Hunting For The First Time & Horses Age

Joined
3 June 2020
Messages
1
Hi guys

My horse is 2 months away from turning 4, he is an unraced TB. Super level headed and relaxed, hunt season where I am (South Africa) is being delayed due to Covid etc, so when it starts my boy will be 4 years old.

I actually live on a hunt masters property, we hack a lot through the vineyards etc, have popped over a couple logs (actually just started), gone through puddles, my horse is un-phased, having my dog run around him on rides is also a non issue for him. He is probably the most calm baby TB I have ever met.

So while I think his mind is mature enough, and he will have an experienced hunt horse friend with him, I am just worried about him physically at his young age - is he too young? Should I do half the hunt to start? (I have permission to pull out half way if needed).

Also any tips would be amazing! TIA x

hunt.jpg
 

Shay

Well-Known Member
Joined
17 August 2008
Messages
7,201
Its really difficult for folk on a UK based forum to comment on an SA hunt. In the UK the first 2 - 4 months of our season is designed to introduce the new hounds and to slowly raise fitness in the horses. So hunts (I should say fox hunts - drag, stag and blood are also different) are slower and spend a lot more time standing around which is really great for introducing a new horse. Once our season opens formally (about late october) things become a little more active. I should also say at this point that hunting mammals with hounds is illegal here- the different types of hunt refer to different ways to lay an artificial trail. Googling Hunting in SA I can only turn up details on the Rand Pack which hunts as a drag hunt does here - but I know from having lived there as a child there is also foxhunting (no foxes) in the cape. I just can't recall the names!

In general terms.. horses get very excited following hounds and running as a group. Don't over stress his fitness. He'll be as calm as a bunny first, and possibly even second time out. Then he'll start to anticipate and become quite difficult for the next few. Just ride through it. Most horses settle in time.

Many in the UK will feel 4 is too young to hunt full out. Although in Ireland it is quite common to hunt a full season as a 4 year old. I think that is really just a cultural expectation but it is true that horses that hunt hard at 4 (and several of mine have) may have a shorter working life, looking to retire in thier late teens. But I also know from having ridden in SA that horses are not expected to live or work as long as they seem to here. His mind isn't as much of an issue as his body. If you overstress his tissues young you might shorten his ridden life. But that might not be beyond SA normal expectations anyway.

Work with his fitness - and remember that running with a herd his adrenaline will be up and he might go beyond his strength. He needs you to watch out for him. If you are hunting full out from the first I would only hunt half a day - we used to call it going home at second horses. But if you have something closer to our autumn hunting then you should be fine to stay out. The folk who know are the hunt secretaries - and your MFH if you live on his land!

And don't be surprised if he is a total idiot 2nd or 3rd time out. He knows it is the best fun in the world and he is anticipating. It is true that not all horses setlte, but most do. The trick is to get them out as often as possible so they learn to conserve thier energy themselves.

I'd love to know where you are. I thought maybe that was the drakkensburg behind you. But I can see gum trees too which is more north. I grew up well north of Pretoria. (Nelspruit to be precise) Never hunted in SA though - I didn't discover that until I got sent to the UK aged 7. But I did a fair amount of riding in the Wildeness Area of the cape as a teen. My daughter's first canter was on a ranch outside Oudtshoorn - I told them she wasn't off the lead rein yet. She loved it!
 

Jellymoon

Well-Known Member
Joined
17 August 2008
Messages
279
Gosh, you lucky thing living out there, beautiful county, and how amazing to be able to ride in that terrain. Lovely horse too.
I think you can take him, as long as you look after him and don’t stay out too long hammering about.
One thing i‘ve noticed with young ones is that sometimes the longer you stay out, the stronger and sillier they can get, so they make you think they are still full of running but they are actually over-cooked.
I think 2/2.5hrs is plenty the first time for a young horse, and then build up from there.
 

Lana.H05

Active Member
Joined
28 June 2020
Messages
37
Hi guys

My horse is 2 months away from turning 4, he is an unraced TB. Super level headed and relaxed, hunt season where I am (South Africa) is being delayed due to Covid etc, so when it starts my boy will be 4 years old.

I actually live on a hunt masters property, we hack a lot through the vineyards etc, have popped over a couple logs (actually just started), gone through puddles, my horse is un-phased, having my dog run around him on rides is also a non issue for him. He is probably the most calm baby TB I have ever met.

So while I think his mind is mature enough, and he will have an experienced hunt horse friend with him, I am just worried about him physically at his young age - is he too young? Should I do half the hunt to start? (I have permission to pull out half way if needed).

Also any tips would be amazing! TIA x

View attachment 48950
Maybe just start with half. And if there is a slower hunt maybe opt for that to keep it calm. X
 
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