Faster than a Speeding Bullet, More Powerful than a Locomotive

Faster than a speeding bullet

Faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, able to jump downed trees in a single bound. Look! Running after the hounds! It’s Zelda! For sure, Zelda had the locomotive part down pat. Riding her was a bit like being on a runaway train. Without brakes that worked well.

Zelda and I had a bit of a disagreement while hunting last weekend. She’s convinced that I’m doing it wrong. That she should be in the first flight, and keeping up with the hounds. I tried to explain that we were leading the second flight which required a more moderate pace. To reinforce my control, I had moved her up from a Happy Mouth elevator (rubber mouth) to a Neue Schule Anky Universal — a metal bit with a small amount of leverage — and a pair of gloves. In the beginning I thought it made a difference, but that feeling wore off fast.

Zelda’s smart. When we hack between the casts, she conserves her energy and acts so well behaved.

Zelda jumped, she pranced, she went sideways, she tried to pull the reins out of my hands (harder, given that I wore gloves). Twice she spun around and faced the field behind her. In other words, she threw a tantrum. The riders behind me were impressed that I still smiled. One told me that I’d lose 10 pounds during the hunt (regretfully, I didn’t). I never felt like she’d get me off, but I did get a little tired of her antics and she gave me quite a workout. She and I will need to come to an understanding about who is in charge. It may involve moving her up to a pelham. By the time the hunt was over, my gloves were shredded and my hands ached.

It is wonderful to have a horse that is keen on hunting. She’s definitely figured out the game and she has a strong sense of fair play. I think that the next time I take her out I may need to move her up to the first field and let her get her zoomies out. She is quite a competitive horse and does not like to be left behind. The good news is that my ankle is holding up well. Sure, I have it taped up, and yes, it goes a bit numb, but if it can hold up under Zelda’s antics it’s definitely improving. After much experimentation, I’ve found that the saddle that supports me the best right now, and keeps knees and ankles happy, is my old Wintec Pro Jump saddle. Zelda seems to like it too.

The best part of hunting last week was the gorgeous weather. We’re still in the height of the fall foliage season and it was a bright sunny day in the low 70s. You would have thought that the warmer weather might have slowed her down. Maybe it did! But is there a better way to spend a Saturday?

This Saturday’s hunt has been canceled due to the soaking rain we had today. It’s probably not a bad thing as I haven’t had much time to ride this week and, although I’ve ridden her once in a pelham and once in a kimberwicke, I’m not sure yet which one I’ll try next. So, I’ll just look at the photos and remember what a gorgeous day it was.

Off to the next cast
This hunt takes us by some fancy farms (we caused quite a stir among the horses in the paddocks).
Beautiful fall colors
The hunt ended in a beautiful field.
Everyone looked happy.
Everyone ended the hunt smiling.

8 thoughts on “Faster than a Speeding Bullet, More Powerful than a Locomotive

  1. I tried hunting down here in Maryland once on my young TB/Clyde. It scared me so much I never went back. 🙂 Your pictures are beautiful.

    1. Zelda has always been an enthusiastic hunt horse, but after taking some time off for my recovery, she’s gotten very strong and opinionated! I’m testing new bits now and also planning to take her to a hunt where she can keep up in the first field. Maybe she’ll get tired and realize she doesn’t always have to be first.

  2. What an amazing accomplishment for a woman who, just two years ago, broke her ankle, collarbone and knee. Hats off to you.

  3. Have you ever tried her in a double bridle? I have had horses just settle down in the double bridle, the two bits in the mouth seem to reduce any confusion the horse has about what the rider wants.

    The double bridle extends the conversation between horse and rider, and the two bits seem, at least for me, to make my hand aids clearer and I can use a lot less strength to get my message across.

    This morning I just introduced a mare in her mid-twenties that I’ve been riding for years to the double bridle. Her owner said that she understood me in the snaffle, but now EVERYTHING about my hand aids seemed clearer to the horse, the mare was no longer “guessing” what I meant and just relaxed and chilled out, and this was with a sagging curb rein.

    I never got such results with a Pelham.

    1. That’s a very interesting idea. I know a couple of people who hunt in a double, precisely for that reason. I have been riding her in a pelham this week and it hasn’t backed her off much . . . Freedom, as soon as he felt a curb chain, got very polite. When I’m hunting, I don’t want to be hanging on my horse’s mouth all the time, I want to be able to whisper my requests. My first hunt horse, Kroni, was actually voiced trained. I rode him bitless because he listened. If you’re going to have all those reins, it might as well be a double, right?

  4. Yes, it might as well be a double bridle.

    For a while, decades ago, British people hunted mainly in a double bridle, and in some of their show classes a double bridle is required. So much so that they developed the “Show Pelham” which had snaffle loose rings which need a bradoon strap to keep the rings from flopping around, so at a distance the short mouthed pony looked like it is wearing a double.

    Of the Pelhams I’ve tried the Show Pelham is my “favorite” but I got nowhere near the results that I get from the double bridle. They are now languishing in my bit box with a lot of other bits.

    I love “fingertip control”, and the double bridle delivers it for me.

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