This past Saturday our Tennessee Valley Hunt hit another mile stone. I was out hunting. And you know, anytime I go hunting something amazing happens. I’m just that good. [Gretchen’s Note: Yes, I knew that the day was going to be spectacular when I was giving you a bath in the pre-dawn hours before the hunt. You were screeching about the carnivorous water snake that was going to gnaw your feet off. It was the hose, of course, but you would not listen. Yes, Ziggy-Zig, you were magnificent that morning.]
Give me a break; a bath at 4 o’clock in the morning?! The Wench was off her rocker.
I must admit that I didn’t enjoy the extreme early morning timing, but I didn’t whine like Gretchen did about it. The early mornings help our puppies get exposed to the best possible scenting conditions. But still, a handsome dude like me needs SOME beauty sleep to maintain such a striking figure. [Gretchen’s Note: Oh please. A striking figure such as you couldn’t get through the barn doors without a come-along and some grease!]
Please ignore the blabbering Wench. Lord knows I do.
We arrived at the meet to a corn field that I haven’t hunted at before. It was at the base of our Big Valley Fixture (where we saw llamas on an Opening Meet). The corn stand was not as large as the other corn we hunted earlier, but like the other stand it is boarded by Lick Creek. And the creek was really high due to all the rain.
Ryan Johnsey told Gretchen that he wanted us to tag along behind Carrine on the creek bank. Carrine was riding Ryan’s horse (he was on foot), and if the game left the corn and entered the Big Valley country then he wanted Carrine to bring him his horse. If that happened then the creek bank would still be covered by me. Other Whipper-Ins galloped around the far end of the corn to stand guard by the highway and at the other end by the big barn.
Gretchen walked us around the truck to get to the path in between to stands of corn to start following Carrine when BAM! The world just dropped three feet! We were walking along the farm road in some tall Johnson grass when the Idiot Aboard ME walked us right into a drain culvert! The grass was just as high down in the culvert as it was on the road shoulder, so there was no warning the ground dropped. I was so embarrassed. The Idiot should have known it was there! All I can say is thank goodness I didn’t fall down, but I do wish that she had managed to fall off. That would have served her right. [Gretchen’s Note: I praised you and bragged on you the whole morning for keeping your feet and your cool. You handled it great. Now shut up and finish that extra Oat Berry Muffin with peppermint sprinkles I brought, you ungrateful pony.]
With Carrine, we patrolled the creek bank. Carrine made the blurping noise to try to turn any game away from the steep creek bank. Gretchen just squeaked the saddle. It was very annoying.
The hounds hit soon after going into the corn, and they were off! We could tell they were circling in the corn right in front of us. We were going back and forth, watching for game and trying to make the little noises to keep it in the corn. But the mowed path we were on was overgrown on each side and winding, so we missed the fox crossing. The fox went to ground right on the creek bank, and the pack wasn’t far behind.
Ryan came crashing out of the corn right after the pack took off down the path, following the creek bank. The fox was flushed out of his cubby hole and ran off down the creek, and then crossed into the corn again. Ryan was blowing and whooping and hollering as he ran with them. That dude has some lungs on him! Last thing Ryan said was for Gretchen and I stay on the creek bank while Carrine went with him around the corner towards the farm road.
I was rocking that creek bank by myself. I cantered off when we could hear the pack change direction, and I stood still when I needed to. I was pointing into the corn so when a few puppies came out they knew to go back into the corn and not look along the creek. When Gretchen would stop me I would automatically turn towards the corn, even when she forgot (which she forgot that a lot).
Then the pitch of the pack changed, and I could hear Ryan blow Gone to Ground. I told Gretchen we needed to go to Ryan to enjoy the hound music, but the Wench wouldn’t listen. She didn’t hear the horn blowing and wouldn’t leave the creek. Poor Ryan had to call the Idiot to get her to leave the creek to go to him at the earth. Scheesh. I apologized to Ryan for her stupidityness. [Gretchen’s Note: “Stupidityness” is not a word, Smarty Pants.]
We arrived at the earth to see the hounds marking the ground. They sounded awesome! Ryan decided that it was a good hunt and to call it a day. A puppy named Ruby was on her first hunt out, and she wouldn’t leave the den. There was an old wire fence lying on the ground that Carrine’s horse wouldn’t cross. So I bravely crossed the dangerous wire [Gretchen’s Note: Dangerous? It was 1 inch off the ground, Don Quixote.] and pushed through all the thick brush [Gretchen’s Note: You ducked under one branch that hardly qualified as dense brush.] to get to the hole. The Highly Annoying Wench Who Shall Be IGNORED gently flicked her whip at the pup to get her head up. Ryan had already left, walking the pack back while blowing for the puppy. I told Ruby that she was doing an awesome job at the earth, but now her job was to follow her huntsman or risk being left all alone!
I am such a great Staff Horse!
Gretchen put my halter on when we got to the hound trailer so she could help load up hounds. We were missing 1.5 couple. Ryan sent all the other Whipper-Ins to skirt the corn again to find them, but then one of the Whips called him to tell that she had just seen a coyote race from the corn towards the big barn! The missing hounds were not accounted for, so it was unknown if they were on the coyote or not.
Ryan looked at Gretchen and asked if I was still tacked up. Oh, wow! I was going to be a HUNTSMAN’S HORSE again! He hopped on me and galloped off in the direction of the viewed coyote, all the while blowing his horn. I got to show him that I could move so much faster than when the Wench With The Ever Expanding Backside rides me. [Gretchen’s Note: I wouldn’t talk about expanding butts, if I were you. Ryan did jokingly ask me for a leg up to get around your hippo-sized hindquarters! ]
We galloped off, leaving the Wench by herself at the trailers, and found the hounds quickly. The other Whipper-Ins had joined Ryan, and I led the remaining hounds and staff back to the trailers. The only thing missing was that Ryan needed to be in scarlet! I was so happy. I finally had a rider to match my importance. [Gretchen’s Note: Yes, my dearest Ziggy-Poo. You are so important that when Ryan dismounted he almost fell to his knees because he had no idea that the ground would be that close to his feet. And when Ryan saw that I had photographic evidence of this ride he asked what Tennessee Valley’s policy was on blackmail, since he wanted to pay whatever was needed to delete the photos! Very important indeed.] What bald-faced lies.
But what a great morning. It’s gonna be an awesome season!
Ziggy Pelham, Tennessee Valley Hunt’s Official Huntsman’s Horse!