Joint Hunt with Tanheath 11/6

Yesterday we had a joint meet with Tanheath in Pomfret, Connecticut. It was a beautiful day and it seems a shame to miss out on any opportunity to explore some new territory. It was only 24 degrees when we left the barn but had warmed up to a whopping 27 during the hour and 20 minute drive.

As we drove up to the parking area we were already excited about the ride to come — the countryside was lovely. Very reminiscent of England with its open fields and greenery.

The hunt started with their Blessing of the Hounds. With the hounds and staff silhouetted in the morning sun and the light mist that rose of the fields it was a special moment where we gave thanks to the hounds, our horses and the fox.

We rode off through some exquisite fields peppered with inviting looking natural fences. Sadly, the fields were still very wet from the freak snow storm last week, so we were only able to jump two of them. I must come back and ride here again!

We didn’t get to see much of the hounds on the hunt — they disappeared soon into the hunt; I’m not sure what scent they were following, but only a few of the hounds stuck with us. I know from friends who’ve hunted with Tanheath before that this is a great pack and we were just unlucky that that we missed out on their music.

We did have some nice canters and enjoyed the new views and vistas. For Freedom the most exciting part of the hunt was the llama. We were cantering up a dirt road and there was a fenced in field on our right that held two llamas and a goat. Right when we got next to them, the white llama moved! That caused a huge spook to the left (he didn’t know they were alive until the moved) that torqued my knee something terrible and left Freedom snorting in disbelief.

All in all, it was a very pleasant ride. We met some nice people, enjoyed the territory and even basked in the sun (it was 62 degrees when we got back to the trailers). It was also a pleasure to get the chance to ride with Ginny — usually we see her only from a distance.

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Hunt Report: Red Rail, October 8th

First cast from Red Rail Farm
The hunt started from this beautiful field where we all got to watch the hounds work.

Saturday, October 8th we hunted from Red Rail Farm. It was a really beautiful day — up in the mid-70s and sunny — and we had a nice large turn out. The hunt started from one of the most beautiful fields around offering a fabulous view of the hounds as they started to work.

We then moved off into the woods. Although the hounds started off well, they were diverted off the drag by some live scent — most likely deer — and while we could hear them give tongue off in the distance, they were not on the drag. That left the field waiting for staff and the hounds off the side of the trail, hoping not to disturb a nest of ground bees (one of my biggest fears when hunting on warm fall days).

After nearly 10 minutes we moved on but at a controlled pace and continued on until the first check.

First check

Our first check was at a glade in the woods. It’s a very pleasant place to pause as it was a little cooler out of the sun and gave the horses and hounds the chance to catch their breath.

The second cast went very well. The hounds were back on track and we had a good gallop through the woods.

We finished the hunt with an adrenalin charged gallop up the final hill. Freedom must have had some flashbacks to his racing days but we managed not to pass anyone.

Thanks to Noel Estes, who led the jumping field, Debbe Kelley who lead the hilltoppers, and Dennis Kelley who led the third field.

Jenn Fuller adds, “Anything that happened before or during the hunt was likely eclipsed by the LOBSTAH FEST! Thank you to our generous hosts of this annual tradition — Kim Johnson, Pam and Buzz Hawes, Cathy Shortsleeve, and Stephanie Juriansz. It goes above and beyond and sets the bar for the other teas so high, I’m not sure how the rest of us can hope to compete.

But, before the LOBSTAH FEST, there was, of course, a hunt. It was a beautiful day, a bit brisk at the start, but it warmed quickly. It may not have been our most spectacular hunt, hound-wise, but we are dealing with animals who sometimes have a mind of their own and might not do exactly what we hoped they would. In the end, though, we had all but one hound, Ms. Diva, who decided she’d like to get a history lesson at Walden Pond. It pays to know people if you’re the Huntsman, though, and we retrieved her from the pokey free of charge. :-)”

Results from the Hound Show!

