At long last Freedom and I made our spring hunt debut. Just as well, as there’s not that much of the season left!
Work has definitely encroached on my riding time this spring. Don’t get me wrong. I’m very, very glad to be this busy. If I have to choose between having lots of time to ride and no money (last year) and more money and little time to ride, the latter still wins hands down. I’ve also had a lot of family commitments on the weekends so while I can often fit in a short hack, hunting was out of the question.
Then there were some other minor mishaps along the way. First I was diagnosed with tendinitis in both my rotator cuff and my biceps tendon. Okay, I guess ignoring that pain until it woke me up at night wasn’t a great idea. Now I’m paying for it, literally and figuratively, with a program of physical therapy. Part of the problem has been that it hurts to ride. Not enough to stop riding but enough to make me think about it. It hurts because Freedom sometimes reverts to racehorse mode and leans on the bit. He can get quite strong and my shoulder really started to ache. My solution was to bit him up. I put him in a Happy Mouth two-ring and used that leverage to back him off the bit. It works to a degree, but he was also mighty offended by it and has been tossing his head a lot in protest. Since that also hurts I put him back in the snaffle.
Then, Freedom had an abscess. His timing was impeccable: I’d been in New York most of the week on business and when I showed up at the barn ready to relax and ride he was standing there on three legs with that “shoot me, I broke my leg” expression on his face. Luckily my farrier was able to make it out that morning to check for (and find) the abscess so I knew it was a relatively minor problem, but annoying nonetheless. Even worse, the abscess was too deep to drain and I had to wait for it to work it’s way out.
This time I tried packing his hoof with Magic Cushion after I soaked in Epsom Salts. It did seem to make a difference and helped draw out the infection. It was about 10 days from when I found the abscess to when we reappeared on the hunt field.
Tuesday’s hunt was glorious. It was a picture perfect day and a great territory. Freedom was pretty well behaved but he was so excited when he heard the hounds that he was jumping out of his skin with anticipation. I’m lucky in that he doesn’t really do anything bad when he’s excited, he just jumps and jigs and generally tries to pull my arms out of my sockets. I had reverted back to his regular snaffle because I’d rather have him on the bit than behind it, but there were times when I questioned that decision.
Truth be told I was a bit concerned about the first hunt. I’m not as fit as I should be and he was very keen. However, once the hounds were cast there wasn’t much time to worry about it and he reminded me why I like to hunt him — he never takes a wrong step and he’s a good, brave horse. The hounds were cast three times and even after we got back he was ready to go out and do it all over again. As for me? I was ready for a nap.
We’re on deck to hunt tomorrow. I can’t wait!