...is where our hunting path does go!
Ok, ok. I probably could totally rewrite that song to fit a day of hunting, but I think that would probably be way too much for you all. Am I right? *grin*
Today's hunt was the last before our Christmas break. We won't reconvene until New Year's Day, but alas! I will not being joining them then because I'll be in North Carolina, enjoying many splendid things with my best friend, including a spa day (I hope).
As such, there was little that could have stopped me from hunting today. I didn't get much else accomplished in the horse department because I commenced holiday baking today. But at 2pm sharp, I arrived at the barn and got that trailer hitched up. By 2:45 we were out the gate and on our way.
On Wednesdays, we normally run from the kennels because we don't have much time or much daylight to work with. But today we had a little change of scenery. We started from Wild Air's North Farm. Belongs to the same people who own the main hunting grounds, just a little bit up the road and cut off from the main farm by a major highway.
It's a lovely, quiet setting. Old, old barns and split rail fencing. There are three houses on the property, all occupied. I wish the house adjacent to the barn was vacant...I bet Mrs. Johnson* rents it out and I would love to inquire about renting it *and* the barn to run a business. It's the perfect size for a start up. Probably needs some fixing up, but still a very functional barn with probably 10 stalls and run-in sheds along the outside to boot.
Anyway...hunting. 13 of us showed up for today's run. It wasn't nearly as bone-chilling cold as it has been. Lovely weather actually...bright and sunny with clouds on the horizon letting us know that the storm predictions for tonight are spot on. I wore my heavy wool coat and was toasty as soon as we began moving.
What I love about hunting in the snow is the peace and quiet of it. The sound hoof beats are muffled--or even silenced--by the deep snow sitting on top of the not-quite-frozen earth. Over creek crossing and through mucky fields, their hooves sink through the snow and create a crisp, quick snap as they break through that thin bit of ice into the wet clay. Otherwise...utter silence. Silence as thirteen 1,000 pound horses gallop across the landscape and leap over jumps up to three foot high. Silence. And because we are mid-way into the season and everyone is well conditioned by now, even their breathing is quiet, calm.
Honestly, today was disconcertingly quiet because the bay of the hounds was largely absent. In the cold and snow, they had trouble finding and keeping the scent. They only really opened up to sing once or twice. Otherwise, it was only a note here and there, followed by long stretches of quiet, slow hounds, noses to the ground trying their best to find their query.
But slow can be good. Our jaunts through the woods were rocking-chair canters and easy approaches to the jumps. Our stretches across corn fields were long, endurance-building trots, horses' necks stretched out low to make the work easier.
And when we circled back to North Farm proper again, we came to an easy stop. The scenting may have been bad, but it was still a pleasant day spent in good company. The weather was not so bitter, the footing not quite so slick. We all congratulated ourselves on a lovely day of hunting and parted ways saying, "Merry Christmas! See you on New Year's Day!"Lu with his trusty mount and the hounds at a check two weeks ago
Photo courtesy of TJ Cole( Snapshots from November and December with TPH )