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The View From Down Here


Editor’s Note: Continuing our precedent of guest columnists (last month’s was Gabrielle the barn manager cat), this month we hear from a hunt pony with an attitude, who writes a regular blog (with help from his human) for e-Covertside.

By Ziggy Pelham

I guess it’s polite to do introductions first. My name is Ziggy, and I am a Hunt Horse for the Tennessee Valley Hunt (TVH) in East Tennessee.  I write a blog in the MFHA’s E-Covertside called “The View From Down Here” that Joint Master Gretchen Pelham often takes credit for, that Woman.[Gretchen’s note:  “Watch it, buddy.”]

Officially I am a 12.1½ hand Pony of the Americas. Now don’t roll your eyes and say anything like 12 hands can’t be a horse, much less a Hunt Horse.  If you think such rubbish, then you need to get to the back of the Field with an orange ribbon in your tail to signify “I’m stupid.”  For the past several seasons I have hunted with TVH in First Flight and Hilltoppers.  I have been the Huntsman’s Horse and led the Field. I have jumped coops that were over 3 feet, kept up on some scorching runs, and even jumped everything at the 2006 Centennial Field Hunter Championships in Kentucky!  So there!  [Gretchen’s note:  “Easy, little dude.”]

There is a malicious rumor going around that I am NOT a fabulously talented, charming, and amazing Hunt Horse. I would like to say the following for the record:

1. Ziggy is NOT a hound.   [Gretchen’s Note:  Well, to be fair, you do only have a few inches on the pack.]
2. Ziggy is NOT a speed bump.   [Gretchen’s Note:  It was not nice of Erin’s elephant warmblood to ram into you like that, but you did manage to slow him down for Erin.  Turns out, tripping over ponies IS a good way to slow down big elephants!]
3. Ziggy is NOT a warm up jump.   [Gretchen’s Note:  I know that Master at Woodford Hounds asked if he could warm his horse up over your rump before the first stone wall, but he was only half serious.]
4. Ziggy is NOT a mounting block.   [Gretchen’s Note:  My saddle is even with other rider’s stirrups, so … it could work.]
5. Ziggy is NOT a chin rest for the foxhounds!   [Gretchen’s Note:  That crossbred bitch was VERY wrong to do that to you.]

Just because I am only a 12.1 ½ hand pony does not mean that everyone can treat me this way!  Drat – where are my flash cards that say, “My Name is NOT Napoleon”?  I need to meditate, or sneak into Gretchen’s flask.
A recent weekend hunt for the Tennessee Valley Hunt was just another regular foxhunt for everyone else, but for the Best Hunt Horse to Ever Carry a Rider it was a milestone!  [Gretchen’s Note:  Oh, for Pete’s sake.  Can you please dial down your ego so it will fit inside the barn?]  Put a sock in it, Woman.  I’m proud of myself, and you won’t discourage me!

On this particular weekend, I was a hireling for an 8-year-old girl named McKenzie, who had never hunted before, never ridden me before, and, I suspect, had never been outside of a ring either. I’ve been hunted by several Juniors, but they always have taken lessons on me first.  I want to be sure they know certain things before I take them out hunting, and I don’t trust “That Woman” to teach them.  [Gretchen’s Note:  I warn every kid who gets on you that you will whine and throw a temper tantrum like a toddler if they so much as twitch the reins.  I have never let just any random kid hunt you before, so you wouldn’t scare them silly when you start in your complaining about, “My reins!  My mouth!  My nose!  It burns!  It pulls! Oh, I’m gonna die!!!!”  But you’ve mellowed in the last two years, so it was time to try you out as a hireling.]

Woman, I have never carried on so.  I’m going to ignore you now.

McKenzie came over to my trailer when she and her parents arrived.  Gretchen had her start brushing my tail out while her parents got their own horses ready to hunt.  We put her saddle on, and I must say it is a lot nicer than the one the Wench puts on my back.  When it came time to mount up, I was perfect!  I even showed her how easily I could back up!  [Gretchen Note:  You were starting to panic that she would hold the reins too tight.  You started your silly Sméagol “It burns!”ranting.  I told her to put her hands forward to stop your silliness.]

Once the hunt got started I stayed right behind Gretchen. McKenzie’s parents were behind us. Right off the bat we had to go down a slight incline.  She was scared that it was a cliff!  I told her that I’ve got this, just relax. It only took a few hills before she was asking to go down more of them! 

Trotting was also scary for her at first, but by the end of the hunt she was begging for more trotting on the Zigster. I am so awesome, I must say! I even snuck in a bit of cantering when Gretchen wasn’t looking. <big smile> 

As far as the hunt goes, it was a wild and crazy time for the pack. They hit on a red fox in the woods, and then chased it down through the soybean fields towards the lake.  Gretchen was leading Hilltoppers, and she led us into the maze of fields so we could try to see something.  We waited there on top of a rise for a while, but the hounds had moved to the gas pipeline.  Through the trees we could hear the pack circling and circling.  When it became apparent that the game was not going to come back to the fields, off we went to the pipeline.  We were trying to get a view on the pipeline, but again the pack was circling and circling in the woods.  It was hard to tell which way the pack was going, as their voices were echoing off the ridgeline in circles. 

After waiting some more on the pipeline, Gretchen put us into search mode, and we followed the pack towards the lake.  We went to the end of the pipeline, into some more soybean fields, and then back up a trail to the gravel road that runs parallel to the pipeline.  We followed the voices of the pack, and finally found First Flight with our professional huntsman, Andy Bozdan, gathering up the pack.  He hunted the pack towards the trailers, where they hit again - on maybe the same red fox in the Bermuda Triangle.  We listened to the pack, and Gretchen tried to get us a view on the pipeline, but she was too late. Figures, she would muck it up.  [Gretchen’s Note:  Will you lay off me?   I brought you mint tea and oat berry scones in the pouring rain yesterday.  And McKenzie had such a crush on you that she kept stealing the blueberry muffins and party mints from the Hunt Breakfast to feed you.  She never noticed that she didn’t get a view.]

I did enjoy that Hunt Breakfast.  The Woman never brings me back enough food from the table.  She scarfs it all herself.  No wonder her butt is getting wider than my back!  [Gretchen’s Note:  I will adjust your pony tail crupper to the tightest it will go next time!]

And if you do I will kick you in your ever-widening butt! [Gretchen’s Note:  Can your legs reach that high up, my little fuzzy cockapoo?]

So now I have been the Huntsman’s Horse, First Flight Field Master’s Horse, Hilltopper Field Master’s Horse, a Junior’s Horse and a Hireling.  I’m telling you, the only thing left for me to accomplish is to be Indiana Jones’ Horse. Nothing else comes close!
Respectfully submitted,
Ziggy Pelham,
The Best Hunt Horse to Ever Carry a Rider (no matter how small!)

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