Letterman goes foxhunting

I think the first hunt is always a bit nerve-wracking for the rider and of course the horse. Hunting is a challenging discipline for many reasons, some of which are the galloping and then stopping and standing, whips cracking, hounds popping in and out everywhere, having to follow other horses and have horses galloping all around you and just so many more factors that you don’t think about until you are actually out there doing it. You never know how a horse will take to hunting and I have seen even some of the quietest horses have a mental breakdown out hunting.

Somebody asked if I ace to hunt and truthfully I don’t. She said she thought it was mostly for the people which tends to be true 🙂 I think that my years of experience have taught me to always remain relaxed even when the horse is not so relaxed. If you get out there and all hell breaks loose then you just bring them back in and call it a day. I am also very confident with my horses and I know that I have set them up for success. I do add a little bit more bit, make sure to have a martingale and have a neck strap.

I was invited to ride with my friend Alison who hunts with Flint Hill. They are a small group which is both good and bad. Good because you are right in the action and bad because you are right in the action 🙂  There is only one field and you are very close to the hounds so you have to hope your horse can handle it all. I love that everyone dresses casually!

Letterman was tacked up with his saddle and breastplate for the ride which was about 1 hr 15 min up to Fairhill, Md. He seemed fairly relaxed about it all and although he wanted to walk around he wasn’t feeling nervous to me.

Hanging out getting ready

We hacked out to a part of Fairhill called Little Egypt. I loved that Letterman was very curious when all the hounds came pouring out of the truck. He looked right at them and wasn’t at all scared. Whew, worry #1 over!

The views are amazing

It was a very warm day about 80 degree and the hounds first time out this season. They started out not finding much and we hunted three separate woods. Then we had a great view and the hounds were right on the line. It sent chills down my spine to hear them and be part of this amazing sport.

We got to moving along at a pretty good clip with some trotting and cantering. We had to cross down some sort of ravine where the weeds/sticker bushes were belly high and the horses totally had to trust their instinct for footing. When you got down to the bottom of the hill there was a wide water filled ditch you had to cross. Letterman thinks those are for jumping but when he does jump he calmly lands like it was no big deal which makes it not so bad.

I was very impressed by how nicely he was listening. He has a soft mouth and just rides off the seat so when I close my knees he slows down. Makes for a smooth ride because I never have to tug and he doesn’t pull. He rated really nicely going up and down the hills. I also liked that he smartly watched the horse in front of him at all times so that he basically sped up and slowed down based on the other horses which makes for an easy ride on my part. No fighting with him because he had it all figured out.

He wasn’t real keen on standing but for the first time out that is too be expected. He didn’t do anything bad just backed up a bit so I walked circles and then would stand a bit and walk a bit more. By the end, he was standing nicely.

We had been out about 2hrs and the hounds had an amazing run. They were called in and the hound truck was brought around to load them all up. All of the hounds had come but one would not come to the truck because I was standing in the view of the truck. He asked me to move further back and the hound came right in which was interesting. They know the huntsman’s horse but are cautious around the other horses which is probably a good thing.

Loaded up

The only picture of Letterman

Does this horse look at all familiar? This is Top Punch (former CANTER horse) and my friend Alison. I think he was one of the first Delaware Park horses that I sold. She is now whipping in off of him and he totally rocks the hunt field.

Letterman did great with the really loud cracks of the whips. Check that off!

We hacked back to the trailers with some hot horses. Letterman stood really nicely for me to untack and sponge down. He was happy to get on the trailer with his fan on. I headed out quickly to get him home. He had a long day and was tired by that point. He was a bit pissy when he got home and realized he had to get a full bath 🙂 I stuffed him full of treats and he complied.

I just headed back out a little bit ago to give him more carrots. He was such a good boy! He’s so fun to ride and I hope I get to enjoy him a bit longer before he sells. He’s jumping so nicely in the ring. I hope to get him out to an event as well. He’s that total all around horse.

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4 responses to “Letterman goes foxhunting

  1. Jess, that is an incredible story. You have got to be so proud of Letterman, what a great horse.

  2. I just found your blog today. I was searching around on the internet to find out about how much I should expect my OTTB’s trot to change. I’ve had her about 2 weeks now, and ridden her a number of times (great work ethic!) however, her trot it a little choppy and quick in front. Anyways, I found your blog and I’m hooked!! I especially LOVE Letterman! He is one of a kind!

  3. Wish you were closer…I am an intermediate rider in Ohio who LOVES my OTTB mare that I have had for 9 years. We have had to discover the solutions to our problems together. Now that she is 21 I would love to adopt another, though less fiery, TB that could do some low jumping with me. I’ll keep reading…thank you!

  4. Jess, I’m glad to see that you take them hunting. I think hunting helps them get even braver than they sometimes are when they come off the track. I just bought a OTTB 5 yr old gelding at the end of august 2011, he last raced in june. I have been hunting the hounds off of him and he was just perfect at his first opening hunt!!

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