The highlight of the Fall Hunter Pace season in New England is most definitely the pace event in Westport, Mass. sponsored by Norfolk Hunt Club. The pace takes you through remarkably beautiful landscape with dramatic water views. Much of the land is only open to the public for this ride.
I don’t often go, because it’s quite a drive. This year my husband offered to ride shotgun down there with me (you know from reading my blog that I hate trailering on the highway, especially when it’s route 128 outside of Boston).
There were omens from the beginning that things might not go exactly to plan. First, I overslept. I had turned the sound off on my phone and so my alarm didn’t go off. It meant hurrying a bit to make sure we got there in time to meet the peole I was riding with, but we pulled it off, pulling up only a few minutes late.
Then Freedom threw a small tantrum when he came off the trailer. Usually, he stands quietly to be tacked up, but I had to wrestle his bridle on and there were a few moments where I thought he might get away from me. I didn’t realize quite how much he’d struggled until the bruises appeared on my arm!
We headed off down the trail and everything was great. Until, Freedom started to feel not-quite-right. He’d felt a bit footsore when I’d hunted him on Monday, so I’d put hoof boots on his hinds, and had tested them on Wednesday with a two hour ride.
At first he felt just a tad off, but the more we rode, the worse he felt. His left hind was definitely bothering him. This was the hoof that had the abscess from hell last year; the abscess that continued to cause trouble this year as the damage to his coronary band grew down his hoof. Could it possibly be bothering him again?
When we got to the check I decided to let the rest of the team go on and I took the short way back. He felt good enough to jig continuously for the first five minutes and I thought I might experience a full racing start when we passed the cows, so he’s not so lame that there’s an obvious cause. My farrier is coming on Thursday so I’ll have her put hoof testers on that hoof. If she can’t find anything, I’ll have have the vet out. It may be time to x-ray that foot.
In the meantime, he’s lazing around the pasture walking just fine. No heat, no swelling, nothing obviously wrong. Ahhh, horses!
There is much to enjoy when foxhunting: the thrill of galloping across big open fields, the partnership you feel with your horse, the beauty of the territories, the fun of sharing it with your friends.
And, the splendor of watching the hounds work. Watching them sort out a line, follow the scent and listening to the music of the hounds voices is a treat.
I didn’t start to appreciate the hound work until I’d hunted for awhile. At first, staying on, keeping my horse under control, and avoiding faux pas were top of mind. The hounds were more than I could take in. To be honest, my horses started watching the hounds first. Kroni, and then Freedom, figured out that hunting is all about the hounds. They watch them like hawks. Zelda is still a bit more interested in the other horses; Freedom? he could care less.
So Freedom was thrilled when we were invited to ride up with the huntsman on Monday. He got to follow the hounds up close and personal. There was a lot of bouncing and some enthusiastic leaps and bounds. He was determined not to miss anything.
I wish that I’d had a third hand that day: there were some amazing photographs that are recorded only in my brain — open fields, fall foliage, and hound! We were moving too fast and I really needed both hands on the reins. But I did get some lovely shots before and after the main event.
Since I’m lucky enough to have two horses to hunt right now, I’m giving them each a turn. Last Tuesday was Zelda’s turn. I like this territory — it’s got some lovely open fields and is only about ten minutes from my barn.
Zelda has been feeling frisky. I’d taken her on a hunter pace the Sunday before and she had thought long and hard about bucking. Usually if I growl at her she settles down but I’m sure there were a few teams out there who wondered what kind of wild animal was out in the woods!
On Tuesday, my strategy was simple. I wanted to tire her out. I got to the fixture early and put her to work. I had my tracker on and we logged almost three miles at a trot and canter before the hunt had even started!
The pre-hunt workout worked well. No bucking although Zelda was pretty strong the whole 8 miles. I’d brought a new pair of gloves, which turned out to be too small, and my hands were complaining bitterly by the end.
I’ve written before about the conundrum of receiving payment for share rides or charging to ship other people’s horses. In a nutshell, if you receive payment for the use of your trailer, you become a commercial hauler in the eyes of the insurance industry. You may void your insurance entirely — a real problem if there’s an accident.
Loaning out your trailer has similar ramifications. It’s all fine until it isn’t. And then it really can be a problem.
If you decide you want to loan or rent your trailer, you should consider investing in a Horse Trailer Use Agreement or Horse Trailer Rental Agreement from Equine Legal Solutions. It may seem like overkill but it’s always better to have all the contingencies spelled out — and understood — before there’s a problem.
Designed for horse trailer owners who desire to lend or rent their trailers to someone else, these forms will protect the horse trailer owner in the event that something happens when another party is using the trailer. Both forms include clauses that require the user/renter to accept responsibility for any damage that occurs during their use/rental of the trailer, as well as the user/renter having adequate insurance and driver’s license/endorsements for towing the trailer. Also included are checklists to ensure inspection of the trailer before use, tasks required before the trailer is returned, and a list of contents. The rental agreement includes deposit and payment information.
The new equine legal forms can be purchased for $39.99 each, or together in a package for the discounted price of $74.99.
There’s been a lot of debate over whether a baucher bit exerts pressure on a horse’s poll. I’ve written about it before. But I still hear people claim that they like the bit because of the poll pressure.
Now, the bit company Neue Schule had done a study that shows something surprising: Not only does the baucher not exert pressure on the poll, it actually relieves it! That’s just one of the findings in a recent study conducted by the Neue Schule team to answer a key question posed by the company founder and bitting guru, Heather Hyde — namely, how much poll pressure each bit in the Neue Schule range produces, according to cheek type.
The results are, in some instances, straight forward and in others help to resolve longstanding debates.
“These results actually didn’t surprise us at all because there is no lever in this bit and therefore it cannot apply any poll pressure,” Neue Schule manager of research Caroline Beniost told Horse & Hound.
“We actually presented this data at the International Society for Equitation Science in Saumur, France, in June and it was very well received there. We just wanted to end the debate on this one once and for all.”
-Horse & Hound Magazine
Extensive tests were carried out by the Neue Schule team using two sensors – one applied to the cheek piece, the other to the rein.
The recorded tension was transmitted to a central computer and a rating was calculated to show how much poll pressure each type of bit created.
“The research culminated in some surprises, as well as reiterating many of our suspicions,” said Heather Hyde, Neue Schule’s founder. “It will be a great tool to dispel some of the long-standing misconceptions surrounding the action of bits.”