The New England Hunts 81st Annual Foxhound Show was held on June 13, 2010, and was hosted by the Myopia Hunt Club in Hamilton, MA. We are very proud of our hounds who received the recognition they deserve.
  • Championship – Best American Dog or Bitch
    ONBH Dandy – Shown by Sue Corey Trophy – Millwood Hunt Challenge Bowl – donated by Mr. & Mrs. Raymond Gordon
  • Championship – Best Couple in Show
    ONBH Charger & Concord – Shown by Samantha Sullivan
  • JR. Showmanship
    1st place Jr. Showmanship 12 – 17 yrs. Richie Riley – ONBH Cloudy
    1st place Jr. Showmanship 11 and under – Cassie Riley – ONBH Dandy
    Also competed Nicole Rassulo & Julip, Britni Crotty & Charger, and Laura Santel & Dandy
  • Retired Foxhound Class:
    1st Place – Dennis Kelley – ONBH Abby Trophy
    4th Place – Lisa Murphy – ONBH Darby

Special thanks to our Masters Hum and Mim Neville, Staff Susan Bater, and Rhonda Watts-Hettinger, members and friends for all their help and support.
The weather was cooperative with just an occasional light drizzle at times. We all enjoyed a great day and we are already looking forward to next year.
Ginny Zukatynski, Huntsman

Is your horse ready to hunt?

FoxhuntingIs my horse ready/suitable for hunting? I get asked this question frequently by my friends who would like to try hunting but are still nervous about the whole hunting environment. Galloping horses, hounds, varied terrain and jumping all combine to make even accomplished equestrians somewhat apprehensive.

The truth is, you won’t know until you try it. And even then, you really don’t know if you have a hunt horse until you’ve been out a few times and your horse starts to figure out what hunting entails. When I first got Freedom I had serious doubts that he would make it as a fox hunter. After all, this was a horse that had a serious meltdown if asked to go behind another horse at any gait other than a walk. However, he has figured it out and is turning into a very nice horse to hunt. He’s sure footed, brave, comfortable and even has brakes.

In training Freedom for the hunt field, I’ve come up with a list of questions you should ask yourself to see if you and your horse are ready to try hunting.

  • Does your horse tolerate dogs? Kicking a hound is probably the absolute worst sin a horse can commit in the hunt field. If your horse is the type to go after a dog if it runs up from behind, passes very close or springs out of the woods, you have some work to do.
  • Will your horse go anywhere in the field? A good hunt horse should be well mannered whether he is in the front of the field, the middle, or the end, first flight or hilltoppers. When you are in the field it is very bad manners to pass the horse in front of you so make sure you can stay in line and keep your distance. There may also be times when you have to leave the field or wait while staff horses canter by.
  • Will your horse kick out if crowded? Hunting can be a bit chaotic. Often the field needs to stop quickly, occasionally a rider might have a refusal at a fence, or someone might ride up close. If your horse misbehaves in a crowd this might not be the right job for him.
  • Do you have brakes? Hunting is full of excitement and galloping. But it’s also chock full of stops. It’s important that you can stop your horse quickly and without having your arms pulled out of your sockets.
  • Can you control your horse in an open field? Even the best behaved horse can get caught up in the moment when galloping across an open field with other horses. Practice this in a more controlled setting before trying it at a hunt.
  • Is your horse sure-footed? Hunt territories are generally a mix of terrain. Your horse should be able to handle rocks, roots, mud and hills as well as those lovely open fields. A well balanced horse that is in self-carriage is ideal. You don’t want to be holding your horse together the whole time you’re hunting and horses that are heavy on the forehand can end up with some heart wrenching trips.
  • Will your horse go through water? Sometimes you have some fairly deep river crossings. There’s nothing worse than being on a horse that doesn’t like to get his feet wet.
  • Is your horse fit? Foxhunters keep up a good pace and while there are “checks” where you can rest, you need a horse that can keep up with the crowd and not get winded or tired. A tired horse will have more difficulty handling the terrain.
  • Will your horse stand quietly in a group of horses? One of the most challenging aspects of hunting is that after galloping off you often need to stop and stand quietly while you wait for the hounds. At times you’ll also need to move off the trail so staff can go by.
  • Will your horse stand to be mounted? There are times when you will need to mount in the field. If you can’t mount from the ground make sure your horse will stand quietly near a rock or fence so you can get back on!

Does this seem like a long list? Maybe, but if you have these essentials in place, hunting will be a pleasure. If you can’t answer yes to all these questions stay tuned for some training tips that will get those skills in place.