Fox Hunting Life with Horse and Hound

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The Road Warriors: Day Six

 

Betsy_Photo_2Gave Greg a lesson on Kit this morning. She was up because we shipped her a few miles to the Santa Ynez Equestrian Center, a club-based training farm where the Steele’s have a membership. But Greg rode well and took my instruction to soften his back (think your seat when breaking a young horse or riding a tough one), forget his lower legs (think about riding a forward-moving Thoroughbred, which Kit is), and to become acquainted with his outside hand (think of a firm handshake.) She went from tense and quick to soft and supple. I assured Greg that he can ride this mare, and she can be everything he wants in the hunt field and more, but he’s got to ride her sympathetically.  

The Road Warriors: Day Five

Day_5_Earring
"I want it to jangle."

This morning I daydreamed of my beautiful Virginia home, while I hurried breakfast and went out to ride Kit. I craved having a barn/stable/stall/crosstie to use for grooming and tacking. (Greg’s setup does not include a barn or shed; they use their horse trailer for storage as well as transportation.) I thought of the great footing on my Aiken line down by the Jordan River, while I tried to navigate between rabbit holes and ground squirrel holes in the corner of the field where I tried to work. I had a yen for some soft green clover as I stalked across the pasture through a healthy crop of tall tough native weeds to turn the mare back out (beside her nemesis Heidi, who, by the way, is realizing that having Kit as her one-and-only-friend may be better than having no-friends-at-all.) As I trotted along the cinder path in Greg’s development, I thought longingly of living in my Rappahannock 'hood with dozens of horsey neighbors to ride with on any of hundreds of miles of trails every day of the week.

I went so far as to yearn for Washington DC traffic later as I negotiated the 101 highway from Santa Barbara. With apologies to Yeats, this six-lane behemoth, slouching towards Los Angeles to be born is a rough beast. It wasn’t so much with introspection as longing that I pined for crew cuts and swingy bobs from back east, in lieu of the dreds and rasta hats that prevail here from downtown Burbank to the beach boardwalk.

The Road Warriors: Day Four

Day_4_Solvang
There are "tonnes of olde towne" aspects to Solvang (much like Middleburg or Clifton), including this pair of Belgians pulling an old-fashioned bus.

There was no dawn today. I woke up with the first tinges of gray to the night sky (4:20 a.m., just like at home), but there was no sun to herald night turning to day. Beth and I figured, separately, that it was going to be a dreary, cool and cloudy day. Greg said something about the marine layer and how it burns off at 10 a.m, on the dot. I ignored him and pulled on a fleece sweatshirt I’d borrowed.

Sure enough, though, by 10 a.m. the sun was blazing, and the weather had turned to that famously California weather: clear, cool-yet-warm, dry (no humidity at all), and light breezes. The trees/flowers/shrubs here are used to persistent drought, so you don’t get the feeling that plants are thirsty as much as you get a feeling that they’re tough.

The Road Warriors: Day Three

Day_3_Kit_and_Ali_at_Greg_Steeles
Ali and Kit (with Betsy) pose in front of Greg Steele's house upon arrival in sunny California.

We had a fun afternoon Wednesday at Alison and Bruce's in Colorado. We took Alison to late lunch at the toney Wisdom Tea House in Monument. She brought us up to date on the Fort Carson Hounds (they're getting some more hounds from the Arapahoe Hunt and are probably going for registered status or farmer pack status with the MFHA) and with her Wuff-It invention (a GPS dog collar that has applications in the hunt field with a virtual fence that can see which hounds are on riot and which ones are out of place when working and running), which is selling well.

 We loaded up Wednesday afternoon and got away by 5:30 p.m. (4:30 PCT). We took the I-25 to I-470 (loop road south of Denver) to the I-70 westbound. We could see storm clouds rolling in from the west, but I pressed on, with no idea how it would affect the trip, the mood, and the muses.