Here there be dragons...

"I'm telling you stories. Trust me." - Winterson

Heigh ho, the dairy-o, a hunting we will go!

Cross-posting from GRS blog because it amused me enough to share here too :)

So GRS ventured into a new world today - that of fox hunting. To put this in perspective, I have been exactly twice before*, and my students have never been. We're pretty sure Bella knows the game, but all the other horses were on their first time out as well...

*Sidenote - previous adventures: first in Southern Pines and then in Hamilton <-- if you're reading those, the SP one is educational, the Hamilton one way more fun - and there's a follow up to the Hamilton one from my friend Chris

So how did today's adventure come to be?

Well Adriana has been inviting me to come hunting for quite some time and somehow it never happened. But I wanted Jack to try hunting and didn't particularly want to hunt him myself, so she who often takes greenbeans out, volunteered. Sweet. So she agrees to take on the big 5yo with a sense of humour and is good to go. But almost as soon as agreeing to ride him, mentions "you should bring kids with you."

Which I of course promptly turned down as a Very. Bad. Idea. And then I thought about it, and about how much I would've *loved* to have gone when I was still young enough to bounce well. And I realized that I do have several students who are more than ready to give it a try. So why not? Well trailering works in two or four; I was taking two horses, so that left space for two more. Ran through the mental list of riders I felt were ready who would suit the horses I had left. And considered how very far both Paula and Hailey have come with their riding this summer. And figured their horses have a reasonably suitable temperament. Sooooo they got invited. Why not >;-P

So step one -- load and get to the meet. Shouldn't be an issue, except at the last second I decided I'd really rather take Athena than Lissy... hmmmmm

But she loaded like the civilized goddess she is we were off well on time and got there fairly early. Met a few people and caught up with A. Unloaded the two who aren't happy on the trailer and tacked them up. Then the other two (yeah for having trained Sienna to tie to the trailer - makes life so much easier!) and we were good to go. Made some new friends while waiting for the start and we were off.

We stuck to the back of the hunt with our excessive collection of greenbeans. Jack started out alert but not overly concerned -- didn't even really react to the hounds! Si was great to start - mostly hanging out grazing. Bella and Athena were less relaxed about the whole idea, mostly spinning slowly in circles. hahaha

And then the games began. Si didn't really understand the whole "hold your place in line" concept at the beginning. Fair enough - coming from the track she expects to be told to get as close to the front as possible. It took Paula most of the ride to convince her that she really was supposed to go the exact same speed as everybody else :) Strangest. Race. Ever. She bounced around a little and ran into Athena a couple times but by the end she had it figured out! At one point her proximity to Athena saved Paula as there was an abrupt group halt at just the point P had ducked to dodge a branch. Those laws of physics kicked in as Si realized she should halt and Paula couldn't see what was about to happen... She bounced off Athena and ended up back on Si who was clearly giving her the "Really?!?!" look >;-P

The jumping part though - every fence flawlessly (if, occasionally a little higher than *technically* necessary). Even the in and out :) Superstars!

Hailey, being the smartest one of the group, was on the *smallest* horse - enabling her to dodge far more branches than the rest of us :) She bravely tackled every jump she found and was grinning the whole way around. And Bella was clearly all for this game. XC AND friends without ANY dressage?!?!?! What could be better? The only thing she didn't care for was the holds. Standing waiting for no apparent reason when she *could* be running and jumping just seemed a fairly strange and pointless idea to her.

I, being less intelligent, traded my little 15hh quiet school pony for my 16.2hh horse who only sometimes has breaks and has a wickedly long stride. hmmmmm. Interesting decision. Right up there with randomly deciding to run 15k. Sheesh. But I have to say -- I was at least able to keep her in line! However, being a mare compromise was necessary. I could pick the speed - she would pick the gait. There was no walking. The entire ride. We did, however, have the most lovely passage for any time that didn't involve cantering or jumping. O.M.G. I suspect I will have a *very* tired horse tomorrow. But fun. So much fun. And now I know what she can do >;-P She also led Jack over one of the off-to-the-side fences he wasn't entirely sure about. I didn't see it, but apparently Jack felt the need to clear it by an extra couple feet, successfully introducing his rider to the branches well above them AND convincing her that I'm insane for doubting his ul jumping potential all at the same time. Made both of us grin though, so that counts for a lot :)

Overall an amazing day! All the greenbeans behaved themselves. Horses stayed between the riders and the ground. The members of the Wellington/Waterloo Hunt were incredibly welcoming and friendly. We even got a photo or two :) And the fox? Well she rode behind us for the first half hour or so before turning off to set a path for us. hahaha a dragged scent, that is, so no harm was caused in the makings of today's entertainment. And did I mention my horse apparently knows how to passage? >;-P The relaxation portion of things may need some work - but now we have a goal :) And unrealistic goals generally lead to entertaining blog posts, so stay tuned!

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