The chronicles of a Friesian mare who happened upon an owner who lives outside the show ring....

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Hunt at Yorkfield Farm

Well, yesterday I took a vacation day to foxhunting during the week.  It was well worth it!  The weather was nearly perfect, if not a little warm for the season.  There was a great turnout!  The hounds were wonderful to watch and listen to and we had many good gallops through the fields.  Total mileage was 10.63 and the top speed was 23.4mph. :)  Daatje was going strong right up to the end.

Here's a video clip of one of the great gallops: 

This was amazing because last year, I thought she was all done hunting.  She had absolutely no second wind, and after the hunts would have this dull, exhausted look on her face.  I thought she was beginning to lose interest and that the hard work and exertion was becoming too much for her.  Not wanting to give up, I did some research and decided to try supplementing with Vitamin E.  It couldn't hurt, and might only help, so I figured it was worth a try.  She's been on 4,000 IU of naturally occuring Vitamin E a day for about a year now and I have more horse under me than I ever thought possible!

She's strong in the gallops, so much so that I'm often testing my brakes only to find I don't have much!  Not a problem I'm going to complain about, that's for sure.

The other element that I changed was her saddle.  For the past two seasons, she's been very back sore after the meets.  Her saddles fit according to the saddle fitters, but she was so muscle sore in her back that when I would run my fingers down on either side of her spine she'd tense up and give me dagger eyes.

I have hunted her in many different saddles to no avail so as a final effort to increase her working comfort level, I decided to order a Sensation G4 Jump treeless saddle.  I made a special weight distributing pad to go under it and off we went, testing out at the spring hunter paces and what not.  I LOVE it.  It is the most comfortable saddle I have ever sat in!  Sensation makes endurance saddles, so this should come as little surprise.  A bit funky looking, but let me tell you, Daatje's back has not been ONE BIT SORE since switching to this saddle.  So, I think between the Vitamin E and a saddle that works for her, she's feeling great!  Makes for a very happy Mum. :)

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Wentworth Hunt Hunter Trials

I mentioned earlier that I took Daatje to the Wentworth Hunt Hunter Trials despite the fact that history has shown whenever I try to participate in solo activities, Daatje sees to it that we are eliminated in the most humiliating fashion.

Well, I thought it was high time to get over myself and just do it.  We've been working on some of her issues and attitude so I thought the WWH Trials was a good a place as any to test out our progress.  As you can see by the smile on my face in the above photo, Daatje gave (mostly) all the right answers to my questions. :)  She was extremely angry with me in the beginning for taking her down away from the other horses to the start area.  I rode her through it, despite her throwing her body around in a total tantrum.  When presented to the first jump, she stopped and put a front hoof on it. 

Unphased, I re-presented her and she jumped, yay!  The second fence was a small stack of telephone poles at the crest of a big hill.  She got up to the top of the hill and was focusing on the new scenery beyond the jump, so she stopped once at that as well.  Second try, she jumped just fine. 

After that, she was great!  The third fence was a big log that she sucked back for just a split second, but then jumped it.  The rest were smooth and easy.  There were 16 obstacles in total, including a gone away, hold hard, gate and lead over.

The last jump was this nicely sized log in the jump ring.  She was tired (lots of big hills!) but did a great job getting over it.  Go Daatje!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Cubbing season is underway!

Hooray!  Although circumstances have kept me from going out as often as I'd like to this early in the season.  In fact, they're the same set of circumstances that have kept me from blogging for the past two months!  In short, we bought our first house.  Lots to do, fix, repair, throw away, trees to remove, barn to renovate.....not leaving much time for anything else!  I think I rode a grand total of three times in August.  Ptooy. 

Well, now that we're situated and things have normalized a little bit, I'm back to post hunt updates and happenings with Daatje and I.

Last Saturday, 9/3, we had a lovely hunt at Prodigue Farm in Rochester, one of my all time favorite fixtures!  The gracious host prepared hot mulled cider to warm the riders up prior to setting off.

Here's a nice shot of the hounds warming up with the huntsman and whipper-in.

And a shot of the photographer on her trusty steed. :)

I must say, it was one of the nicest hunts so far this year!  (not taking into consideration I've only attended two!)  This coming Saturday, 9/17, we'll be at Garrison House in Durham and I'm hoping to get some nice photos of the hounds working.  Daatje's been very excitable and I've had to keep two hands on the reins more often than usual. :)

On a very cool note, today, 9/11, was the very first (hopefully annual) Wentworth Hunt Hunter Trials!  Daatje and I decided to compete last minute and I am so glad we did.  Those of you who know Daatje and I and the issues we've had over the past 5 years (her flat out refusing to go off away from whatever she considers "home base") know this was a HUGE DEAL.

I've been working on not giving up or giving in to her tantrums when she doesn't want to be in a place that I've put her and it seems to be paying off.  Today, Daatje completed the entire course of 16 obstacles and we only had two refusals, one at fence 1 and one at fence 2.  After that, she was really getting into it and seemed to have a good time!  Hooray!  I know there were several people taking photos, so I'll be back with some pics (evidence that we did it!) later on.

I'll leave you today with a shot of Daatje after the "gone away" up the hill to the stirrup cup.  She is starting this season out better than ever! :)