The Moingona Hunt of Iowa-Kansas hosted its Annual Invitational Hunt on the weekend of September 22-23, 2012, with the Sunday hunt being dedicated to the Pony Clubs of Iowa.
Members from three clubs, Prairie Jumpers, Silver Bits, and the Timber Ridge Pony Club, arrived on Saturday at the home of MFH Tommy and Jessica Ghrist in southern Iowa. After settling in they were treated to an afternoon trail ride through hunt country to get a feel for what they could expect on Sunday.
Temperatures dipped to near freezing Saturday night which offered spectacular hunting conditions for Sunday morning: crisp, cool, and no wind, which is something we have not seen in many months.
As always, the Pony Club kids were outstanding. They were properly turned out, waivers and paper work were turned in, ponies and horses neat, clean and mounted and ready to go in plenty of time. After announcements were made by MFH Tommy Ghrist, the riders were divided in to three flights: first flight would be jumping coops, second would walk, trot and canter, and the third flight would be a walk only group. I happily took this group as I had a really fun time with the kids last year, and this year I had some adults and experienced riders on green horses; about twelve of us in all.
I was initially a little concerned about being able to show good sport at a walk, but as it turned out….the coyote and hounds took care of that concern! Because of the summer drought and an over population, many deer are suffering and dying from blue tongue disease. This is creating feeding grounds for our local coyote, which is very sad for the deer, but very fortunate for the coyote, our hounds, and the foxhunters.
As always, Ken George, our professional Huntsman, starts with a settled pack of hounds and then quietly casts themin to covers, working his way south and east through the beautiful rolling hills of southern Iowa. An early fall is making for spectacular viewing even if no coyote are found, which does not happen often. Within 40 minutes of casting 23 couple of hounds, four coyotes were found in dense covert in a cattle pasture. My walk group had come to a fence line just as the hounds opened, so we stopped and listened to the Music, with all the kids getting really excited. They spotted the hunted coyote trying to slip away in our direction and watched as the speed and drive of our hounds overpowered the cunning and craftiness of the coyote. These pony club kids are the true future foxhunters as they cheered the hounds on and watched in awe as the hunt unfolded in front of their eyes. Eventually, Ken, along with staff and the rest of the fields found their way to our location, and gone to ground was played. So really, who says you have to ride hard, and ride fast to see the action of a foxhunt? I have led the gate group many, many times over the years, and almost always we are blessed with seeing more hound work and more coyotes than the field.
At the end of the hunt, the pony club kids and their parents and guests were treated to a great brunch provided by Jessica Ghrist, and an award was presented to the kids that will become a traveling trophy to be passed among the Pony Clubs of Iowa.
We are fortunate to have several very active Pony Clubs in Iowa, but sadly, they all live quite a distance from our fixtures. Regardless, I know these kids will have fond memories of their experience of foxhunting with Ken George and The Moingona Hounds.
Diane Hickman is MFH of the Moingona Hunt, which has territory in the great states of Iowa and Kansas.