So here we are at week four of the season, fourth time out side saddle, and home with four shoes in place. In sharp contrast to last week yesterday was my most local meet, in an area that I have hacked to in the past. To save “horse miles” we boxed Bluey to my grandparents’ farm about a mile away and I hacked from there. Parking at the meet was restricted by the Eisteddfod, which for those who don’t know, is a day of competitions involving singing, reciting, writing, and sometimes dancing. One of the most traumatic memories of my school days (and that is saying something) is winning the English “Chair” for creative writing and having to stand in front of my peers wearing a purple velvet cloak while a sword was almost- but-not-quite drawn over my head (and the heads of those who had won the two “Crowns” and the Welsh “Chair”) and the Head Boy shouted for peace.
Enough of that, let’s get on with the hunting report.
Using a tractor to get on Bluey. They didn’t do this in Downton Abbey…
The rat catcher is packed away (read: flung on the floor somewhere), the plaiting bands and tail cotton are out, and the mud of opening meet has been brushed off. That’s right; the season is open, tally ho!
You will note the #1 in the title. That is because, lucky as I am to subscribe to two packs, I have two opening meets. Saturday’s was the turn of the Carmarthenshire, with a splendid parade of over eighty riders.
The last time I rode a cob I was twelve and it ended in the chestnut mare dropping her shoulder- and me- at the top of the drive, a final act of unkindness that sent her to Llanybydder horse mart, a place known to hold the worst of West Walian horseflesh. Therefore it was with some concern that I was legged up on to Erica, a black mare of around fifteen hands, who is for sale and currently in the hands of one of the Carmarthenshire’s resident horse dealers and a hunting stalwart.
The problems of not having my own transport mean that while I drove the three hours back to Wales Bluey remained sulking in Worcestershire while his friends Henry and Lola and the hunt horses made the journey to the Croome’s Boxing Day meet in the town of Pershore. While he has been dismissed as little more than a hunting pony, and he certainly wouldn’t stand up to a hard day in the Shires or a morning carrying anyone over five foot five Bluey is, in my opinion at least, the very best horse to hunt. What more can you ask for than an animal that stands at the meet, goes to sleep at checks and yet can surge forward with the smooth acceleration of a Ferrari and lead the field in the full knowledge that he can easily reach 10mph faster? Therefore I am always a little hesitant at the thought of hunting another horse.
Erica the hunting cob