Monday was the last hunt of the season and while it came too soon, it was a glorious way to end.
The weather was lovely and we rode in one of my favorite territories. I was very glad that I had my camera in my pocket because it was a picture perfect day. I’m getting better at riding one handed!
Freedom was remarkably good given that I hadn’t ridden him since Thursday. I wasn’t sure what kind of ride to expect so I started him in the back of the jumping field. He was in fine form and was eager to jump . . . but not too eager.
The hounds left the first cast with enthusiasm and ran well. After a short swim in the pond (it was hot!) some got diverted off on a side trail (there were lots of dog walkers and deer out) but were called back by our huntsman.
The next stretch is full of jumps and we had a great time. Freedom was looking for each jump and was very bold.
The check was at a lovely meadow where the grass was up past the riders’ feet! It was an excellent location for
pictures. While at the check I mentioned to our huntsman that I’d like to learn to whip in (assist with the hounds) and much to my surprise and pleasure I was invited to ride up with the staff for the last piece of the hunt.
The concept of leaving the field to follow the hounds is still a novel one to Freedom but when I asked him to follow the hounds he caught on fast and didn’t hesitate. Unfortunately, the scent was light for the last stretch. Heat and time had taken their toll and the temptation of deer was strong. Some of the pack took off after the deer but several continued on with us.
I have a lot to learn about whipping in — keeping behind the hounds and never (but never) taking your eyes off them for a second — was a start. I plan to spend some time over the summer walking the hounds and getting to know them (and letting them get to know me).
I’m really looking forward to learning this next phase of hunting and better understanding how the hounds work. When I started hunting there was too much to take in and I was very focused on
my horse. Now that Freedom “gets” hunting, I’ve started watching the hounds more. It’s fascinating to watch working dogs doing their job. I’m looking forward to riding up with the hounds and getting a better view!
The heat kept the hunt on the shorter side but we had champagne punch to look forward to at the tea so I don’t think anyone minded heading back in.
I can’t wait until the fall!