The first day of the 2012 spring hunting season was, in a word, fabulous!
The weather for hunting was perfect — bright, sunny and not too warm. For a weekday we had a strong turnout; lots of people took the day off to enjoy our first day back.
Freedom was ready, and then some. It amazes me how the experienced hunters know their jobs so well. Although Freedom was excited as hacked to where the hounds were cast, he stood like a statue watching the hounds come out of the truck — like the other hunt horses, his focus was on them. As the hounds picked up the scent, he was with them. He watched the horses in front of him and kept an ear tuned to the hounds at all time. For a horse that sometimes doesn’t want to pass a strange dog on the trails, he could care less when a hound runs up under his legs or jump out of the woods. It’s his job and he’s all work.
The hounds stayed on the scent well. We were lucky to have several inches of rain on Monday which helped the scent hold and also made the footing much better.
I wasn’t sure how he was going to be. All week he’d been Spooky with a capital S. He was looking for any excuse to jump out of his skin. While he wanted to gallop, he was focused and didn’t argue too much when I asked him to slow down. We jumped the small fences (and the many, many fallen trees that littered the trails) but I opted to be conservative since it was only our second time out jumping xc since last fall.
Our field leader held a good pace throughout. We moved along, for sure, but I was glad that she kept the pace reasonable. Some of the horses that came out weren’t that fit; others need a few hunts to regain their equilibrium. It was certainly fast enough that it tired me out. I never got to my post yesterday because I fell asleep on the couch!