Fox Hunting

And we wonder why more people don’t do this…

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We were in Arkansas for the Misty River closing meet, and it was dark, and cold, and rainy, and storming. This was our first “away” hunt, and it was looking iffy whether we’d be going out or not. After pulling through the gates and showing our health papers to the poor drenched soul checking riders in, we pulled ahead to search for solid enough ground to park when the skies released a smattering of hail followed by an enormous crack of lightning. I warily eyed the blackened sky, wondering if we might be in for a tornado. The guys checked the radar and were confident we’d have a break between two lines of storms just long enough to hunt and “Tally-Ho Down”. Sure enough, the rain eased up to a heavy drizzle as we saddled up our ponies and not long after mounting up into the saddle the rain stopped and the hunt began.

My shivering Shaggy boy was wanting his winter coat as we stood around waiting to ride out, but he warmed up quickly after we took off. Riding in the mountains is always a treat for me. The scenery is divine and the terrain is a fun change of pace. Another big change were the coops. They were a bit more upright and taller than the majority of ours, but up to and over the first coop Shaggy and I had not a single problem. The second required an even bigger effort and we got over it nicely. So, you’d think every one after would be no problem for me. Well, sadly, that was not the case. Sadder still, my “boo-boo” caused my dear fella to get a boo-boo of his own. At least that’s the only explanation I can come up with. On the approach to this coop, I suddenly thought “Oh crap!” as I looked down at it, and Shaggy put on the brakes. Onlookers say I even slowed him down as we came up to it. The second try was an exact replay, with the exception he picked his front feet up to try to crawl over it. I immediately turned him away from it, and ended up going through the gate with second flight, then hurrying ahead, galloping up a big big BIG hill, before realizing that yet AGAIN I had lost the hunt! So, back to second flight I went until I was later able to rejoin first flight.

The moment after I left the one group to join the other, hounds must have taken off, and everyone took off to keep up. I sent Shaggy into a hard gallop up Up UP another steep hill, passing one rider after another after another after another. By the time we got to the top my steed had caught me back up to my Cloudline buddies at the front of the field. We slowed to a walk and I got the first feeling that something was a bit off. Jeff couldn’t spot any lameness, though, and I thought maybe I was paranoid. We picked up a trot and he felt fine, so we continued on. Another big run up a big hill and The Shagadellic Beast powered up it like a monster. At the top of this hill we had a long check. Flasks were passed around, jokes were shared, pictures taken and tales told. After a long time of merry-making we headed out again to hunt our way home, and then I knew. Shaggy was dead lame. We hobbled back home, and by the time we made it to the trailer he wasn’t putting any weight on his left foreleg at all, and he had a huge swollen knot on his knee. My friends helped me get him fixed up with some wraps and bute, and he was looking and feeling much better the next day.

Despite the mishaps (we had also had a blow out on the trailer, a wreckless driver nearly caused us to wreck into him,  and some of our friends had a horse get loose at a rest area, and another friend had a lip to match Shaggy’s knee from getting slapped by a branch when scrambling up out of the river), it was a pleasant excursion for all, and though I think we are all just glad to have made it home in one piece, I think it’s safe to say we all look forward to the next bit of adventure, whenever and wherever it may be. Amazingly, Jeff was one without casualty. He’s usually the one with all the misadventures – falling off on his head, busting his kneecap wide open on trees, etc ad nauseum – and now, after TWO SEASONS of hunting we’re told it’s bad luck to have your coat cleaned! Well, he happened to be borrowing a coat for this hunt that hadn’t been to the cleaners in two years. Mine hadn’t been to the cleaners in a few weeks, so what’s up with that? Oh well, I guess you can’t win ’em all. I know one thing for sure, though… my dry cleaning bill is about to decrease considerably!!

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