What a day the Tennessee Valley Hunt had on September 17th! Our second hunt of the season, the first hunt opened to members, was EPIC! We started at Riverplains Farm, one of our favorite fixtures, with Andy Bozdan, our new huntsman. Yes, the Brit finally arrived! He flew in to DC on Tuesday, drove to Tennessee on Wednesday, had a staff hunt on Thursday, walked the hounds out on Friday, and hunted again on Saturday. “Jet lag is for wimps,” said Andy. Who needs sleep when an awesome pack of Penn-Marydels are waiting to be cast?
I tried to tell Andy about Riverplains and the importance of the Holston River (the country is a several hundred acre peninsula in the bend of the River), but Gretchen wouldn’t let me. That Woman spun me around and had the audacity to slap me quiet. If I wasn’t such a well-mannered and awesome Hunt Horse I would have dumped her off into the turkey pen. (Gretchen’s Note: You just try, you short lump of pony lard. You just try.)
So I led Hilltoppers, and the field included a new junior member, Alivia Cotter, on her POA, Shadow. Shadow was shorter than me, so I had to endure from the rest of the members how amazing it was that there is a pony out there smaller than me. And they went on and on about how he is so fuzzy and therefore cuter than me. (Gretchen’s Note: He was so cute! And much more polite than you. He greeted me with a proper, “Good Morning, Master”, while all I get from you is “Where’s my mint tea, Wench?”) I told him to ignore the idiot humans and just try to keep up with me. He was a game little guy and said he would try. He had a look of awe in his eyes as he watched every move I made. I think I like the new guy. (Gretchen’s Note: He was not awe struck, just trying to figure out if you were a hound or not!)
Oh, just ignore That Woman. Everyone else does.
Well, Andy took the hounds around the side of Frank and Cindi Niceley’s house to the corn field out back. The coyote was jumped out of the corn and ran towards the point of the bend.
I set the pace for my Hilltoppers at a smart hand gallop, and I was so proud that Alivia and Shadow handled it fine. P.O.A.’s are just the best there is. We ran to the old polo field and then up to the road that loops around the bend. We could tell the hounds passed through the Middle Woods to the other side of the bend, but there is no gate for Hilltoppers. So Gretchen decided to go down the road that would loop us around on the other side of the bend.
We could hear the hounds along the river bank on that side of the bend, so Gretchen took us off the road at Benny’s and down through his big field to his barn.
I got maybe 3 horse-lengths into the woods when Gretchen and I both spot a tail jump a log over the trail just a few feet in front of us. Gretchen said she saw a tail, but not what it was attached to. I said it had to be that coyote, as it was no fox brush. So we waited a few seconds, and just a minute behind came the hound Wilma down the hill in the woods to the left of us. She was quiet, but working hard for the scent. She jumped down to the trail right in front of me and started working her way forward to the log. Rebock, a big dog hound, also popped out of the woods right at the log, but it was Wilma who opened up first. Then the whole pack appeared out of the woods like magic, and they ran in Full Cry over the log towards the river bank.
We came up a very steep hill with Gretchen grabbing my neck strap to the field that starts the line of coops along the river bend. Then the pack came, working the line just inside the woods to the right of us. Andy galloped past us, then here came the coyote through the field!
The whole hunt viewed the loping coyote, including Andy. It was his first time seeing a coyote. He told me later he thought, “Ah, so that’s what coyotes look like!” Then he cheered on the fast approaching pack like a champion. I again hollered at him to give him my compliments. That Woman didn’t smack me this time. Man, it sure takes a long time to train these people. (Gretchen’s Note: I am so ignoring you.)
Anyhoo, the coyote ran towards the bend again, only to be caught by the pack. Andy saw that a hound had a hold of the coyote while it had two other hounds in its jaws. The coyote got clear from the pack and back tracked down the river bank past Benny’s. Gretchen and I had turned the Field around towards the road. We weren’t sure what had happened until Andy came screaming past us to get to Gro, who was further up on the riverbank waiting for everyone to show up.
Maxim, a puppy out on his very first hunt, had dispatched the coyote on the river bank. I was so proud of the pup!
Gro offered me the mask, and I was so proud! I did hear someone say that the mask would be too heavy for me and topple me over. I snapped my head around, but I couldn’t tell who said it. (Gretchen’s Note: I know who said it, but I told Andy him not to worry about you making it home. I said your ego is so inflated that the mask would have to be as big as a moose’s head to flip you over.) That Woman been telling everyone that the mask is hers. Yeah, right. When it comes back from the taxidermist it’s going up in my barn with me! (Gretchen’s Note: I’m paying for it to be mounted, so it goes in my house. Get a job, you free-loader.)
What a way to start the season!
Ziggy Pelham, The Most Awesome Hunt Horse EVER!