Saturday, September 20, 2008

Ware Bees! Again!

Another fun day hunting. The leaves are changing and there was a thin frost on the ground as we pulled into the meet. I decided to ride Hilltop today to keep it slow and easy. I am very glad we did because the territory was unbelievably rocky. It's the kind of terrain that is rocky, mixed with mud, and hidden under leaves so horses cannot pick their way and think they are landing on turf and instead land on sharp rocks. After nearly four hours of hunting, moving fast, Brego was noticeably foot sore.

So I packed his feet with magic cushion and put him in his boots to take the sting off. Poor guy. I will likely not hunt that territory again until I get better hoof protection.

Brego did alright at the back of the hilltoppers pack (riders wishing to jump must stay at the back), but he had a lot of trouble at the beginning and each time the hounds voiced. He could not understand why we were so far from the action. He never acted up, but his energy was high and he jigged and I am glad I was on him to turn it into a teaching exercise. He's not quite packer safe at hilltop, but we had a pretty positive experience.

I talked with some of the staff who invited/suggested I ride in an upcoming Hunter Trial which our hunt usually does well in. I was the only new member to get the invite since you have have to be ready to jump and jump big. It's for confirmed first fielders with jumps at 3' to 3'6". It's over a couple of miles. The staff assured me that if I could event novice, I would be fine both technically and conditioning wise. I am mulling it over, but I will have to see. It's in a month and we're supposed to go school with the hunt at some point to practice and I will make my decision then. Brego is ready for a step up, if his conditioning is there, and a hunter trial which is not timed would allow me to go at my own pace. But the fences will be big and some of the staff are three star riders on very capable horses so they may even be playing it down a bit.

I'm not sure we're ready to run with the big dogs, but I am so tempted. Especially after riding hilltoppers today. I am a total hunting junkie and the thought of going fast and jumping big with my hunt makes me happy. Brego seemed to also be frustrated with today's pace, but I am not sure if he knows what he is getting himself into. It's up to me to say when.

Oh yea, and we hit more bees today. Brego was stung six times and although he hopped sideways a bit, he never acted up. It was also early in the ride and his energy was HUGE so I was really proud of him for not taking advantage of the excuse to kill me. Luckily, I was not stung.

This is my least favorite part of the week, because now I have the longest amount of time to wait until the next hunt. And next week's territory is one of my favorites. Lots of big fences and open fields and NO ROCKS.


Katie said...

Those bees sound nasty! Our pony club used to have a resident bee hive that would attack when provoked and a few people had to make galloping getaways on their horses which was highly amusing from a standbyer's POV (no one was hurt so it was ok to laugh).

Just a quick question? How did you deal with Brego's jig jogging? I know there a few different methods (there always are when it comes to horses) and I just want to see what you do and if it works for you.


Daun said...

Hey Katie,
I am probably in the minority bu I tend to ignore it. If we're moving straight ahead and otherwise safely, I sit deep, making sure I give him no cue to break gait, and thank him for the excellent sitting trot practice. If he's moving sideways into a tree, I take evasive action, making him go forward almost in a shoulder in. Give him something else to focus on.

Honestly, Brego is not a chronic jigger and he is rarely so enthusiastic about his work that I find myself holding him back. So I try to appreciate the enthusiasm but maintain my "leadership". He is not allowed to take off without permission. If we are trotting and horses ahead start to canter, I can feel him ask me if he should go. Sometimes I check slightly and we stay trotting. Other times I open my hip and we canter. But he must ask. If he transitions into the canter without my cueing him, even subconsciously, I bring him back to the trot.

Anyway, I digressed. But in general, Brego's jigging is an expression of joy or enthusiasm for moving forward and not an evasion, so I try to ignore it. He stands at checks and doesn't jig, so just jigging a little on a trail at a walk is not nearly so annoying or dangerous.

dp said...

Katie: I have a TB who jigs in a typically TB kind of way. My strategy is almost exactly the same as Daun's at any gait. Ignore the jigging, and correct any unrequested transitions. She also tends to jig at a halt if she's worked up and this I do not ignore. Ho means Ho, and I will either back her up fast for 10 steps or circle her several times on her less flexible side. The basic lesson is that jigging at a HO results in work that makes her uncomfortable -- much easier just to stand. After 6 months of doing this consistently she stands dead still about 95% of the time and I work on HO a lot with her under all conditions. Instead of jigging she almost always turns to look at me now if she's feeling anxious at a halt.

Good luck!

fssunnysd said...

Love the hunt posts! Sounds as if Brego's getting to be a hunt-junky, too :)

Laura said...

Love the hunt posts too - it must be really fun. Glad to hear that Brego is handling it all so well. You must be so happy with him.

I wish I was brave and confident enough to do that - I'm such a chicken - lol!

Meaghan said...

I was reading your blog and watching some of your videos, we just got a 4 year old Percheron and my plans are to jump him eventually. Most of my expierence is with TB and QH, any advice for working with Percherons?

Katie said...

Thanks for the help Daun and dp.
My soon to be new horse apparently jig jogs when he is being bought back into work and I want to make sure I am prepared.

Daun said...

All the advice I have on working with a Percheron is in this blog, in more detail than I could write up in a comment. So take a look around and if there is a specific area you would like me to address or add more detail about, please comment or email me at eventingpercheron at gmail dot com.