We’re galloping towards the end of a particularly wet, muddy hunting season. H&H’s hunting editor summarises what we’ve learnt…
1. It’s nice and soft when you fall off. You don’t bounce; it’s like falling on to a mattress. Sort of.
2. Horses do get used to jumping out of mud — you might need to use your legs a bit more, but it’s been so wet that it hasn’t been sticky mud and they’ve coped well.
3. Hosing it down is an acceptable way to clean your tack when it’s properly filthy after a day’s hunting this season – just bung on loads of soap/tack conditioner afterwards and do so again when it is dry.
4. You will never tease anyone who hunts in a riding mackintosh again. Anyone with the sense to keep themselves dry this winter has been the subject of many jealous looks.
5. There are a million ways to prevent and treat mud fever and everyone has their favourite, which they insist is the only one possible. Covering horses’ legs and stomachs in something like pig oil has its drawbacks, however – you cover yourself in it too.
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6. Cleaning a really muddy hunting coat is actually the worst job in the world. Do you scrub it down immediately and leave to dry, or do you dry it first, scratch the worst lumps off with your fingernails and then brush the rest until your arm aches? Clay soil is the absolute worst and might reduce you to tears.
7. But cleaning muddy horses is strangely satisfying – and wet, sloppy mud comes off easily. Turning a brown horse back into a grey one and seeing them clean, dry and warm and tucking into their haynets after a good day’s hunting is lovely.
8. Anyone who bought a grey horse in the autumn has bitterly regretted it all winter, however. It’s much easier when they come in a shade of brown.
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