- Beth Barney
Limestone Creek Hunt kicked off the 2016 season with a two-day Learn to Foxhunt Clinic series. The clinic's intent was to offer a supportive place to start for people who want to learn the basics of foxhunting. The clinic series was also promoted as a very good place to introduce horses to the sights, sounds and dynamics of foxhunting. Those who signed up came from all riding backgrounds and disciplines. Several experienced foxhunters attended to polish up their hunting skills, as well.
The only requirement asked of those attending was that the rider, adult or junior, could walk, trot and canter their horse with control.
The Morrisville, NY State College Equine Rehab Center provided an excellent setting for the introductory clinic. Mary Crandall photo.
The first clinic was Saturday, March 26. Fourteen participants arrived at the Morrisville, New York, State College Equine Rehab Center arena with their horses to begin their journey to becoming foxhunters. LCH huntsman, Lori Gronau, took charge of the day’s agenda, presenting an equal mix of mounted work and classroom sessions separated by a lunch break. Mounted work focused on how to work with your horse over, under, through and around obstacles. The group then moved on to learning the organization in the hunt field, how to follow your field master, why keeping up and safe spacing between horses is important and finally, how to perform
basic field maneuvers. Mounted work ended after an introduction to hounds, horn and staff passing the fields.
After lunch, the day continued with a discussion session covering horse tack and bits to consider for foxhunting. The day concluded with a session on cub and formal season clothing, featuring demonstrations on how to tie the stock tie and the “best” way to stuff long hair into a helmet with hairnet! All participants received a folder of printed materials supporting all topics presented during the day and encouragement to work on their mounted homework assignments in preparation for Clinic II, seven weeks later.
Dan Carroll presents shoeing tips for foxhunters. Mary Crandall photo.
Participants from the first clinic reconvened for the Learn to Foxhunt Clinic II on Saturday, June 11, at Hawk Hollow Farm in Erieville, New York, located in the heart of LCH’s hunt territory. Heavy rain added to the challenging agenda focusing on mounted work. After an informative presentation by Blacksmith Dan Carroll on shoeing for foxhunting, the group split into a flat schooling group with huntsman Lori Gronau, while more advanced riders worked with Barb Lindberg, MFH, in a jumping session emphasizing techniques for safely jumping coops and natural obstacles in the hunt field.
Getting ready for a rainy, but educational, ride out. Mary Crandall photo.
The groups later came together again with the huntsman leading a cross-country ride, teaching techniques and demonstrating how to ride up and down hills, trails and fields. The rain made for slick conditions, helping to make participants realize the need to improve their focus and skills for the next challenge of the day. Hounds were released and a mini foxhunt at learning speed, complete with horn, hounds, huntsman and staff passing the fields at speed was engaged.
The soggy day ended with a wrap-up session on hunting etiquette, during which many big, confident smiles were viewed on all who braved the day. A special nod of thanks must go to Mother Nature for helping clinic participants learn to RIDE STRONG no matter the weather.