Saturday, November 22, 2014

Misty River Hounds - Opening Hunt

A week after I did my first foxhunt with Harvard Hounds it was time for opening hunt at Misty River Hounds, the hunt that my barn is very involved with.  We had a much larger group attending and my mom and brother decided to tag along and ride the tallyho wagon so that they could watch.

Hunt Master Dina on Moses with the hounds

After my intense experience at Harvard, I decided to ride third field at Misty River.  If Harvard was supposed to be "tame" then what did Misty River have in store?  Jabbar was wound up again, but a little stronger bit, a straighter saddle, and several more stirrup cups helped things a lot.

Unfortunately, the hounds pretty quickly took off across the river onto some land we weren't allowed on, so much of the hunt was spent looking for the hounds.  That didn't keep anyone from having a a good time though!

In third field we did a lot of hilltopping, chatting, and trotting.  It probably would have been a much better first hunt experience, but after a taste of the thrill at Harvard, I could see myself wanting to step it up to second field at Misty River.  After the hunt there was a catered meal with a live band and a silent auction where I won myself a yellow vest!

Deer Creek Farm representing at Misty River Hounds
All in all, it was another awesome hunt with this boy that I got to share with my mom and brother.  I was so excited to have them along.  They were troopers on a very cold morning and a very long day.  I think we're all hooked, though.  Tallyho!

Thursday, November 20, 2014


When I bought Jabbar, I knew that he was going to be very green in the arena.  His previous owner didn't take lessons or do shows - he was a foxhunter.  I've done my share of lessons, I've done some shows, and I've done plenty of trail rides, but I've never foxhunted.  Most of the adult riders at my barn participate with the barn owner Diane and her assistant trainer Sally being very involved with Misty River Hounds, one of the local hunts.  So I had plenty of opportunity to get involved if I wanted to, I just wasn't sure I wanted to.

It always sounded a little intimidating, barreling across pastures on a horse following a pack of hounds while they chase a scent.  You never know what's around the next turn and you jump coops and logs rather than navigate around them, all at a rather quick pace.  Control freaks like me prefer going in circles in the arena over a course of jumps working on form and precision, not galloping across the countryside.  But since Jabbar was a very experienced foxhunter - he was a whip horse, meaning he was even more experienced than your average - I decided to give it a shot for him.

Harvard Hounds is another local hunt that our barn is friendly with, so when a small group elected to go to their opening hunt at the end of October, I decided it would be a good place to start.  Sally assured me that this hunt was pretty slow paced so it would be a good opportunity to get my feet wet without overwhelming me.  I was game.  When we showed up and began to tack the horses, the atmosphere was amazing.  We were at a pretty homestead with a misty fog, and they even had someone playing bagpipes.  The hounds were baying and as we mounted up, a priest came out to do a blessing.  Someone handed me a cup of port wine and called it a stirrup cup.  Thank you, may I have another?

Jabbar came alive.  He couldn't stand still and I had to circle him over and over.  Typically in fox hunting, there are several "fields" or groups of riders.  First field is the fastest paced with lots of galloping and jumping.  Second field doesn't jump but does gallop.  And if there's a third field, it's mostly walking and trotting.  This hunt was small enough that there was only a first and second field.  When first field took off, I had to remind Jabbar that while he was experienced, I was totally not.  We hung back in second field.

The hounds caught scent immediately, and there went our idea of a low key hunt.  We tore up and down hills, we cantered through open fields, and we even hopped over a few logs.  Jabbar was in a really soft snaffle bit so I had a lot of trouble holding him back.  And my saddle slipped about halfway through, so I spent the entire second half of the hunt trying to straighten it out.  Thank goodness for my flask - it really eased my nerves.

I was lucky enough to have a great friend Kerstin going along with me. She's hunted a few times so she could help me understand what was going on.  A big part of the hunt is watching the hounds work  a scent and we got a firsthand view of that.  Honestly, the whole process was the most terrifying and exhilarating thing I've ever done.  Jabbar loved it and I vowed to get a little stronger bit before the next time.  But the scenery was amazing, the horses was beautiful, the hounds were impressive, and I survived.  What an experience!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

More fun with Jabbar

Not long after Jabbar was officially ours, John Patrick and Nini ventured up to the Hill to meet him.  First we brought him up to the barn for some grooming.

Then I put him through his paces (aka wore him out).

After that, I let John Patrick get on him for a little ride around the arena.

After that it was time to take Jabbar up to the barn for a hose down because it was HOT - remember heat?  And he got to meet Nini face to face.  Welcome to the family, Jabbar boy!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Lucky Seventeen

What a challenging year to be a Hog fan.  We started with a close then not so close game in Auburn and then a few solid victories over non-SEC schools.  Riley got to witness her first full Razorback game!

Then we headed to the Big D for the resurrection of one of my favorite Razorback traditions - the Southwest Classic.  What's not to love about a game in Cowboys Stadium complete with a Cowboyrita or three?

Riley also got to meet Jerry Jones - way cool.

(PICS TO COME...As soon as Mom texts them to me.)

But a little piece of me died during that overtime loss, and losing to Alabama 14-13 the next game did nothing to help my spirits.  With two close games against ranked opponents we went into the Georgia game with optimism.

Turns out Georgia is much better than we are, and I spent a whole quarter and half time looking for a changing table in War Memorial.  Not cool.  We won homecoming and marched into Starkville to play #1 Mississippi State with a 16 game SEC losing streak and a chip on our shoulder.  But yet again things didn't go our way and we lost by a touchdown.  After a week off, my least favorite team in all of sports - that's right, more than the Philadelphia Eagles - Lousiana State University came to Fayetteville.  We're in the middle of a cold snap and kickoff was 7PM, so it took some real troopers to attend this game.  Fortunately, I know a few.

A crowd of over 70,000 people stayed until 10:30PM in 30 degree weather to see our Arkansas Razorbacks beat #17 LSU to snap a 17 game SEC losing streak by a score of 17-0.  The team charged across the field as time ran out to seize the Golden Boot trophy and the crowd stormed the field to celebrate.

If I had to wait 17 SEC games to see the Hogs win, I am extremely happy that it happened in Fayetteville against a ranked LSU - couldn't be sweeter.  Here's hoping we win out and head back to and Eddie Money concert...I mean the Liberty Bowl!  Go Hogs!