It’s hard to accept that the Spring hunting season is already half over. Cubbing season never lasts long enough. The first hunt of the season arrived so early that I didn’t feel quite ready. Freedom was still starting out each ride a bit off (from what I think is a pulled muscle) and I didn’t want to overface him. Once the adrenalin kicks in, he’ll keep going no matter what.
Today we hunted for our fifth time this season. We also participated in one faux hunt (it rained, but several of us rode the territory anyway and used it as a jumping school — more about the challenges of riding in the rain later).
We started out this spring taking it easy and I kept the jumps to a minimum. Since he didn’t seem to feel any worse after hunting I started challenging him a bit more. For the most part, he’s been jumping really well; I’ve even taken a few new fences this year that we hadn’t attempted in years past. I’m really pleased by how brave he’s been and how scopey. Today we got some serious air time over a panel jump. He sure doesn’t want to touch anything. Just as well as I was riding in my Wintec with full seat breeches — I needed the “velcro” effect.
Freedom certainly loves to hunt but he’s learned how to conserve his energy. Not too long ago he would jig the entire hunt and would never stand still for the check. Now he snoozes at the check on a loose rein and only springs to life when the hounds are cast. Then, he’s right on it and does not want to be left behind. The Kimberwicke that got him listening really well last fall does not have quite the same effect now and he still has a bit of the spring sillies — last week he was spooking right and left as we were cantering down one trail. My knees were not happy!
The biggest problem I’ve had this season has been with my hoof boots. After hunting for several seasons with no issues I’ve had two boots come off (funnily enough, they came off at the same venue, several weeks apart). The problem is, his feet have gotten bigger. I know that it’s a good thing. After being barefoot for 18 months his hooves have never looked better. However, he is now too large for the size 2 Cavallo boots and too small for the size 3 boots. I tried putting a gel pad in the boot (at the recommendation of a distributor) to make the boots fit a bit tighter. I even used cable ties to close the velcro straps! I’m going to have to work on this because it’s incredibly inconvenient to stop a galloping horse in the midst of the hunt field to put the boot back on.
Luckily for the boots but unfortunately for me, I won’t be able to hunt this weekend or next Tuesday. I’ll have to have another plan by then because I don’t want to miss any more of the few remaining hunts!