This past January my Tennessee Valley Hunt had a joint meet with the Belle Meade Hunt down in Georgia. We hunted for two days down in the pine scrub. Gretchen had been down to Belle Meade four years before, but back then she took that horribly uppity and large pony with her instead of me. Humph. I must admit that when she lead me out of the field to load up I stuck my tongue out at him.
We were traveling with the same other TVH ladies that we went with to Long Run in Kentucky. I was to be the third horse in a two horse slant load. Again!! This is mortifying. I DO NOT FIT in the corner where the saddle rack usually goes. [Gretchen’s Note: I’m sorry to contradict, but yes you do fit! Quite well, actually. You’re like one of those pocket puppies who can fit in a purse. The only trouble was closing the door on your overstuffed hindquarters. The fat rolls got stuck in the doors.]
I did not get any part of me stuck in the door! [Gretchen’s Note: Oh, so you do admit that you fit!] Oh, shut yer trap, woman. You are so annoying.
We arrived the night before the first hunt. The Scarlet Wench, Gretchen, put me in a stall next to the horse belonging to Ryan Johnsey, my huntsman for TVH. Pooh came to really depend on my advice of how to do his job. [Gretchen’s Note: Stop telling stories.]
The first hunt started at 3 pm the next day, so Pooh, my huntsman’s horse, and I had lots of time to talk and strategize. He wanted to know how I handle covering the ground so quickly and effortlessly. I told that it’s not something that you can learn, you have to born with it, as I have been so blessed. However, I did try to coach him on how to move at the gallop over uneven terrain. Pooh was so grateful! [Gretchen’s Note: Oh for Pete’s sake, you are making that up! Pooh is an Off The Track Thoroughbred. He has done more galloping than you have ever done in your dreams! He did NOT ask you for advice. He was fascinated by the lone hound that was wearing a midget horse blanket in the barn with him. He couldn’t figure out why you weren’t in the kennels with the rest of the pack.]
How insulting! I tell you, Gretchen will get it from me the next time we cross Lick Creek after a good rain. She will need a snorkel and mask on that day, I assure you. Wench. [Gretchen’s Note: If you cross Lick Creek after a good rain, my dear little pony, then you will need your own snorkel. You are not quite near as tall as your ego, sweet little cockapoo.]
I’m ignoring the Wench. I suggest everyone else do the same as I.
We hunted from the Belle Meade kennels each day. Epp Wilson, the Belle Meade huntsman and Joint Master, hunted his pack of crossbreds with Ryan and our Penn-Marydels. Each day the pack worked very well together. And there were a few of their crossbreds with voices so deep and musical that they sounded like our PMDs.
The first day Gretchen and I went with Hilltoppers. I was not thrilled with this arrangement, but when we galloped out of the pine scrub into a field with the combined pack running in full cry just ahead of us in the open field I didn’t mind so much. I just love galloping to the tempo of hound music, don’t you?
The hounds had picked up a grey fox, viewed by our Hilltopper Field Master and John Hawkinson, the husband of my Joint Master Carla Hawkinson. We were in the woods, and the fox was just 20 – 30 yards away from us. I was right behind John, but the horribly overstuffed Wench in my saddle had me turned around facing the other way so she could get pictures. I missed the view because of her.
I really have to figure out how to come to these hunts without her. I just need to figure out how to drive the truck. It can’t be that hard. After all, cracking the Wench’s PayPal account was a piece of cake. [Gretchen’s Note: I hope all the Little Debbie snack cakes and cases of beer you bought with my PayPal money was worth it. Thief. Oh, and by the way, I canceled your Netflix subscription. No more streaming for you.]
She thinks she canceled it. Ha ha ha! And yes, the little barn party I threw with her money was very much worth it.
Unfortunately, that run on the grey didn’t last very long. The grey ran to the one corner where we couldn’t follow, among thousands of acres that is Belle Meade hunt country. It was short but sweet run.
The next day we had a couple of short runs as well. Gretchen finally let me go with Second Flight (which hunts at “fox hunting speed”, as opposed to First Flight which goes at “coyote hunting speed”). I kept up quite well, jumped several logs, but we had one little coop that the Wench totally messed up for me. I had to keep her safe, you see, even though she doesn’t deserve it. So I stopped at the base so she wouldn’t make a fool of herself and go over the top. [Gretchen’s Note: It was my fault, I agree. It was at an angle off a road, so you couldn’t canter to it. There was a loss of rhythm and momentum when we turned on the short approach. I should have spurred you.] If you had of spurred me, Wench , I would have made sure you were dumped on the other side!
After that, we dropped back to Hilltoppers as there were more coops with short approaches in the woods. I admit that I need a long approach to build up speed to jump a coop with that hefty, overstuffed Wench in my saddle. LOTS of momentum needed to get her butt into the air.
We hunted until dark that second day. And I must say, hacking home in the complete dark, guided to the barn by a star, was a new experience for me. I’m not sure I want to repeat it, but I’m glad to say that I have hunted Belle Meade and survived!
Ziggy Pelham, the Most Awesome Hunt Horse!