Thursday, September 20, 2007

Foxhunt Friday: Cubbing from Mount Pleasant

Alas no foxhunting photo, but I had to share the view from the barn. Beautiful, huh? That's Crow tied to his favorite tree taking a nap before his ride. On to hunting. We met yesterday at Mount Pleasant, a farm on one of the roads that runs between 15 and 50 south of Aldie. The farm is across the road from the National Beagle Club's Institute Farm. This area of country is wide-open and picturesque. Several times during the morning's hunting we came out of woods to a sudden sweeping view of grassy valleys below.

About 15 riders made up the field. Thursday was my first time out for the season, so I had planned to hilltop (go with the second "field" or "flight" of riders, which doesn't jump but goes through gates instead), but there are few coops in this part of the territory, and I thought Josh would be up for whatever we came to, so I decided to go first flight. At first. The huntsman drew toward Landfall Farm, and we were all impressed with how closely he held the pack together as we set out (this is this huntsman's first year with our hunt).

We had a check high up on a hill and we watched hounds work through fields and a small pond before hitting the first line. Unfortunately, the check gave me time to contemplate a couple of 10-board coops that we could see at the bottom of the hill. The riders (removable horizontal boards to make the jumps level with the rest of the fence so that livestock can't escape) were up, which meant that we probably wouldn't jump them, but they were enough to scare me back into the second flight. Which was just as well. No one, first flight or second, ended up jumping anything more than some small logs in the woods, but the day was a good one for just getting out there and exposing the horse to some hounds. The weather was beautiful and the air was clear (but for the dust kicked up by hooves), and we had a very enjoyable morning. The one down point was when we ran into a couple of bulldozers in the woods near the Institute-- bulldozers are definitely one way to put hounds off of scent! The development is coming everywhere.

I hope these foxhunting entries won't be too boring to readers who don't ride, but I'm excited to have a record of my hunting days. I tried to find an online dictionary of foxhunting terms to link to explanations of some of the terms here but I couldn't find a good one, so I'll have to keep explaining in parentheses, I guess. Also, we can all hope that maybe soon I'll get better at writing about the action. Have a great weekend.

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