Long time lurker, first time poster. Seeking kind advise, or just a reality check.
This is my second season hunting with a very small drag hunt. The people are lovely and we have a great time. My 10 year old TB (not off the track) gelding was a saint our first year. Never a spook, W/T/C/G and stop calmly at the checks. Great with the hounds, little grumpy towards the other horses, but everyone figured out how to give him space and he was great. I could put him anywhere in the field and he would act the same.
This year we were asked to lead first field- and by field, it is literally three riders including us. It’s a tiny hunt, very very low key. The hill topper field is larger, and they want the more experienced field masters to assist with some greener riders there. I agreed, felt comfortable with my role, and for the first four hunts so did my horse.
Unfortunately he started getting more and more apped up as we did more hunts. To the point where I bowed out a few hunts ago and asked one of the other field masters to swap with me so I could drop back. He’s fine when we’re actually chasing the hounds- listens well to my aides, stops and goes as requested, soft to the bridle. But the hacking between lines he jigs, canters sideways, and overall can’t settle. As soon as he hears the horns or the hounds baying he loses his mind until I can actually send him forward. Then he listens perfectly again during the gallop, stands quietly at the check, and is a great horse…until we start hacking to the next line again.
This has been the last four hunts. I’m an experienced rider with can handle a lot of shenanigans, but to be honest this is just not making hunting fun. I love the horse, he’s a great eventer, is typically very brave and stotic, and previously seemed to really enjoy hunting.
Looking for any advice, my hunt group is great, but horse trainers they are not.
Will give the obligatory information- saddle was fit 5 weeks ago, horse is fine trailering to lessons, and schooling cross country, so assuming it is not pain related. Horse is worse in second field and then ruins everyone else’s ride too. He is typically a very mellow kick ride and frequently gets confused as QH in temperament and physical resemblance.