with Horse and Hound

Better Living Through Titanium Road Trip, Part Two

Juan Tomas Hounds Wagon Wheel Fixture February 11

In February 2024 I decided to take a road trip to hunt my way across the US and back after finally being cleared to ride again after a massive back surgery. This was my third hunt for the month, and the second in New Mexico.

Albuquerque, New Mexico at an Elevation of 6,700 feet in the High Desert

Since I didn’t fancy driving twelve hours in a snowstorm, I ended up another day in New Mexico. This meant that I could go out with Adren Nance, MFH and Huntsman for Juan Tomas Hounds based in Albuquerque.

Huntsman in red coat on horse standing in snow
Adren Nance MFH and Huntsman for Juan Tomas / photo credit Gretchen Pelham

We met at the Wagon Wheel Fixture, which is a ranch pasture that is about 20 miles from fence to fence. The county landfill was where we parked for the meet, so coyotes can easily be found in the wide-open pasture. I was reminded that stationary tumbleweeds are to be avoided, as they are only still if they are stuck in a rabbit hole or in an arroyo.

Adren’s pack is mostly American hounds with several Bluewater blood from Potomac Hunt. He described his pack as “young and salty”, implying that they were hard-headed and difficult. But the control he had over them would rival the most disciplined pack I’ve ever seen. When he opened the hound trailer door, the entire pack waited silently for him to give the command to exit. Then he walked them to the first gate on foot.

The 12-and-half couple of hounds found a coyote after the pack had dropped off an embankment. As the Field of three riders (and three whipper-ins) picked our way down, we all got the view of the coyote and the pack hot on its brush. I got so excited that I ended up cantering my horse, who I was told would never canter. She belonged to Adren’s mother, Beth Nance, and I have to tell you that little mare was one of the best hirelings I’ve ever had the pleasure to ride. She neck reined, half-halted, never tail-gaited, and was sure-footed as hell. While I never asked her to canter, I sure didn’t complain when she offered a nice lope. I was grinning from ear to ear.

Hounds then picked up another coyote, but it ran quickly out of country into state land we did not have permission to hunt on. After gathering up the pack, we watered the hounds yet again and started the hack home. Just before the landfill, Adren asked the field, all three of us, to feather out down a drain to try to flush out any coyotes that might be hanging out there. It was fun to pretend to whip-in again. My little mare and I scrambled up a steep bank to gain elevation on a flat-topped hill (that wasn’t big enough to be called a mesa) and staggered away from the other riders like a great butterfly net, trying to scoop up one last coyote before going home.

Two hunt riders on horses riding on snowy desert
Adren Nance hunting the hounds with his son Jim for Juan Tomas / photo credit Gretchen Pelham

Up top, Adren with his young son Jim, riding in his back pocket, were with the pack when they hit the third coyote. I was able to watch the coyote race across the hill to dive off the cliff and watch the pack and Adren follow suit. I stayed up on the hill and got a great view of the hunt disappearing on the horizon. That coyote was so fast that the pack could not keep up, so Adren called it a day. We went 15 miles that day, stayed up with the pack for most of the day, and I just couldn’t be happier.

Woman in hunt attire with big smile, standing next to horse
Gretchen Pelham after a day out with Juan Tomas / photo credit Adren Nance

Now off to overnight in Texas to end up at the Belle Meade Hunt Week in Thomson, Georgia.