The spring hunt season went by way too fast. We had our last two hunts over the Memorial Day weekend and were lucky to have great weather, albeit a tad warm. I managed to squeeze in five hunts in the end — not as many as I would have liked, but since the last three were fabulous, I’ll take it.
The hounds were impressive. The puppies are hunting well and listening to the huntsman. It was a pleasure to watch them. We hunted some great territories with beautiful fields.
But what really thrilled me is that Freedom really “got it” this season. The first two times we hunted were, well, interesting. Especially the second one where he put his head down, leaned on the bit and kicked into over drive. I’m not sure I’ve ever felt that type of acceleration outside of a sports car. Then everything changed.
Enter a new bit.
I’d been hunting Freedom in a loose ring snaffle, which is his regular bit. Up until this season it was enough. However, as Freedom learned about hunting (and became more enthusiastic) along with my injured shoulder, it wasn’t enough. I’m going to talk more about different bitting solutions in a future post, but I’ll say now that switching to a Kimberwicke was like magic. All of a sudden I had a horse that politely asked how fast I wanted to go instead of running for the roses. Not only was he easy to rate on the flat, but he also became much easier to jump in the group. Up until the last three hunts he got excited and ran at the fences. With the Kimberwicke he was soft and adjustable.
I wasn’t sure that the bit was the answer at first, but after three hunts I’m pretty convinced.
These last three hunts helped us end on a very positive note. I rode him in the first field and jumped most of the fences with the field. Last year that proved to be too stimulating for him. He need to drop behind the field and trot the jumps. This year, the penny dropped. He figured out how to canter the fences and stay with the field.
During the last hunt those fences came up fast and I was very pleased by how well he handled the lines. He jumped a few drop fences in style and never even hesitated before a jump. We had some serious air time over a few of those fences, so maybe by the fall I’ll teach him how gauge the height of the fences so we don’t have to clear them with quite so much to spare.