This past weekend Blair Snively and her horse Blaze, members of the Bedford County Hunt, competed at the MFHA Field Hunter Championship Qualifier hosted by Deep Run Hunt at the Pine Crest Farm in Manakin-Sabot, Virginia. Not to highlight only the competitive winners (like there were just two riders the whole day) but let us feature the rest of the riders who just want to show up and have fun on the horses that they love. Despite the long day. Despite new, now-forbidden equine romances. Despite our horses deciding, “I’m out!” Blair’s recount of the day is a great representation of why we love to compete in these Field Hunter competitions.
My horse Blaze was a veritable rockstar at the qualifiers during the appointments class, the flat class, and the rigorous mock hunt. I smiled the ENTIRE time because it was truly a joy to ride him.
We were selected among the top eight for the individual round, out of over twenty riders in our division against the likes of riders and horses from Keswick, Deep Run, Farmington, and Bull Run.
My horse was tacked from 9:45 am until 4:30 pm. Blaze had met a girl earlier that morning. He was tired. When asked to go away from the spectators and compete in our individual test, he reminded me why we aren’t staff. Blaze is a field hunter through and through. He wants to be with the group, he doesn’t see the point in galivanting off to lark on our own.
To say that I am not colossally disappointed would be a lie, but Blaze was so tired and just done. I tried to ride through it with patience and told him how much I love him as I held back tears.
This is the hard part of riding. Sometimes we are set up for winning, and then, it just doesn’t happen. I wish everyone could have seen what Blaze can do. But I am also so proud of Blaze. Best of all, I am super stoked that my teammate Kallie Hainline and her mare Dee (whom Blaze is not allowed to see anymore) won second place and are representing Bedford County Hunt at Nationals!
It was an honor to ride with so many amazing people this weekend. I made many new friends, saw a new country, and was hosted by a gracious hunt with beautiful grounds.
We had fun and were safe, which are the only requirements that I ever ask of my horses. These are the lessons that I am trying to instill in my young son in his first hunt season. They are hard, humbling lessons in grace.
Originally published on November 7, 2022.