He was really nice and gave me a good education on the basics.

Tomorrow is opening hunt. I had someone come out and braid Dixie. I spent a few hours cleaning my tack and polishing my brass. I am baking a pumpkin cake and sour cream apple pie to take tomorrow. I can not wait!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Personality changes

For me one of the most interesting parts of retraining horses coming from the track is watching their personality change. When Dixie arrived he was one big mess. He was terrified of other horses and wanted nothing to do with people or horses. He spent a lot of time standing in a corner by himself. He did not seem to enjoy brushing or attention.

I don’t really pressure them because I am a believer that time heals them and you just have to let it happen naturally. I love to give them treats because I think it gives them something to look forward to. Come out to the x-ties and get a treat. Get done being ridden and get a treat. Pretty soon they start looking for the treats which always makes me laugh. Dixie of no personality soon wanted to get in the tack room where the treats were.

Many horses who come off the track have no idea how to socialize. I know Dixie was turned out at the other farm for many months but he was scared of everybody. As he got into work, started to get fed up good and developed muscles he started to become top dog in the field. It was very interesting to watch this happen and my experiences seem to show that horses do change once they begin to “think” they are awesome.

One of the most interesting things about Dixie now is that he loves people. He will follow me around like a dog in the field. He wants you to reach over the fence and pet him. At dinner time he is very mannerly and would rather wait for me to undo the gate and give him some love rather than charging into his stall as the other horses do 🙂

I was in the stall with him last night and he was actually picking up the lead rope and playing with it. He has become such a goofy horse. He loves for me to brush him and pay attention to him and looks sad when I leave. I think he now associates humans with comfort where before he really had no comfortable place. He has always been a horse who relied on humans to give him direction. On the ground he could be scared but if I was on him he was confident. Now he is just an overall more confident horse.

There are several fun things coming up. Dixie and Indy are going to participate in the Washingon College collegiate horse show this weekend. I will hopefully hunt Dixie on Sunday and then again on Thanksgiving day and the following Sunday. The mud has finally dried up to be replaced by freezing ground which I hate. I am not a cold weather person but when I am on the horse I am okay. I can not say I am looking forward to hunting in cold weather but I will tough it out.

I will have to get some updated pictures of my farm. We recently did a bit project to rid ourselves of mud. The back of the driveway, in front of the barn and a 50ft wide by 72 ft long side on either side of the barn for sacrifice paddocks were done in asphalt millings. We went from having boot sucking mud to a lovely surface. I plan to use the sacrifice areas in bad weathers. We got our 12×24 run in shed up in the front field where Dixie, Indy and my older horse live.

We still have a lot of fencing projects and really the list of projects is overwhelming. Winter is a good time for working around the farm since there is not much else going on. I think the horses prefer the colder weather over the hot sun and flies but I sure don’t!

I hope to get some pictures of the boys in the show this weekend.

Some pictures of Indy from last hunt

I will be away at a clinic this weekend so I am already sad about missing the hunt. However, we are supposed to get dumped on with rain so I will not be to sad. I am clinicing with Boyd and Silva Martin and looking at Boyd all weekend will make me forget all about hunting 🙂

Indy always has his ears up

Ed likes to go! Indy and I bringing up the rear

Holly and I come cantering up

Bringing in the hounds

Indy takes his turn hunting

Poor Indy gets neglected as I am just overwhelmed with the farm projects, to many horses and now dealing with lack of daylight. I feel bad for him because he really wants his own person and although he is perfectly nice he has only had two people look at him the whole time he has been for sale. I think people possibly think he has holes for $3500 and all the mileage. We toy with raising the price but who knows. I can not seem to figure out the market but if you know anybody looking for a super fantastic smaller horse he does it all and is so fun!

I picked up my friend and her horse and we headed over to Starkey’s farm in Galena, Md for a 11am hunt. Most of us had the holiday off so I was glad to be able to get out and hunt again. I wished I would have clipped Indy but not enough time to get it all done. He does not get a thick coat but I knew 2+ hrs would be a bit out of his fitness level if we went hard so I planned to go in early if we did.

It turned out to be a slow type of day. We did a lot of standing around mixed in with some good trots and canters but mostly standing around. Indy was not sure why the heck we hurried up to run to a certain spot and then just stood there- he always thinks I am dumb so nothing new there. He was a bit excited in the beginning which for Indy means cantering instead of trotting but it was a super slow canter and he was very respectful. He just can not quite get his body to trot until he relaxes it all. He did really well standing at the checks which was almost suprising b/c at horse shows he isn’t fond of standing at the in gate for hours. He will walk happily but standing takes to much effort.

We had an awesome trot through the fields and he did jump a few ditches….weeeeeeeee. We had a really good trot/canter for about 10 min through the woods where we went up and down some hills and he was loving that. We had to go guard the sheep pen and turn the fox and hounds if they came that way. I left the group and rode the other way and Indy could have cared less. I think you could do darn near anything with him because he does not get buddy sour or herdbound. He will lead or follow and he had hounds popping out everywhere around him and he did not even jump where Dixie always seemed to jump.

By the end of the day I was riding on the buckle and just along for the ride. I swear he knew what was going on and he listened to the hounds. I think this could really be his thing but he loves to trail ride and go out and about. He is not strong or fast but he could go all day. He does not seem to get tired as we go but he never was “up” to begin with.

My husband was along driving the hound truck and got some pictures but the camera is out in the truck and I don’t feel like getting it so I will share tomorrow.

I got home and joined some friends for a trail ride on Dixie. He was really tired today probably from hunting on Sunday. I think he needs to get a bit fitter so I need to find a way to fit in some more trail rides during the week for him.

