Sterling has the least appropriate registered name of any horse I’ve ever owned. Queens Black Tie. I don’t remember his bloodlines and I don’t know Thoroughbred lineage very well, but his name really says absolutely nothing about him. Which is why his barn name is Sterling. At least it indicates his color! When I bought Sterling nearly six years ago Boot City and I thought it appropriate to give him a barn name that matched his personality and was derived from something to do with where the breed originated. The modern thoroughbred originated in England and he’s grey so we landed on Sterling. I think it fits him quite nicely. Don’t you?
Sterling looking dapper
He’s seven years old now and has become quite a lovely horse to ride. I consider myself an advanced rider, but when it comes to jumping I am definitely more towards the beginner skill level of knowledge. I’ve had Sterling since he was a yearling and for the most part have taught him everything he knows. This is why it is somewhat of a miracle how lovely he is to jump. The horses I jumped when I was a kid were all Quarter Horses with cowhorse bloodlines and one in particular was a really dirty stopper. He’d go up to the jumps like he was going to go over no problem, then slam on the brakes at the last second. Not the best way to build confidence in a 13 year old kid learning to jump. That and my cowboy Dad wasn’t the most supportive of my love for English riding.
Ready for a ride
Sterling and I have been taking lessons at a jumper barn not far from where I live. The same barn I bought Coco from. Kayce has a lot of patience with my ingrained habits to ride with really long reins and going much too slow. My hope is that by the time Coco is old enough to start riding and jumping Sterling will have helped me advance my knowledge to a point where I won’t inhibit her progress and talent. I took Sterling to a few regional shows last year and plan to do the same this year. He’s jumping 2’9″ rather easily now and his lead changes are delightful. But the best part is that he’ll jump pretty much anything I point him at, unlike Giorgio!
The view from up here. We have a lot of yucca on our property.
It’s always bittersweet to attend the last hunt of the season. I love the formality, but hate to see the season end. The first and last hunts are the most formal, at least they are with the hunt I’m a member. Horses are gussied up with baths and braids. There are usually more guests attending. The meal is a little fancier after the ride.
Thankfully the weather was warmer for closing than opening this season. I rushed home after work on Friday night to get Noelle bathed while the sun was still out.
I don’t think I’ve ever bathed Noelle before. It wasn’t her first bath, but I don’t think she loved it. She kept trying to get the hose in her mouth. I’m not sure if that was to play or just to get it away from me! Spring is shedding season so between her taking the hose away and all the hair flying around I was a filthy mess and she was squeaky clean.
I got up early the morning of the hunt to braid her mane. She was a patient girl and I just love how the horses look when they are all braided.
All dressed up
It rained a bit early on so we dressed our horses all up in sheets to keep our saddles dry before heading out.
Ready to go!
We had a great turnout for Closing. Most of our regular members as well as a few guests. It was an exciting end as we really got to see the hounds work. The scent was rising fast, but the hounds were on it! I learn more every season about the hounds and how our hound master guides them. Hopefully next year I’ll get to ride up with the hound master a few times.
Release the hounds!
Noelle was great. This is the first hunt season I’ve ridden her so you never know how the horse will react to the commotion. No matter how old or seasoned the horse they can have a strong reaction to the hounds or the other horses on the hunt. I rode with the Hilltopping group who traditionally ride on the hilltops and watch the faster groups. In reality we ride pretty close behind the first field, depending on the terrain of the property. In this photo the first field is in front of us. The field masters wear the red coats and we ride behind the masters. There is much tradition in the hierarchy of where people ride. Collar colors denote status as do buttons with the hunt’s initials. I’m at the very back of the group. Not because of the hierarchy, but because Noelle is kind of slow.
Closing Hunt 2014
In a few weeks the hound show season will start. So, until November, this is the last hunt post! Tally ho, y’all!
“Elegance is when the inside is as beautiful as the outside.” Coco Chanel
A very lovely creature celebrates her second birthday today!
I forget how much horses change in the first few years of their lives.
Sometimes I still have to pinch myself that I’m so lucky to have Coco Chanel. She is the daughter of Mai Tai, an up and coming jumper at October Hill Farm by the late Coconut Grove. She exemplifies the best in both of her parents. I can’t wait to see what her future holds!
Anna Routh Photography
Next year at this time she’ll be getting her first rides and having a rendezvous with Cartier R at Rising Star Farms!
Happy second birthday Coco Chanel!
November brings with it many reasons to be excited. Family gatherings to celebrate Thanksgiving, the launch of Christmas season, the leaves changing colors on the trees, and Opening Hunt! I was introduced to fox hunting in Texas in the fall of 2010 and fell in love with the sport instantaneously. The lovely horses, dapper hunt coats, flasks of good cheer, handsome hounds and the overall camaraderie of riders.
Opening Hunt this year was a bit later in November than is customary which may be why it was SO much colder than usual! When I arrived at the hunt I was greeted with messages that we were going to go ahead and bless the hounds, but skip actually riding out as it was cold and freezing rain. Many of us were disappointed at the prospect of not riding after getting up early (or staying up late) to braid horses and prepare formal hunt attire so were delighted when the decision was reversed to ride out. Some had already taken horses back to cozy stalls, but about 15 riders remained and made the best of the cold weather.
Our Masters and hunt staff led the hound blessing for the 2013-2014 hunt season and we were off. The weather started to turn when we were about half way out and so we turned for an earlier than normal arrival back to the host’s home for lunch, but it was well worth the ride out. One rider was unseated, but incurred no injury other than pride. Many of the hounds were young and hunting only for the second or third time. No quarry was followed, but we did see rabbits and deer.
I look forward to the remaining hunt season with my old partner, Jaguar.