It's been a long time since I've posted on this forum asking for advice on hunting. I'm back, and have a question for the group. Would you take a 4 year old out hunting, with the hopes of hunting regularly, when said mount has only been under saddle for three months, has gone on one trail ride, and two hacks around different show grounds.
I did take her out Roading behind our hounds for a total of 10 minutes. We were so far behind the group, when the disappeared around the corner and were out of sight, she planted her feet and refused to go. I was so thrilled that she was OK around hounds, and hacked behind a couple of rambunctious youngsters without losing her head, I was happy to call it a day. I did take her out our first day of Cubbing for about 15 minutes, and again she was wonderful, except for a bit of walking around at the first check. (Again, I turned around and hacked back with a buddy after 15 minutes or so.)
So here's my hesitation... We now have fairly good power steering, brakes have been installed and she's fairly sensible. I don't want her to loose her cool and think that every outing is going to be at top speed, and that the driver is nothing more than a passenger. Should I spend more time out trail riding her before I throw her in the fray?
This is by no means the first horse I've introduced to the hunt field, but she is by far the youngest. I did learn this weekend that deep ditches with a small stream might be a challenge for us, so REALLY need to get out and school ditches, or should I let the group and energy from the horses around her encourage her to get OVER it.
I look forward to input and happy to answer any questions.
If you can take her out and call it a day after short spurts one day a week to every other week, and mainly go 3rd flight....maybe.
My worry is that she isn't fit enough to handle the banging of hunting 1st and 2nd flight.
She is doing really well, but she may just be OVERWHELMED by the sensory overload.
If she were mine, and the only mount I had for hunting, I'd take her out 3rd flight only, and only once every week or two, and SLOWLY build up her time out in the hunt field, until she stays out for an 60-90 minutes depending on the pace of the day.
I took my 5 year old out 3rd flight at the beginning of his first season and we worked our way up to 2nd and the amount of time we stayed out by the end of the season. As a 6yo, his 2nd season, we started in 3rd for a hunt or two, then up to second, ending in first flight. He is getting ready to start his 3rd season. We will begin in 2nd and move up to 1st.
I am one who will move from field to field (or go home early) as I feel like my horse needs it.(I do try to pick appropriate times and excuse myself.) If he is being an @$$, he's not having fun, I'm not having fun, and NO ONE around me is having fun, so it is in everyone's best interest to make a change.
With that said, I would only do this if you know your territory and can get back to the trailer easily on your own, and if you have asked which way is least likely to cause an issue. It is not unusual in our hunt for people to go in early. The hunts can last 2-6 hours and not everyone can commit to a long day. People excuse themselves at a check, ask which way back to the trailers to avoid disrupting the hunt and let others know that they are headed in, if anyone wants to join...
thank you for your words of wisdom. Yes, we do have a Third flight and I have every intention of bringing her in BEFORE she feels tired. As an Irish/Arab cross, she's fairly fit, and recovers quickly, but I wouldn't expect to stay out for more than a half hour maybe an hour if it's a slow day. Once a week sounds like a good idea, and trail riding as well, so she learns the difference.
Knowing the territory and having friends that will call it a day when I'm ready makes it near impossible not to go and do.
OP, your horse sounds very nice!! In my hunt the hilltopper field will do a lot of babysitting horses new to hunting. Usually the green bean has a buddy already committed to ride with them in the group so that if our pace gets faster than what they need to do they can stay back and catch up, with the caveat of always being aware of the huntsman and hounds.
Seems like deciding when to allow speed is done on a horse by horse basis. I've only started a handful of horses hunting and the last one I started I trotted her the entire first season. We did lot of long, swinging trots and easy canters but she could get a head of steam so wide open galloping wasn't an option. I've had friends start a mature/career change horse mid season and after a few hunts they felt comfortable moving the horse up to first or second field. My amateur rider, keep it safe, opinion is that a horse will always give you speed so go nice and slow to set a solid, obedient tone.
I *had* to do this with my horse same age, same amount of time under saddle.
I was free leasing a "made" hunt horse for the season, but as it turns out we were just not jiving at all. After we parted ways for the third time during cubbing(!), I decided if I was going to come off, it may as well be off my own horse.
We don't have a 3rd field, but she went in 2nd field, and we went in early most hunting days. She's now happily a first flight horse for the past 2 seasons.