Hunting is addicting!

What a gorgeous day for hunting. We started at 8:30 at Ed Fry’s Fair Hill Stables in Chestertown, Md. I was running a bit late and my day started off a bit rocky when I went to touch the butt bar and Dixie kicked me in the hand. It was partially my fault because I was in a hurry and did not give him enough warning but he got in trouble regardless! I am sure everybody was staring at me but oh well horses need manners and he forgot his.

The farm is a big dairy farm that backs up to lots of other farms. Lots of open land and woods. The hounds were casted in the woods and we followed right behind the whips for a while and had some good trots and canters. Dixie hadn’t been ridden all week as I had something as close to strep throat as you can get. No swallowing for 4 days in a row and I just felt horrible. My friend’s horse was being a bit of a butthead bucking and kicking which was upsetting Dixie. Dixie was doing a super job of listening but was sure he was getting kicked and was upset. We were going up and down hills and across tiny tiny bridges (scary!). He did let out a buck once and I let him know that was unacceptable. I think he was watching her horse too closely! He has never ever bucked before. 30 min into the day he was as relaxed as could be.

We went up to wait for the hounds to come up and standing there we saw three foxes come out of the woods and under run under the power lines. The hounds were in the woods working but we think there were so many fox they were confused. Many times the hounds were splitting and it was hard to keep them together.

We were really moving around all day and sometimes we followed right behind the hounds and we got to see them chasing a fox which was amazing. Dixie does really well with the hounds but he did get spooked when one came up behind him in the woods. I didn’t see it or I would have turned him to face it. He gets anxious and sometimes acts like he wants to kick. I would be sure to discipline him if he did but he has not so far. I try to watch for the hounds and make sure to turn away from them.

I believe there were a total of eight fox spotted. There were fox running everywhere. We were out for about 2.5 hrs? It was a beautiful day and I was super pleased with Dixie. He got better at standing today especially as the day went on. He really listens well and does not care if he is leading or following which is very nice.

Some pics: note this groups is super informal. Most people ride in jeans and chaps.
Dixie and his clip job-

The master and one of the whip’s behind him

Riding into the woods

Standing and listening to the hounds

These are the power lines where seven fox were spotted crossing from one group of woods to another. I am told there is a fox in this picture but I did not expect anybody would take pictures today so I only had my short lense on.

I also joined a formal hunt (Wicomico) and they will be cubbing at the C&R center on Wednesday which is 5 min from my house. I am thinking I might be sick that day 🙂 I am planning on taking my other horse (Indy) out on Tuesday. I think he will love it as much as Dixie does.

What a difference

Tonight I decided I better clip Dixie for the hunt tomorrow as it is supposed to be 60 degree and he got pretty sweaty last time. Life is starting to slow down and I feel better now that I can swallow (I didn’t know it was possible to have a sore throat for 4+ days). I hoped Dixie would be a good boy but I was not sure. Last year soon after his arrival I had to clip him and he required close to 4cc of ace and was still kicking and fighting.

The hubby and I have decided that Dixie tends to be the opposite of most horses. Give him something that you would expect him to get upset about and he doesn’t. He sure hates a stall but clipping well he loved it…loving it as in totally relaxed falling asleep letting it all hang out 🙂 I helped pull the legs forward but otherwise I just got to sit on my chair and watch. Yes, I am ban from operating clippers. I am horrible and my husband gets embarrassed for me so he does the clipping. This is our first clip of the season so I am not sure how it will look but I will get some pictures.

Dixie and I will be up early. The hunt starts at 8am and the weather looks foggy so I need to give myself plenty of time. I will be sure to write up my hunt report. Dixie got some new shoes on that are a tighter fit so hopefully that will work out better. We have gotten a lot of rain this week so I hope it is not to muddy. I have been told this fixture has some jumps so I am eager to see how Dixie does with that.

Dixie goes hunting

I have been so anxious to start hunting. I joined Wicomico but today I accepted an invitation to ride with my friend. Her hunt is a local hunt with a very small group. I believe there might have been 10-12 riders total and only four of us in the field.

Dixie was confused why I put him on the trailer with his tack on. It was chilly this morning and I hadn’t ridden him in a week so I figured it could be interesting but more than likely not. I know Dixie pretty well and he is a horse you can just pull out of the field and go. He got his cooler on (an awesome triple crown plaid full body cooler with irish knit lining I got on ebay for cheap!). When we got to the hunt I bridled him in the trailer and thought he could be nervous when he got off but he was not nervous at all. He munched some grass while I got my helmet on.

I got on and walked around the hound truck to let him hear/smell the hounds. He did not seem overly concerned. We stood and waited facing the hound truck when the hounds were let out and he got a bit scared and went backwards but then turned around and checked them all out. I suppose 15 or so hounds pouring out of a truck is scary.

We were off. We did some trotting and cantering around the edge of the woods and Dixie was his cool and calm self. My friend’s horse is a bit of a pistol and ripped a few good bucks and kicks but Dixie did not feed off of that at all which was nice to see. We then did a lot of standing around while the hounds were in the marsh. It was my first time hunting so I was taking in all the sights and  sounds and trying to learn as much as possible. I let him eat some grass while we were standing and he was really quite good about standing. He walked a little bit but about what I would expect. He was aware of where the whips horses were but did not get upset if they came by us.

We had another good trot/canter before we called it a day. I was extremely proud of Dixie and everybody remarked how well behaved he was and I got a couple comments of how nice looking he was. We hunted in a loose ring snaffle and he was just as soft as could be. He was not hot or spooky. I thought he was really a pleasure to ride. We were out for about 2hrs total.

I can not wait to go again!