Well, dear readers, Brego's true calling may not be setting the world on fire in Eventing competitions. It may just be riding to the hounds.
Today was our second hunt ever, after a fairly quick trip with a hunt down in Texas last year. I had heard good things about the territory so I was really excited. Big field, stone walls, pre-Colonial Farm house. Ah... this is why I moved to New England.
We arrived an hour early in time to see the "foxes" go out and lay the scent. This hunt is a drag hunt, so no live foxes are harmed in any way. Brego stood quietly, munching his hay. They announced that there would be no second field. They were going to field first and then hilltoppers and hilltoppers would be slow since there were a lot of green horses and riders. So I had to make a choice. Go big or go home, right? I decided to go first field, 'cause you know, that's how I roll.
They released the hounds, called them in and then we were off. And by off, I don't mean strolling along looking at the pretty fields. I mean full gallop across the fields. Brego was up and ready to go, he was very strong and I ended up with a bridge in my reins, holding him with every last sinew in my back. After a couple of runs, he calmed down enough that I could ride more comfortably. He was a total star, jumping everything, even some big fences (about 3'). Most of the first field gapped a lot of the fences, especially the skinny coops, but Brego was dead on. It was so cool to be riding in the middle of the field and watch horses split around a coop like a rock in a stream and then lock Brego on and he just sails over it. Honest, honest boy.
The day was going pretty darn well, and I was very pleased that I had chosen to go first field when we were stopped at a check and the hounds disturbed some ground bees. Before I could even understand what was happening, the field master was shouting "Ware bees!! Run!! Go fast!!" We were off. Brego had bees on his neck and head and I was stung right above my eye, on my neck, my shoulder, and my stomach. But even through the mad dash through the woods being chased by bees, Brego kept it under control, no bucking no rearing. When we finally stopped to make sure we were all still with us, I looked down and swatted the bees stinging Brego's leg. He stood immobile, a perfect soldier.
The day concluded after a nice tea. I had so much fun, it should be illegal. Brego had zero trouble with slipping, even in some deep mud. He cantered through and then eventually started jumping the boggier places. He kept up with the hounds and handled them moving all around him and underneath him on the wooded trails. He stood perfectly during the checks. We stayed with the field just fine and we even rode behind the field master for awhile. Then his completely professional response to the bees just blew me away.
The only thing I will change next time out is our bit. I am going to put him back in the baucher waterford and see if that gives me just a bit more stopping power for the beginning of the ride. I did NOT pass my field master, but we came darn close if not for some serious pulley rein on my part. The boy LOVES to go!!
I do not know what I have done to deserve such an amazing horse, but I must have been a saint in a former life. He is wise and experienced beyond his years and takes each new adventure with contagious enthusiasm.