Amanda Ronan lets us tag along for a day of champagne toasts and galloping cross-country in the company of friends during Longacre Hunt’s Opening Meet near Dobbin, Texas.
Last Saturday, November 3rd, I participated in the Longacre Hunt’s Opening Hunt at Nipperwood Farm located near Dobbin, Texas.
After mounting up, the riders shared the traditional Ruth O’Hara champagne toast. Ruth O’Hara founded the Longacre Hunt in 1992. After a long battle with cancer Ms. O’Hara passed away in 1999. Ruth rode with the hunt every year until her death.
Following the toast was a blessing by Father Victor Vead. The “Invocation of the Hunt” is a prayer to find joy in our animals and to always treat them with mercy and compassion. It also thanks the landowners, asks for protection for all bodies and souls involved, and prays for true sportsmanship on the hunt.
After a quick discussion of safety, the field was split into two groups. First field moves at a quick gallop and is expected to jump. Second field moves at a trot and canter and has the option of jumping or going around the obstacles. I chose to ride in the second field, a decision based on the fact that I was riding a 20-year-old Quarter Horse who for most of his life rode Western events only.
The hounds were released from their trailer, the bugle sounded and we were off!
The first part of the ride was in heavily wooded areas; with what my mount decided was “horse-eating” mud. The footing was good, comprised mostly of sand, but I still decided to remain at a trot with some walking. The most difficult part was a steeply banked creek crossing that was about two strides wide.
Soon the terrain opened up and I was able to give my very eager horse (maybe I should have gone first field?) some rein and we let loose! We jumped a few of the more natural obstacles including fallen trees, but steered clear of the rather large coops. There were also several fun hill gallops!
The first field had an even more exciting ride, including a wild romp after the hounds chasing a large buck! I later learned that the hounds “weren’t supposed to do that” in regards to chasing game three or four times their size! The Longacre Hunt does participate in live hunts for both fox and coyote, but the quarry is never killed.
Halfway through the ride we were given a chance to snack on cheese, crackers, and wine. We also thankfully were given the choice to take off our jackets…85 degrees in November is hot even for Texans. Afterwards we chose to move at a slower pace, cantering a bit but mostly leisurely trotting and walking to allow our horses to cool down on the way home.
The ride was followed by a fantastic meal hosted by landowner Carol Schmitz. Turkey, ham, stuffing, green beans, fresh rolls, brownies, cookies… YUM!
This is my third year to ride with the Longacre Hunt, and although my participation is sporadic due to my distance from the club (about 2 ½ hours of driving), it has quickly become one of my favorite equestrian events. Friendlier, kinder people could not be found. I look forward to being on the hunt again!