It was the first day of the fall season and I don’t know who had more fun today, Freedom or me. It’s so nice to ride a horse that enjoys his job! As soon as he heard the hounds, Freedom grew about three inches and launched himself into the air. He cantered in place. He cantered to the first cast (he can canter while other horses walk) and when the field left, I had the distinct feeling we were leaving the starting gate.
It’s been just about a years since I’ve been able to hunt him. His check ligament injury kept him sidelined this spring but it’s obvious that he hasn’t forgotten his “job” and that he just loves to hunt.
My plan had been to ease him into hunting. Maybe hilltop the first few hunts. But he didn’t get the memo. I didn’t jump him at all but I knew that if I didn’t give him a good rolling start with a long canter, he was simply going to bounce his way through the entire hunt. So, we rode with the first flight and fly we did. The good news is that Freedom never bucks (he bounces) and even though he is very high energy, he is completely rateable. He never rides up on another horse and he can stop on a dime. He just gets, well, lofty. He certainly entertained the rest of the field with his leaps, bounds and rocking horse canter. You would never have guessed that I rode him for nearly two hours yesterday to try to take the edge off.
Our first day of hunting was overcast, damp and slightly cool — perfect for scenting. The hounds gave great voice and were wickedly fast so we didn’t get to see much action. However, since I had my hands full, I might not have been able to pay them much attention.
After the first piece he was lathered and quiet. He stood on a loose rein and I hoped that he was going to chill for the second cast. No such luck, he was merely catching his breath. When the hounds came out of the truck for the cast he started to canter in place again and we were off like a shot. Days like these I am very glad that he is so sure-footed because I don’t have to worry about cantering down hills or along rocky, root strewn trails. He barely touches the ground.
He was very quite annoyed with me when I gapped the jumps but there was no way I was going to let him jump. He simply wasn’t paying enough attention to me and I want to see how is leg holds up before I start adding any more impact. I know that he was powered by adrenalin today so even though he felt great, there was no way to know for sure how he would stand up to the fast ride.
Hacking to the third cast, I noticed that another member’s horse had thrown a front shoe so I opted to hack back to the start with her. We had a great run today and I wanted him to have a long, slow cool down. It started to pour on our way back but Freedom and I were both so hot that it was welcome.
His leg looked really good after the ride and still looked fine when we got home. It’s cool and tight — not a hint of swelling. Still, I poulticed it and wrapped it just to be on the safe side. If I could wrap him in bubble wrap I probably would.