Tally ho! The fall foxhunting season has started and Zelda and I have been getting out a bit more. After staying close to home this summer, the fall hunt season kicked off and the last two hunts were quite close by. I was on the fence about hunting. Truthfully, my left ankle is still not back to normal. I had a scary moment about a month ago, when I dismounted after a long ride with friends, took a few steps across a parking lot and fell like a stone. My ankle had given way with no advanced notice. It had happened to me before during my recovery, but not for some time. So much for believing I’d completely healed.
So, I spent some time working on strengthening my ankle: I did toe raises on my daughter’s mini trampoline, tried to hold a half seat and did a lot of posting trot.
The first hunt I went to was only 10 minutes away. You can’t beat that. I decided it was close enough for me to come home if I didn’t feel right, and I know the territory well enough that I could always turn back. Of course, that would depend if Zelda would let me!
Zelda loves to hunt. I’d forgotten quite how keen she gets when out in the hunt field, lulled by the lazy persona she wears at home. Once she sees the hounds, all bets are off. She becomes a bouncing, snorting freight train who wants to be right in the mix. Forget that second field nonsense. Of course, since technically, I’m still in charge, we did stay in the second field and the mare who tells me it’s too challenging to canter a 15 meter circle in the ring, managed to canter sideways down a dirt path without missing a beat. She has an amazing collected canter. In fact, she can canter while most horses around her are trotting, which is an extra benefit to my ankle. Cantering is much easier on it than posting.
This is one of my favorite territories to hunt. The route takes us along the banks of a river and through some amazing fields. I didn’t get to take as many photos as I would have liked. Zelda required both hands on the reins for most of my ride.
It was a beautiful day to be out. The weather in the morning was cool and a bit misty, giving the early fall foliage a muted palette. Fall is one of the reasons to live in New England — it’s hard to beat the color scheme, the lack of bugs and the cooler temperatures. Even better, we did not encounter ground bees.
So, how did my ankle hold up? I lost touch with it about an hour into the ride. It didn’t hurt, but it worried me a tad to have it go numb. My plan for getting off was to dismount onto a mounting block (Zelda’s a big girl so it’s a long way down). Luckily, one of our human “foxes” was on hand and offered to hold Zelda while I sat down and did ankle rotations. He even brought my saddle back to the trailer so Zelda could have a roll in the host’s sand ring.
Properly rested, I managed to get her back on the trailer and home without incident. I will admit that I also had enough KT tape on my ankle and knee to make it look like I had an exoskeleton underneath my breeches.