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Answers to Your Tough Equine Questions Straight From the Horses Mouth!

Dear Nellie,

I am a field hunter, and am currently being prepared for the upcoming fox chasing season.

I am very lucky that I have an owner that takes great care of me. I am well shod, have preventive and proactive Veterinary care, and have a wonderful environment with great turn out, housing, and proper diet.

I already have many seasons under my belt, and I know and love this sport as does my owner. I was not let down this summer, but kept in light work so that I am in better shape to start legging up now, and get hunting fit. I have been doing regular conditioning work, trot sets, hill work and some cross country prep so that I am ready to enjoy the sport we both love so much.

Unfortunately, my owner does not seem to realize that he needs to be hunting fit as well. I am exercised, and schooled by some wonderful riders, but my owner has not yet set a foot in the irons. I know he is busy, but I worry about his ability to handle the physical excursion and stress of the hunting day. It can be dangerous for both of us, if he is not conditioned and fit for the challenge.

We had a few scary moments last season, when the runs were fast and furious. I felt my partner getting tired. Not only could he not help me if we got into a jam, but he was starting to interfere with my ability to do my job safely because of his fatigue.

I do not want either one of us to be at risk due to us not being prepared for our sport. Do you have any ideas, as to how I can attempt to motivate my hunting partner to get himself into shape, so it is a safe and enjoyable season for us both?

Still Standing

Whoa Nellie!

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Dear Still Standing,

I wish I could say that this concern is rare for us field sport types. Many of us have had this experience, where our humans want us to be able to carry them safely, but forget that they still have to be able to ride.

As any of us age, we have to understand that we have to adapt to our changing physical capabilities. One of the things we cannot afford to do is to not maintain a fitness level for the task at hand. Whatever that task may be.

Often our human partners rationalize, that since we are carrying them, that they do not have to condition themselves. This thinking can, and often does, prove dangerous. It also contributes to our human partners losing their nerve to enjoy this sport. With exhaustion, comes limited or compromised abilities. Our riders get frightened, and do not realize where the fear is coming from.

I am sure that if your owner is a serious enthusiast, that he will have access to the latest issue of "Covertside." This publication is published by the Masters of Foxhounds Assoc. of America, and it is the magazine of mounted foxhunting.

It has a great article entitled "Fit to Ride" that is the perfect answer to your very real concern. I am sure that there should be a copy coming in the mail. If not, attempt to lay your hooves on a copy and leave it where your owner is sure to find it.

I wish you good footing and a fit partner for your coming season.


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