Rise and shine, its 4:30am! What was I doing up at this unreasonable hour? What any normal person does before the sun comes up on a Wednesday morning; getting ready to go fox hunting! But I’m getting ahead of myself, so let me start from the beginning.
Over the summer, one of my friends put me in contact with a lady (I’ll refer to her as BT). She has a farm in the next town over, with some VERY nice ponies! She needed help keeping the ponies in consistent work, and was interested in having me ride for her. I went to her barn, but with going to school full time and working full time, I didn’t have enough time to dedicate to riding. This week I decided to contact her and find out if she was still looking for help keeping the ponies in shape, she was ecstatic. I still wanna take lessons, but I figured the extra riding would help me get back in shape quicker since I only take one lesson a week. The day I contacted BT, she told me she and another girl were going to a fox hunt the next day and invited me to join. Fox hunting isn’t something I’ve ever been interested in trying, but I didn’t want to pass up a chance for a new experience.
Now that you’re all caught up, lets get back to the break of dawn. I had asked BT, the day before, what I should wear. I don’t have a white show shirt or stock tie, so I went with a white with blue stripes show shirt. I also went with my heavily hated, heavy black wool show coat. Luckily, I still had one pair of tan breeches, I don’t like wearing them because they’re midrise and too big.
I had no idea what to expect, so BT gave me a quick run down on the way to the hunt. The place where we parked was my lesson barn. I had texted my trainer a couple of times since my last lesson and he hadn’t been able to schedule me in. While we unloaded our ponies and started grooming, I couldn’t help but keep looking over at the empty barn. I let my mind race with questions, wondering if maybe the trainer was annoyed with me after I refused to lesson on Parker again. I wondered if he would be mad that I started riding with another barn and didn’t tell them. I realized how dumb I was being, my trainer is a really reasonable guy and would probably be happy that I was trying to get in riding shape quick. I turned my attention back to Jolly, my mount for the day. He’s an adorable large Paint pony. We rushed to get ready, but kept taking short breaks so BT could introduce me to all the hunt people. The parking lot was over flowing with rigs, there were a lot more people there than I expected.
As soon as the three of us got mounted on our ponies, we headed across the road to the kennels. We waited there for at least 20 minutes, letting other riders catch up, and letting all of us get nice and frozen. There were 3 groups of riders, we were in what was called first field. This group stayed right with the hounds and they jumped every fence we came across.
As soon as they released the hounds, we were off! We started trotting and I don’t believe we stopped the entire ride. Right as we were getting into the woods, BT’s pony decided Jolly wad too close so she kicked out, but instead of getting him she hit my ankle. At this point I was completely numb from the cold, so I didn’t notice the pain too much. About an hour into the ride, we started coming up on jumps. BT had told me that the jumps were 3’3 and higher, but that there was a path around every jump. I decided before we ever mounted that I’d be taking the path around the jumps. Don’t confuse this with me being nervous, I believe the pony would have no issues and I know I’m capable of doing it when I’m in shape. However, I think its important for every rider to know their limits. In a situation like this it would’ve been very irresponsible for me to go galloping up to a huge fence, land in a heap and fall off. This was only my fifth time back in the saddle in years, and BT completely understood that.
After over two hours of trotting, with no foxes in sight, I was done. I could feel the tears welling up in my eyes from my ankle hurting so much. Every trot stride was agony. I explained to BT and she said we could head back to the trailer. I think she and the other rider were both ready to get back as well. From where we were, it took us an hour to get back to the trailer.
It was such a long day, but we had tons of fun! Even though its not really my thing, I thought it was a great experience!