So…total fail on blogging after every hunt. I’m going to cut myself a little slack though, because at points this fall I was working two jobs and studying for my Series 7 broker exam…so riding in my free time took precedence over writing in my free time.
Now I have used up all six caps I purchased in addition to five or so free cubbing days, and I am most likely done hunting for the season unless I get special permission to ride as a guest. (A possibility, but not guaranteed.) Last January I would have been absolutely thrilled at the prospect of hunting once, twice, or MAYBE three times in 2014, so I am really pleased with how the year turned out.
I learned many new and important things. For example: safe galloping position, the beginnings of an auto jumping release, and the fact that tying a stock is actually not that difficult. Other, less conventional lessons learned: the necessity of making sure your girth is REALLY tight before moving off, mounting an ADD horse from the ground (learned that one in tandem with the girth thing), and how to WALK through ditches as opposed to leaping through them (OK, I only succeed about 50% of the time on that one).
|Proof that foxhunting=sunshine and rainbows|
Now that it is cold and I’m focusing more on lessons in the arena, I have also learned that foxhunting is TERRIBLE for your overall riding! I find myself leaning forward and tightening my hips, resulting in lots of unintentionally fast trips around the arena on horses who think I am telling them to run like Smarty Jones. Oh, and did I mention my neuroses about riding unfamiliar horses, my fear of being run away with, or my “first-jump-phobia” which has led to countless refusals, runouts, and bunny jumps? Good thing I am working with a saintly and tough instructor who will help me channel my inner Lillie Keenan.
|Opening Hunt: Possibly the worst jumping I have ever seen myself do (Photo: Robert Keller)|
In addition to hunting adventures, 2014 was extra special because my fiance caught the riding bug. Over the summer he took weekly lessons and got really good at walking, posting the trot, steering, and even went on a few walking trail rides, but once he was starting to canter he had a bunch of work things that made it hard to schedule regular lessons. Now I think we are back on track and we just had our first group lesson together. I love seeing how happy he is in his lessons, though it’s slightly infuriating how naturally riding comes to him! I think part of it, though, is that unlike when I was learning to ride, I now know what kind of instructor to send him to so he will learn correctly the first time around, and not let bad habits become ingrained (like me!).
2015 promises to be another fun year with riding. Since I’ve found it is totally doable to hunt without your own horse, I am saving up to join the hunt as a full member. I’m also planning on joining my local Horsemasters chapter (Pony Club for adults). I never got to do Pony Club as a kid, and as I’ve alluded, there are many strange gaps in my riding education that I would like to fill in. (For example, I have no fear jumping a coop out hunting yet I have only the faintest idea of how to get a horse to come round on the bit.) I have also resolved (officially!) to volunteer more, and I’ve already made concrete plans to do so.
Hooray for another year of riding…may this one bring bigger jumps, longer gallops, and fewer concussions than the last!