with Horse and Hound

How We Match the Foxhunter to the Hireling

coopers hillMidnight, a 16-hh black Irish cob at Coopers Hill is everyone's favorite, young and old.

How do I match riders I have never met with horses that will take care of them out hunting? The answer to that question starts with how the animal was gentled into riding and jumping to begin with. That’s the key.

It takes a number of years to get a horse hunting right. Anyone who hunts knows that you can get pullers, stoppers, and downright cranky horses. And then there are the ones that kick, bite, and buck. An odd buck of joy is fine, but the buck that is directed toward the rider’s dismount is coming from a horse that wasn’t respected and won’t give respect.

Down through the years the locals have brought very difficult animals to our yard for breaking. But we like to turn that word—breaking—on its head. We prefer to say we gentle and respect the animal and allow them the time to come to the conclusion that it is okay to accept the bit, okay to be brushed, okay to have their feet lifted up, to be saddled and eventually mounted. Some animals accept sooner than others simply because some trust sooner than others. The manner in which this is done determines the product—the horse—you are going to mount for your day’s hunting.

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