Seventeen-year-old Morgan Gracey and her mom, Christine, can often be found hunting together on two Appaloosas, who also happen to be related. Marty, the dam, was one of Morgan’s first regular hunting mounts when she was a pre-teen. Marty’s offspring, Pride, doubles as Morgan’s hunting and eventing horse.
“Hunting with mom is nice because we can both ride together. We pull up to the hunts and get out of the truck and everyone says ‘Good morning, Graceys!” Morgan said. “With eventing, mom is more grooming for me and helping me out. She did her first event this year and I was her groom!”
When Morgan started hunting with her mom at ten years old, “they told me to keep my heels down and I got packed around.” She rode Marty for a few years before upgrading to a Thoroughbred called Rush.
Morgan brought Pride, now nine years old, along herself. “I was the first one on him and taught him everything. When he was six I took him out on his first hunt and he was good. He’s taken well to it.”
She has found hunting to be a great benefit to Pride when he goes to horse trials. “Hunting is great for the horses. It’s fun not to just be riding them in the ring all the time,” Morgan said, adding that it’s also a good switch from practicing dressage and show jumping.
“Pride is a lot more confident leaving the start box after he’s hunted. They see so much when they’re hunting. When we’re going past a spooky fence on cross country, he doesn’t bat an eye.”
Morgan’s newest horse is a New Zealand Thoroughbred called Kyeburn. He is an experienced eventer but he is still adjusting to hunting life. “He went on a hound exercise a couple of weeks ago to try something new. He didn’t bat an eye at the dogs and he was great on the road. On the way back to the kennels he was doing a lovely collected canter with flying lead changes!”
Morgan said she plans to do some more hound exercises with him to help him get used to his new job before hunting him and jokes that ever since Rush she’s had the reputation for riding “crazy” Thoroughbreds in the field.
Christine became a Master of the Eglinton and Caledon in Ontario this year, and Morgan is now following in her footsteps as part of the staff. She began as an apprentice whip last year and is helping the hunt’s new whip learn the territory this season.
“If they need me to whip, lead the field, stay at the back and take of the little kids, I can do all that,” Morgan said. “There’s usually a Gracey at the front and at the back!”
For her last year of high school, Morgan is required to do 40 hours of community service, so she’s happily spending more time at the kennels to meet that requirement.
“I like the hounds. I’m more the type of person that wants to cuddle them. It’s crazy walking 12 week old puppies and they’re already starting to hunt and take off!”
As she prepares for college, Morgan knows she will stay close to home so she can continue riding during the week and keep up with her hunting and eventing passions.