Maryland Hunt Cup a two horse race

Woody Allen once said that 80% of success is showing up. The 2017 Maryland Hunt Club demonstrated the truth to that statement when eight out of the 10 starters failed to

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Derwins Prospector (left) and Drift Society battle it out in the Maryland Hunt Cup. After 8 out of 10 entries fell, it literally became a two horse race.

finish. The result? Long shot Derwins Prospector crossed the finish line three-quarters of a length ahead of Drift Society to take home the $60,000 winner’s purse.

The Maryland Hunt Cup lived up to it’s reputation as the toughest timber race this year. With three miles to go, only four horses remained. Field leader Old Timer held on until the second to last fence before unseating his jockey.

The unlikely winner was described as a “superb jumper” by Joseph Davies. Unfortunately, last year, he unseated his rider at the first fence. This year, Davies arranged for French jockey, Gozague Cottreau, to take the reins. The pair finished fourth at the Grand National in Butler, where he finished fourth.

 

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Dressage at Rolex

After two days of dressage, Clark Montgomery on Loughan is firmly in the lead with an impressive 33.6%.

Michel Jung and FischerRocana sits in second place with 37.1%.

Kim Severson and Cooley Cross Border are in third place with 41.0%.

Perhaps stealing the show was the retirement ride by Allison Springer and Arthur.

Sprenger chose to retire the 18 year old Irish Sport Horse gelding at what would have been his eighth start at Rolex. Arthur was recently diagnosed with aortic regurgitation — leakage from the aortic valve, which is a common degenerative problem in older horses.

“Arthur is my one of my oldest friends. He and I have traveled the

world together, and we have had many moments of triumph and some moments of heartbreak, but in every moment, he has been my partner and I have always been incredibly proud to get to ride him,” Allison said.

 

Get ready for the Maryland Hunt Cup

The Maryland Hunt Cup may be the closest thing we have in the States to the Grand National. The four mile race includes 22 timber fences, with several of the jumps approaching 5′. The 121st running will take place this Saturday, April 29th.

Program fro 1804 Hunt Cup
The first Maryland Hunt Cup was run in 1894 and was won by Johnny Miller owned and ridden by John McHenry.

The race began in 1894 as a competition between the Elkridge Fox Hunting Club and the Green Spring Fox Hunting Club to determine which hunt had the best horses. The first year entries were limited to members of the two hunt clubs. The next year it was opened up to horses owned and ridden by members of any recognized hunt in Maryland. In 1903,  it was expanded to horses owned and ridden by members of any Hunt Club in North America. Today, there is no restriction on where the horses and riders come from. The only thing that has stayed the same is that the jockeys must be amateur riders.

One For Arthur Wins the Grand National

For those of you who missed the 2017 Grand National, it’s safe to watch the replay. Although many horses and riders fell, no injuries were reported. All the horses made it back safely to the barn.

One For Arthur
One For Arthur with his two owners Belinda McClung and Deborah Thompson.

Winning the big race was One For Arthur, trained by Lucinda Russell and ridden by Derek Fox.

One For Arthur is only the second Scottish trained horse to win the Grand National. One For Arthur, an 8-year old bay gelding, is named after Arthur Guinness, Ireland’s most famous brewers. He is owned by Belinda McClung and Deborah Thomson, two old school friends whose partners spend so many hours on the golf course that they decided to call their partnership “Two Golf Widows.” Needless to say, their husbands were at the National to see Arthur romp home. Quite an outcome for two people who bought the horse for fun!

Jockey Derek Fox rode a very strategic race. You would never know that he broke his left wrist and right collarbone just one month ago after a fall with a novice hurdler.

One For Arthur
One For Arthur jumps into the lead at the Grand National

 

Everything is turning green

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Catching Zelda in her pasture has been a bit tricky. Her version of spring fever has her racing around her pasture. Some days I get a lot more exercise walking back and forth trying to catch her than from riding.

I love Spring in New England. The land is emerging from hibernation. The days are getting longer. And it’s a lovely time to go for a ride. I really enjoy seeing the landscape change. What was recently a winter wonderland is now verdant and warm.

