Mixed feelings about my young fox hunter . . . your thoughts?

Short version: my friend took out my young hunter, and rode him much better than I did (or ever have). She was noticed by the masters and members with “what a great horse!” comments abounding during and after the hunt. She’s now had my young horse out three times, and continues to impress everyone (including me who had no idea my young fellow could do the big, complicated fences and combinations she’s put him to.)

So, well, I’m a bit jealous of her!

Long version: My old (22 years old) hunter was unable to hunt for two years (heaves, now somehow cured, and then a hoof abscess that took 6 months to resolve and he had to grow a new hoof) --when the heaves were thought to be a permanent unsoundness (clearly not), I bought a young (10 year old) QH gelding. He is a wonderful horse, beautifully trained, a joy to ride. What he didn’t have was jumping on his resume. For four years using two trainers, we started with ground poles, and gradually, this summer he was doing a 2’ 4 course well. But on the hunt field, he never was “to my taste” as my old hunter.

The old hunter is dead quiet, sleeps at checks, keeps his distance, and jumps everything. The young fellow is eager, joyful, passionate about keeping with the hounds --and just “more horse” than I enjoy --however --in the 4, now 5 seasons he’s been out, he has never put a foot wrong --no buck, no rear, no disobedience. But he occasionally chips in, jumps long, or otherwise isn’t as smooth over fences.

I was griping to my friend about him --she’d been out with me a few times with her riding my old hunter --and she said, “Why aren’t you hunting the old fellow?” --lightbulb! So we switched horses the next hunt. I am so happy --I even took the old horse to the mega-vet (with all the fancy computer equipment) who said he was fine to hunt --I love hunting my old friend!

Meanwhile, I am a bit jealous that the young horse does so incredibly BETTER with my friend than he did with me —now, she’s 40 years younger than I am, and 40 pounds lighter ( young horse is 15 hh, I am almost 6’ tall --gal-pal is maybe 5’ 2) --and she has pretty extensive training in 3-Day riding —

I know this is best for the horse --and if dreams come true, about the time my old horse is no longer hunting, this young horse may well have settled in and become the hunt horse I want.

Meanwhile, hunting is only my winter sport --where the young horse excels is in my summer sport, Mounted Archery —oh, my gal-pal shoots too (sigh, better than me there, too), but she has a mare of her own that she uses for MA. And, my young horse is a lot of fun “just to ride,” which I do every day --ride the young fellow, pony the old guy and have fun.

Would you be just a tad jealous if someone rode your horse incredibly better than you ??

A tad, yup

Edited to add: That you are worried about feeling a little perfectly understandable jealousy says you are also a decent human being and a good friend.

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Absolutely. I’d have that tinge of jealousy. But deep down, I’d also be grateful that my young horse was getting such a good education in the hunt field while I still had my old favorite to ride.

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Nothing wrong with being a tad jealous.

I long ago accepted the fact that just about everyone in the world can ride my horse(s) better than I can.

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Totally understandable and human reaction. I had an uncharacteristic moment of jealousy myself the other week when the not-so-long-ago-total-beginner teens I was grouped with one day with had a way better jumping lesson than I did. I had a bad day, they had a good day, life went on but it sure did sting a bit at the time!

Honestly, it sounds like you have the best of all worlds at the moment. You get to hunt your favorite, your young horse gets some excellent mileage with an advanced rider, and you get to hang out with your friend doing what you love.

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Completely understandable. Focus on the long game, though - you’ll get the horse back as a completely made and established hunter.

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Understandable to feel a bit jealous, but you’re doing what’s best for his confidence and education. Do you think she’s just a little less concerned about a mistake or fall and therefor he’s more relaxed about it?

@Jenerationx, I think there’s a lot of positive things going on --Young rider has more recently done “big fences” in her 3-Day experience (I last rode that discipline in 1983). She has had far more specific Cross Country riding under a trainer/instructor than I ever did; her 3-Day horse was a fire breathing dragon --so riding Will, my horse, is a walk in the park compared to that mare. But mostly, I think it is “riding to impress,” – it’s fun to have the membership and masters admire ones skill —and she is skillful.

My friend has a clearer mind than I do when riding Will --I worry --am I in the right place to jump? Is he forward enough? And that’s the whole hunt for me when I ride him --worry! I think Will picks up on that “nervousness” and lack of confidence --I’ve fallen off him three times on the hunt field --twice was minor --once I got hurt. That’s in my mind at every fence. I’ve never fallen from my old horse – meanwhile, my friend has separated from Will three times too, in three hunts --but she lands on her FEET! No big deal!

So lots of good going on --lots of happy vibes for young horse, friend, and old horse.

Thank you for your reply!

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Yep, if you’re riding with the worry and thoughts of a fall in your mind, he’s probably picking up on that too, or at least maybe not getting an immediate and confident response. Meanwhile she’s got the advantage of riding just the present horse and situation and maybe more decisive and confident. That’s very hard to do, to just get the falls and the worries out of your head on a horse you know is somewhat inexperienced. Sounds like he’s getting some good miles and learning and may just turn into the steady Eddie you’re used to as he gets that experience.

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