Maybe one day I’ll look back on this and laugh…but as of right now, I can count on one hand the number of two-hour-plus rides I’ve done in my life. Twenty minutes in I was convinced my ankles were going to just snap off from the strain.
But first things first. 5:30 a.m.–I wake up, hating my life. Then I remember I’ve been lent a horse to go hunting. I still hate my life because I am not yet caffienated, but I realize that this is a completely irrational thing to feel. It’s a hunting day!
|Misty morning in Potomac Hunt country.|
Still not entirely a functional human being (mornings are not my best time), I make it to the barn at 6:30 to prepare Seven Up for hunting.
|When I see amazing views like this practically in my backyard I can hardly believe I am so lucky.|
Of course he is gray.
And of course he has rolled since I bathed and Show Sheened the living bejeezus out of him the day before.
So I start scrubbing, and after about one and a half-ish baths, he looks presentable. I hope. His owner informs me that I’ll be hunting him in a three-in-one bit, which I’ve never even seen before, let alone heard of. Oh yeah–and double reins. Good thing I had some practice with those in a lesson on a different horse last week (because I don’t like riding that horse in a gag all the time when he doesn’t need it all the time)…but I was very fumbly and unsure of my reins in that lesson, so I wasn’t planning on actually hunting in double reins for quite some time…
|A little blurry, but you cans see the main bit is a sort of loose-ring curb,
and then there is the option to use leverage when needed.
No time like the present, I guess. Especially when, for some reason, I find myself the very last person to mount up and I’m scrambling with my host to the pre-meet roundup (not sure if there is a name for it, but when the masters give announcements). I fumble a bit figuring out which is the curb rein and which is the snaffle, but then it clicks. I get it, and my hands suddenly remember the feeling of riding with draw reins (inadvisably, before I got a better trainer) as a kid.
Good timing, because we start trotting off past Seven’s field, and past the neighbor’s horses who are all worked up and galloping around their pasture. The hunt horses don’t deem their antics worthy of any interest, which gives me time to figure out how to use the snaffle without engaging the curb. Success!
We draw first close to the farm–no luck. Then we enter the woods–and it’s a pell-mell race to–what, I don’t know, since I don’t even hear the hounds with all my adrenaline. I’m just focused on keeping a distance between me and the next horse, and not getting impaled by any branches.
We come to a stop, then draw again in a corn field. I’m really regretting my fashion choice of a knit sweater over a polo shirt, since my sleeve is all soggy from washing Seven this morning, and after the run the rest of me feels like I’m wearing a wet dog. But there’s no crying in foxhunting–the hounds find again, and we’re running down a mowed lane through the cornfield. So exciting! I love how, when galloping, it feels so fast, and also like you have all the time in the world to perch up there and adjust your seat, your reins, to feel the breeze…and we keep going…and going…and going…my ankles start to over-flex as my legs tire…and I’m starting to wonder if I should duck out and head back after this run…and we keep going…until finally we stop.
Seven couldn’t care less about the gallop. He’s got plenty left in him, so I decide to tough it out…which is good, because the remaining TWO HOURS is mostly walking and a little trotting. I honestly can’t recall most of the details after that since I was mostly wondering if my hyperflexed ankles would just snap off, and I was preoccupied with not letting Seven jig too much. Except the FOOD after! Oh the food! So much cake! And I love the option to start drinking at 11am (because it is just 100% ridiculous) but I always find myself guzzling water or juice at these things–too thirsty for alcohol! The host had a really cool dining room with exposed wood beams:
Phew. Through it all, I felt so alive I felt like I was going to die. But at least, I would have died happy.