Of course, with the advent of warmer weather, the trails in my area have been inundated with dogs running off leash. I wish that there was a common understanding of what “under control” means. Many people have a very loose interpretation, that’s for sure. On some really beautiful days I’ve stayed off the public trails because it’s just not safe. Recently, a friend of mine was riding in a nearby town and her horse was attacked and bitten by a dog when she was trail riding. Six puncture wounds on his hind legs and all the owner said was, “we didn’t know how he’d be with horses.”

These photos were taken on private land. I’m extremely fortunate to have permission to ride there.

 

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It wasn’t long ago that we were making tracks in fresh snow here.
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The leaves are appearing on the trees and we often find deer sleeping by the pond. Often they let me ride quite close, reluctant to get up.
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I love her red bridle!

To Tie or Not to Tie

It’s no secret that I hate trailering. It’s not that I’m a bad driver, or that my horses are bad at trailering. I just have a very active imagination and I worry about how they are traveling and what could go wrong. Maybe it’s because I live in an area where people are more likely to cut you off while you’re pulling a trailer, completely oblivious to your inability to stop quickly.

This video takes a literal look at how horses travel depending on how they are tied. It definitely gives me pause. I always tie my horses in the trailer, although they are tied loosely. I’ve never tried removing the partition in my trailer, either.

I now trailer with an “IBall” camera keeping watch over the horses. I think I’ll need to experiment with how I tie them.

How about you? Do you tie your horse in place? And do you watch how they travel?

The trials of selling a horse

I haven’t sold many horses but this looks exceedingly, distressingly familiar.

The best was when someone came to try a horse I had for sale, rode her, loved her and then asked if I would let her go as a free lease. Um, no.

I know it’s hard to find a good horse to buy, but when you are looking, remember how hard it is to sell one, too!

I had my hands full

Hounds at attention
I love how the hounds are standing at attention. Of course, they are waiting for treats!

Today was the first hunt of the Spring season and boy, did I have my hands full! I thought about that idiom while I was driving back from the hunt and my fingers felt stiff and swollen holding the steering wheel. The expression may not have derived from an equestrian meaning, but it certainly could have. I didn’t get many photos today because I needed both hands on the reins and Zelda was pulling hard!

We had a spectacular day to hunt. Although it has been hot here in New England, today the high was in the low 50s and despite the promise of a cloudy day, it was bright and sunny. Zelda was my mount of choice. I’m hoping to hunt Freedom soon but although he feels good most of the time, we still have days when he’s not quite himself.

Heading to the first cast
This hunt starts at the end of an aqueduct.

Zelda was, perhaps, a bit more than herself. It’s funny how a horse who is kick along quiet at home turns into a fire breathing, snorting, piaffing, and bouncing ball of energy when she’s chasing hounds! I gave her a 15 minute warm up to make sure there were no bucks lurking, and she was pretty well behaved. My friend riding behind me did ask at one point whether I was asking her to leap from side to side. I guess it looked like we were dancing. Instead, we were negotiating for control. Zelda was pretty sure that I was doing it WRONG because I did not let her gallop full tilt down the first hill.

Waiting for the hounds
There’s a beautiful pond right at the start

All the horses were a bit jazzed up from the excitement of being out hunting again and the brisk weather. To accommodate a few people who wanted to go a bit more slowly after the first check, I held back and led a second field. It was when we approached the first jump — a nice log that crosses the trail — where the first real tantrum occurred. Zelda locked onto that log like a heat seeking missal and when I told her that she needed to go around it? She had a toddler-worthy meltdown. It’s always good to establish early in the hunt season who is in charge, so I was pleased when she capitulated, and even more pleased that she’s not that hard to sit even when she’s jumping in the air and spinning around. The silver lining of having such an eager horse is that I almost never have to post; she can canter in place with the best of them and that’s so much easier to sit.

I’m glad that Zelda is so enthusiastic about hunting. I will need to remind her at home that she is completely capable of collection and animation. That she does not need to be kicked into a canter and that I can remember clearly that she is not on her forehand when she’s galloping down those trails. I will also remember at the next hunt that I should wear gloves. By Saturday, my hands will just about have recovered!

Hacking home
Since it was the first hunt and neither horses (nor riders) were very fit, we hacked the third piece. My left ankle was very grateful for the break!