Miscellaneous Shenanigans, Riding Adventures

The Bane of Manes

So Opening Hunt is next weekend and I am SOOOO EXCITED!

I have lined up a horse to borrow as well as transportation. I’ve ridden this saintly horse several times before, including a lesson where I learned some ways to improve my galloping position, and how to ask for a flying lead change (something I have always wanted to learn but never really needed to considering I never showed much), so I feel confident about using him. I have my melton, canary vest, stock tie, and magical hairnet, so I feel confident about how I’ll look. I also FINALLY resigned myself to the fact that my favorite watch is gone forever, and got a cheapo replacement so I won’t be late like the last two times I’ve hunted (only one of which I wrote about…oops).

The one thing I am NOT so confident about is braiding manes. I’ve watched a lot of videos so I understand the basic idea, but I’ve never actually done it.

I French braid my own hair nearly every day though, and I’ve got a week to practice…so here’s hoping Seven will look like this:

COTH

And not like that one person who shows up at a schooling show feeling really proud for braiding…until the braid ends up sticking up in all directions, falling out, and frizzing up to such a degree it would have been better not to try in the first place.

The day of Opening also marks my fourth year together with Byron and my last anniversary as an unmarried lady. Byron gave me his blessing to go hunting in the morning before we celebrate (not like he had much choice in the matter). Is it wrong that I’m not sure which I am looking forward to more–exploring local wineries in the afternoon, or outriding and outlasting all of the noobs who retire after an hour? Granted, I’ll be on a horse that could hunt in his sleep…but still!

This week I’m also riding (not hunting) a horse a local instructor wants to get back into work and sell. He’s a much different ride than the guest/husband horses I have been riding lately…he’s a chestnut 8 y/o Warmblood cross who is a very forward show hunter type. He’s only around 15hh but there is so much movement in that ground-covering daisy-cutter trot!

It’s funny, but in the ring when they get quick, I get nervous and tense. Yet out in the hunt field when everyone else is doing it,¬† it’s exhilarating. So, provided that he doesn’t do anything too naughty, I think this will be good for my confidence.

Hunt Report, Uncategorized

Conquering the Ditch of Death at B’s

Today I rode L’s horse Blue (more on him at a future date–it’s an amazing story I plan to write and submit around). It was an exciting day for me since it was the first time I got to wear all of my secondhand/homemade informal season finery! I scored a used Grand Prix jacket for $50 (ended up being a total of $80 since I had to have the sleeves lengthened), used Tailored Sportsmans for $30 ($50 with alterations), a used white ratcatcher shirt for $10 and I made my own stock tie (materials: $7). Of course I forgot to ask someone to take a picture of me though.

Hounds were moving off at 8, so I woke up at 5, spent 30 minutes fiddling with my stock tie, and arrived at the barn to get my horse ready at 6. Turns out that with a non-gray horse and tack already clean, you need next to no time to get presentable, so I put Blue in a stall and tried to make myself useful (the operating word being “tried”).

I picked out stalls (successfully) but in the dark, I spilled about a third of the wheelbarrow’s contents off the side of the manure spreader.
Blue pooped in his stall and rolled in it.
The owner of the barn spilled water from the trailer’s tank ALL over her breeches.
We nearly took down B’s fence trying to get through the gate to park the trailer.
And on top of that, it looked like it might rain.

Needless to say, we were late. Thank God I have one of those easy Real Women Ride hairnets because if I had to figure out hunter hair, we never would have gotten there. (Good thing foxhunters don’t care about your hairstyle anyway.)

There were a couple of other stragglers who knew the direction they most likely went, so we hacked on the road and caught up with the group soon enough. We ran this way; we ran that way, then doubled back and did it again. Good thing was the skies were clearing–bad thing was that it was starting to get hot in my layers! Oh well, better to be hot and look proper.

Soon the pace settled down to that stop-and-go that happens when nothing is really going on except some horses walking slower than others and having to trot to catch up, which makes everyone behind them trot to catch up. A breeze started picking up…it really turned out to be the perfect fall day.

Except for the Ditch of Death.

Up to this point, we had crossed a couple streams with no major incident. Blue is really good about being careful where he steps and can actually listen when he’s revved up from other horses in front of him. But this ditch was at least a 45 degree grade, about 20 feet down and a larger hill up, and horses were trotting and cantering on the other side. Even though it wasn’t my turn to go just yet, I knew Blue was going to catch up whether I was with him or not.

I looked down the ditch. I looked up the ditch. I heard my internal riding instructor yell, “DON’T LOOK DOWN, OR THAT’S WHERE YOU’RE GOING,” in my mind. So I looked where I wanted to go–across the ditch–grabbed my “oh s***” strap, and I think I might have closed my eyes.

I’m not exactly sure what happened in between, but I found myself and Blue–still attached!–but stuck in a bramble on the other side. I kicked him on, accidentally cut off the woman hosting our hunt breakfast later–oops–apologized, elated–We made it! Good boy Blue!

Apart from that, the rest is kind of a blur. A couple hounds got stuck in someone’s field fenced with hot wire so we had to stop and open the gate. I held the gate-opener’s horse for her. Hounds nearly came right up on a fox but didn’t get it–that was a lot of noise but not much running. We rode past a scenic outcropping of rocks where I had seen a picture of a fox gone to ground during cubbing. Mostly, Blue treated the whole thing like a bore, napping on the reins at checks and trying to put his head up his pasture-mate’s butt¬† when he walked in front of us.

We hunted about two hours total, then headed back to wash horses (love trailers with a water tank!) and load them up to go to I’s place.

With every turn in the driveway revealing another amazing part of the property–a pond with a fountain, literal amber waves of grain, an impeccable ring, a BARN WITH CHANDELIERS IN IT–I became more and more convinced that I needed to figure out a plot to get these people to adopt me somehow.

The food (quiches, bacon, sausage, hash browns, etc. prepared by the host’s personal chef and housekeeper…oh, what a life!) was simple but it hit the spot. ESPECIALLY the macaroons for dessert. Chatted some, saw photos of one of the Master’s steeplechase horses, showed off my engagement shoot pictures on my phone and generally had a great time.

One of my engagement shoot photos

Sorry if this post is rambly and has no structure. I just want to get the details down before I forget.
I am SO LUCKY to be able to do this at such little expense!!!