Hunting mid-week is one of those guilty pleasures. There’s little better than sneaking away for a few hours on a Tuesday morning and going for a gallop in the woods with friends. It is one of the real benefits of working for myself.
This week’s hunt was particularly good. For a start, the weather was amazing. The weekend heat wave was over and the temperatures were in the low 60s and sunny. Seemingly overnight the trees have started to turn and are now entering their full glory of golden yellows and bright reds.
The hunt started just the way Freedom and I like it — with a long gallop. It settled both horses and hounds and got us all off to a good start. It’s much more difficult when you start off full tilt and then have to hold hard to wait for the hounds. The horses are unsettled and it’s hard to get their minds back.
By the time we slowed to a walk, we had a tremendous view of the hounds working the scent in the woods right off the main trail. Freedom was entranced. He loves to watch the hounds and here they were, practically under foot! Several times I had to prevent him from leaning over and giving one of them a good snuffle.
During the first run the hounds gave amazing tongue. This was the most “music” that I’ve heard this season and it was delightful to follow.
Freedom felt great and, in a nice change from Saturday’s hunt, his brain was engaged and he was listening to my aids. Instead of bouncing in place and flipping his head he was relaxed and forward, but obedient. The first series of jumps are small and when he isn’t listening to me, he can get too fast. I rode at the back of the first field so that I had the chance to keep him balanced. There are about six jumps in that first run and he took them in stride and went right to the base. It was the best that I’ve felt him jump since he was diagnosed with Lyme.
The second cast was into the woods by Fairhaven Bay. I’ve written about this territory before — it’s right next to Walden Pond and the trail system takes you over to the lake and to the replica of Thoreau’s cabin. It’s still a very peaceful place where you see only a few people on the trails. I think on Tuesday we had the woods to ourselves.
The second part of the hunt took us over the larger fences. I jumped most of them but decided that I didn’t want to over stress Freedom on his first outing over fences. I admit that I still worried about him jumping poorly and didn’t want to experience it over the solid log fences.
Once again the hounds gave great tongue and the pack finished up almost complete. The aptly named Diva was the last to come in but eventually she also turned up.
Happily, there were also no bees.
On Tuesdays our tea is a tailgate but this one was exceptionally well stocked. With several kinds of salad, cheese and crackers and a cake there were no complaints — except that we all had to go back to work!