Unsung Heroes of the Foxhunting World

Autumn AugustWith the official start of mounted hound exercise well underway, opening cubbing seems to be just around the corner, which also means the start of school is too. It’s such a flurry of excitement and dread, I can hardly stand it. My summer has been one happy mixture of work, hound walking, and riding, only to be brought to a screeching halt by piles of books, mountains of notes, and never ending lectures on the fascinating properties of hydrogen. However, until August 18, I am free to continue immersing myself in all things kennel/hound related (when I’m not at work, of course).

Hound Feet and Rain Boots

Autumn July photo1I wake up and look at my alarm clock-4:41 am.

I’m getting up in four minutes. I’m going to the kennels today! Ahhh I’m so excited! Stop. Four minutes. Sleep a little bit. Ok. I wonder where we’ll go for hound walking today? I wonder if Tarnish will still be coupled to Greatness? No, stop thinking, I have to go back to bed. Ok. I’m going back to sleep. For real this time. Reeeelax. Stop thinking.

The alarm clock clicks and plays a few seconds of a song before I spring out of bed to switch it off. Time to go!

I throw on a pair of jeans and a t-shirt, wash my face, grab my old baseball hat, and make sure Arden is up and moving. Arden, my friend from school and a fellow equestrian, has always been interested in my fox hunting adventures, so I invited her to spend a day at the kennels with me. Once we’ve rolled out of bed and are ready for the day, we quietly sneak downstairs, grab a few granola bars for breakfast, slip on our rain boots and hit the road at 5:10 am.  It’s 5:45 am and we’re cruising down the highway, rocking out to obnoxiously upbeat music, eating our granola bars (the new breakfast of champions!), and if it weren’t for the dim hints of a sunrise trying to break the darkness, you would think it were midday.

The Hound Days of Summer

Autumn June 1The moment I finished my last exam, I had one thing on my mind; the kennels. There were three new hounds Shakerag had recently drafted, and I HAD to go meet them! Plus Shakerag’s Leapfrog had recently won third place at the Southern Hound Show in the Single Entered Dog class, two puppies, Tarnish and Taboo, had returned to the kennels after completing their time on puppy walk, and Shakerag’s annual summer fundraiser, the Poker Ride, was coming up soon! It really hadn’t been that long since I had last been to the kennels, but there was so much to do, so much to learn, I just NEEDED to get out there as soon as I could!

May 5 was the day of the Poker Ride, a trail ride roughly six miles long, where riders ride at their own pace, draw cards at stops along the way, and each card is recorded on a small piece of paper riders carry with them. At the end of the ride, they turn in their hand, and the top four riders with the best poker hands win prizes of $100, $75, $50, and $25. Prizes are given out and winners of the raffle are called during lunch provided by members. Members of Shakerag and the community are invited to ride, and it has consistently had a good turnout.

You Know You're a Foxhunting Freshman When...

foxhunting freshman1With final exams over, I can officially say I have survived my first year at college! Overall, I didn’t hit too many bumps in the road, but there were several occasions where I was reminded that this crazy thing we all call fox hunting really isn’t a hobby, but an all-consuming lifestyle. Maybe you don’t have to be a freshman in college for parts of this list to apply to you, but you could say this list is a summary of my year. It seemed no matter where I turned, there was something reminding me that even though I lived two hours farther from Shakerag Hounds than normal, you can take a girl away from the fox hunt, but you can’t take the fox hunt out of a girl.

You Know You’re a Fox Hunting Freshman When…

Lá Fhéile Pádraig Shona!

Closing Hunt3 2012Shakerag Hounds’ Closing Meet fell on St. Patrick’s Day this year, and the masters sent out an mail the night before saying that in spirit of the holiday, anything that is normally white could be green for the day. I started to get creative with my ideas, but by the time I drove home from school, got horses and the trailer ready, I was frankly too exhausted to make a night-time run out to Party City. Thankfully there are a lot of creative members at Shakerag, and we saw everything from shamrocks painted on horses and giant green bow-ties attached to breast plates to vibrant green and shamrock patterned stock ties, and even a horse that had been painted green!

A Horse of a Different Color…or “Model”

In early January, Wayne Thrush, our family friend who takes me hunting, told me that his horse, Bailey, turned up lame, the result of a pulled hip muscle. The prescription: time off, then light work building up to a regular working schedule. I knew it might be a while until we were able to get back out hunting. Of course, road whipping was always an option, but who knew when Mr. Wayne’s schedule would be open? That’s okay…deep breath…I would find a way to survive. I asked Facebook friends for updates on hunts, added a few pictures of hounds to my dorm room wall, kept reviewing my hound list…but one day, I found myself researching hound pedigrees in class. It was like one second I was taking notes on the rhetorical triangle, and the next I was immersed in the MFHA website! I don’t even know how it happened! Something’s got to give soon, I thought. Needless to say, when Mr. Wayne e-mailed me about road whipping at a fixture I’ve never been to, it took me all of three seconds to respond with, “YES!”

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