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I have to apologize to everyone for missing the December blog.  That Woman, who shall remain nameless, deleted it from my iPad.  She claims I bucked during a hunt at Berry Hill in Greeneville.  As if I would ever do anything like that while leading the Hilltoppers.  I merely put my head down to sniff for fox scent while we were galloping after First Flight in a big pasture.  I swear!  (Gretchen’s Note:  Fess up, poodle butt.   You tried to buck me off at a gallop.  But of course I wasn’t unseated, as your massive lard-filled hindquarters didn’t come but a few inches off the ground. But try it again at another hunt and I’ll leave you and your ego at home!)

Yeah, yeah, yeah.  She can’t leave me at home, as I am the best hunt horse she’s ever been on! She can blabber on for all I care.

We had a really good hunt at our Berry Hill hunt country in Greeneville. We started behind the stallion barn of the Dobb’s Blackberry Ridge Farm.  As we hacked past all those big Irish Draft stallions, one of the studs was trotting up and down the fence row showing off.  At least until I got there, then he went still and stood in awe, because he could tell how awesome I am. (Gretchen’s Note: Oh for Pete’s sake, do you really think anyone believes that?)

We went to the cattle field to the left of the stallion barn, but the hounds didn’t find anything in the coverts around the river.  So we went to the road and hacked over to the other side of the river to the farm called Big Valley.  I lost track of the hounds and First Flight right after crossing bridge, as the pack hit hard on a yellow coyote. Gretchen and I raced the Hilltoppers up the wooded trail, through the kudzu forest and down to the earthen dam in the woods.  Neither Gretchen nor I had been to the dam before, so she stopped to get try to figure out where to go.  There was a very steep, winding trail up the ridge through the trees to “Andy’s Gate” or another trail that stayed down low in the creek gully before the dam.

I told her to go up, so we might hear better.  So she looked back at our field to gauge the field’s skill level.  We had two green horses and two juniors with the field, but I knew everyone could handle it.   I hollered back for everyone to keep a good distance and to grab their neck strap.  We ran up the hill as best we could, but there were two hairpin turns that had to be negotiated slowly to avoid losing a knee cap on the trees.  We all made it up the trail to find that Andy’s Gate was a terrible gate consisting of a branch and barb wire.   I have since had a talk with Andy, and he has put in a proper gate.  (Gretchen’s Note:  I hope you didn’t dare “have a talk with Andy”.  A proper gate was always planned to be put in there. So hush.)

So as we waited for the junior to try to open this impossible gate, we hear Gro, who was whipping-in, down at the bottom yelling at his wife Rosie, the First Flight Field Master.  He keeps yelling and yelling, and finally we figured out that he thought we were First Flight.  When we hollered back to him, he said to get down to the dam.

So back down we went.  The green horses were freaking out sliding down the muddy slope like that, but I kept telling them to relax and keep their heads up.  We get to the bottom, and here comes First Flight.  Rosie tells me “Good Job” for being in the right place at the right time.  I really like Rosie; she recognizes greatness when she sees it.

Then Gro said that we needed to get back up the hill to Andy’s Gate.  So up we went again!

After getting through the gate, we cantered along to tops of the rolling, close-cropped cattle pastures.  It felt like a roller coaster – such fun!  I did open up into a gallop, and Gretchen kept looking back to be sure the green horses and juniors were handling the speed.  Everyone was grinning!

We came to the bend in the hilltop where we saw the llamas on Opening Meet, and I started to look around for those strange, other-worldly lispers.  But they were across the fence on top of the next hill.  And what was running right through them?  Our yellow coyote!  We got a great view of the coyote winding his way through all the fuzzy legs and the llamas long necks all turning together to watch it run through them.  The hounds were not far behind, and they ignored those llamas like the good pups I know them to be.  Gretchen got some good photos with her zoom lens, and for once I was very, very still for her!  (Gretchen’s Note:   You were very still and I did get the coyote in focus.  You got an extra oat berry scone for that.  Good little man.)

The chase was over in another 30 minutes.  Andy thinks that the yellow coyote’s den is in the next ridge, because we have lost him in those woods twice now.  I volunteered to go den hunting with Andy any time he wants.

Such fun!  Happy New Year fellow foxhunters! Kick on in 2012!

Respectfully submitted,

Ziggy Pelham, TVH’s Awesome Hunt Horse

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