Hounds were moving off at 8, so I woke up at 5, spent 30 minutes fiddling with my stock tie, and arrived at the barn to get my horse ready at 6. Turns out that with a non-gray horse and tack already clean, you need next to no time to get presentable, so I put Blue in a stall and tried to make myself useful (the operating word being "tried").
I picked out stalls (successfully) but in the dark, I spilled about a third of the wheelbarrow's contents off the side of the manure spreader.
Blue pooped in his stall and rolled in it.
The owner of the barn spilled water from the trailer's tank ALL over her breeches.
We nearly took down B's fence trying to get through the gate to park the trailer.
And on top of that, it looked like it might rain.
Needless to say, we were late. Thank God I have one of those easy Real Women Ride hairnets because if I had to figure out hunter hair, we never would have gotten there. (Good thing foxhunters don't care about your hairstyle anyway.)
There were a couple of other stragglers who knew the direction they most likely went, so we hacked on the road and caught up with the group soon enough. We ran this way; we ran that way, then doubled back and did it again. Good thing was the skies were clearing--bad thing was that it was starting to get hot in my layers! Oh well, better to be hot and look proper.
Soon the pace settled down to that stop-and-go that happens when nothing is really going on except some horses walking slower than others and having to trot to catch up, which makes everyone behind them trot to catch up. A breeze started picking up...it really turned out to be the perfect fall day.
Except for the Ditch of Death.
Up to this point, we had crossed a couple streams with no major incident. Blue is really good about being careful where he steps and can actually listen when he's revved up from other horses in front of him. But this ditch was at least a 45 degree grade, about 20 feet down and a larger hill up, and horses were trotting and cantering on the other side. Even though it wasn't my turn to go just yet, I knew Blue was going to catch up whether I was with him or not.
I looked down the ditch. I looked up the ditch. I heard my internal riding instructor yell, "DON'T LOOK DOWN, OR THAT'S WHERE YOU'RE GOING," in my mind. So I looked where I wanted to go--across the ditch--grabbed my "oh s***" strap, and I think I might have closed my eyes.
I'm not exactly sure what happened in between, but I found myself and Blue--still attached!--but stuck in a bramble on the other side. I kicked him on, accidentally cut off the woman hosting our hunt breakfast later--oops--apologized, elated--We made it! Good boy Blue!
Apart from that, the rest is kind of a blur. A couple hounds got stuck in someone's field fenced with hot wire so we had to stop and open the gate. I held the gate-opener's horse for her. Hounds nearly came right up on a fox but didn't get it--that was a lot of noise but not much running. We rode past a scenic outcropping of rocks where I had seen a picture of a fox gone to ground during cubbing. Mostly, Blue treated the whole thing like a bore, napping on the reins at checks and trying to put his head up his pasture-mate's butt when he walked in front of us.
We hunted about two hours total, then headed back to wash horses (love trailers with a water tank!) and load them up to go to I's place.
With every turn in the driveway revealing another amazing part of the property--a pond with a fountain, literal amber waves of grain, an impeccable ring, a BARN WITH CHANDELIERS IN IT--I became more and more convinced that I needed to figure out a plot to get these people to adopt me somehow.
The food (quiches, bacon, sausage, hash browns, etc. prepared by the host's personal chef and housekeeper...oh, what a life!) was simple but it hit the spot. ESPECIALLY the macaroons for dessert. Chatted some, saw photos of one of the Master's steeplechase horses, showed off my engagement shoot pictures on my phone and generally had a great time.
|One of my engagement shoot photos|
Sorry if this post is rambly and has no structure. I just want to get the details down before I forget.
I am SO LUCKY to be able to do this at such little expense!!!