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

Friday, August 31, 2012

Children's Hunt

Last Saturday Wentworth held their annual Children's Hunt where the youths are the guests of honor.  What an incredible turnout we had!  In years past, the juniors were slight in numbers, but this year, we had 12, I believe, and the total number of riders in the fields was around 40!  That's awesome.  The hunt was at our fixture in Lee, NH, a lovely working farm that also happens to be home to our pack of hounds.
Someone was so nice to ask for my camera to take a photo of us.  We're always behind the lens and never infront of it! :)  Here we are at the polo field, awaiting the start of the hunt.

Our new huntsman and the hounds arrive.

And we're off!  It was fabulous riding with so many people (and so many capable young people!) 

Riders gathered at a check, waiting for the hounds to burst out of the woods, working the line.  This hunt is set up very well for all fields to get a great view of the hounds as they run!
Here they come!

And there goes the huntsman after them.
We even crossed the river.
Which was quite low, given the drought we've had this summer.  When we made it out of the woods and into the fields again, the hounds came bursting over the hill, heading right for us!
Such a wonderful sight to see.  A pack of happy, running foxhounds. :)  Tomorrow is a very important hunt in Rochester, NH at one of my favorite fixtures.  I will be back with photos and a full report!  Tally ho!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Daatje checks out the new digs.

With only 2 weeks to go until I had planned on bringing the horses home, it's hard to imagine the work left to be done!  We've already accomplished a lot though, and the mini's paddock is fully enclosed, so I figured I'd stop to get hay on my way home from the hunt on Saturday and let Daatje out to graze and check out the new surroundings.  
Checking out the mini's paddock
I've had her at the property before, but not since the fencing went up.  She unloaded, looked at the fencing and immediately was on the search for the horses who she was sure lived there!  Silly mare, you live here!  Well, not quite yet, but almost!  She was so comfortable and at home that after 30 minutes of grazing, I went to catch her to bring her back to my parents house and she ran away from me! :P  I had to laugh as she never does that.  The grass must be good!  I much prefer a dirt paddock, especially for the minis, so Daatje is going to have to help them with that.  The plan is to mow it down really, really short and suck up the clippings in the bagger so the chance of Rainbow getting laminitis again is greatly reduced.  Won't do that until the day before they come home though, or the grass will just grow back!  It was so hard to load her up and bring her back to Mom and Dad's.  I wanted her to stay!  Two more weeks.......only two more weeks...

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Foxhunting has begun!

Daatje and I at Stirrup Cup

What a great hunt today.  We went out from Fine Nest Farm in Raymond, a lovely fixture with winding hilly trails through the woods and rolling fields seemingly in the middle of no where.  It started out a rainy day and I was so bummed to think the first hunt of the season (for me, hunting actually started last Wednesday) was going to be soggy, but the sun came out and it was just beautiful!

Our club has a new huntsman, who's done such a great job of assimilating into the roll from whipper-in.  The hounds were fabulous today!  The hunt was slower as they had two brand new hounds out for the first time and a lot of the younger ones out also.  I was very impressed with how well they packed in and the few lines they took through the fields had great voice!

The black horse in the photo above is a Friesian cross ridden by the 2nd Field Master and in the distance, you can see some riders from the 1st field.  The roan is a Standarbred (cross, I think) the middle chestnut is a fiery Morgan named Winchester (Chesta the molesta!) and the 1st Field Master rides a big warmblood of sorts named Truman.  This was such a lovely setting with the golden grass, the hounds running the line and the horses following!  What a thrill.
At the tea today, they had a "hunt clinic" where anyone was invited to come and learn about the traditions of foxhunting and were offered a free capping for attending.  We had quite a few new faces and many new young people so that was very exciting!  The next hunt for us will be in Lee, NH on next Saturday and then I'm debating heavily on whether or not to make the treck to northern VT for the joint meet with the Green Mountain Hounds on August 26th.  That will depend on trailer pooling, I suppose, with gas prices the way they are.  The season has begun, more hunt photos to follow!  (perhaps some of us too!) :)

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Early Morning Riding

So early, in fact, that the moon was still up!

I've been sneaking in rides between 5am and 6am these days because that's the only time I have!  Bonus:  It's nice and cool
Drawback:  I'm exhausted!

Absolutely worth it, though.  So nice to be spending time with my mare.  It sets the tone for the day and I feel fantastic having already ridden before work.

On the home front, the stalls are nearly done!  I put their name plates on the doors yesterday. :)
And my Dad finished the center divider.
I can't wait until the horses come home!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

WNRDC Stadium Practice Day

Figures that after all this drought we've had, the ONE day I signed up to do something with my horse all summer; it rains.  Pfft.

But, once you've been foxhunting in wind driven, 40°F blinding rain (opening meet 2009 baby!) what's a little drizzle, right?

Blessing of the Hounds, October 2009
Anyway, I was trying to think out a strategy for the day on the way over to Pipestave and succeeded in getting myself wound into a ball of nerves.  Daatje isn't the most confident girl over fences (when she isn't following a herd of horses!) and I get worried that I'll get frustrated with her if she gets balky at stuff.  A frustrated rider and a tuned-out horse doesn't make for a great day!  (It's happened)

We arrived and Daatje munched hay in the trailer while I went to the ring to register and check out the first practice course.  When I saw the itsy-bitsy cross rails in the ring I immediately relaxed.  Don't get me wrong, it's not that I'm a weenie about the jumps, quite the contrary.  (Put me on a pony that's game and I'll jump anything they will, it's happened!)  But, with fences *that* low, Daatje could walk over them if she got a mental hang-up and that thought totally made my day.  My goal was to make this a positive experience for the little lady (and me too!)

We were running a bit late, so I walked the little course once just to get my bearings and went to bridle the big girl.

She's such a champ when it comes to travelling.  Unloaded herself off the trailer nice and slow and waited patiently while I finished tacking her up and hopped on.

At ringside, one of the gracious volunteers of the WNRDC was offering coaching to anyone who wanted it.  I figured it'd be awesome to have eyes on the ground and feedback while I rode through the course, so we took advantage of it. 

The teensy 18" cross rails went quite well.  Better than I expected, actually.  Daatje looked at the flowers and some of the brightly colored fences, but (and here's the kicker) she didn't really care about the surroundings!  (yay!) She was attentive and listening to me quite well.

So, off we went on another 18" round of the 7 little fences.  Smooth and forward.  In fact, the coach kept telling me to slow down!  In between rounds we sat on the rail and watched the other riders go.  We completed two rounds at 18", two at 2', one at 2'3" and ended our day with a course of 2'6", which rolled along pretty smoothly considering Daatje was pretty pooped out by then. :) 

So, there you have it.  We did a course of 2'6" away from home, in a strange ring over strange fences........and had it been a competition, we would not have been eliminated!  She didn't even touch a rail.

Hmmm....does this mean a 2-phase or odd jumper show could be in our future next year?

Wouldn't that be cool.

Next up is the WWH Hunter Pace on August 11th.  I'll be riding with a new pace rider I've never met who has an OTTB that may need a babysitter.  :)  There will be photos.