Sunday, December 2, 2018

Hunt Pack at Penn National

Once a year I get to see Penn National, and this time I chose Hunt Night.  The hound pack demo was so interesting!  It wasn't just dogs; I saw some unusual bridles.  Out of all the classes on Hunt Night (October 12), this post will cover just one demonstration!  Fellow blogger Jennifer Buxton has recently posted about an unusual bridle, so I thought I'd trot out a few that I had simply never seen before.

My very generous friend Didi Hornberger made it possible for me to visit Penn National Horse Show this past October.  When I saw there was going to be a pack of foxhounds right in the arena, I took my camera.  The first shot shows how hard a time I had focusing.  (Warning:  some out-of-focus shots coming!)  It also shows one of the strangest hunting get-ups I've ever witnessed.
Strange... but not unknown.  I've read about such.  This old lady, I thought, simply didn't want bits OR hackamores, and had found a way to control her horse that was neither.  I think it's a jaw strap; it fastens around the lower jaw.  Why not, if it works?

When the dogs poured into the arena it wasn't quite bedlam.
Four riders, uncounted hounds and one man afoot provided reasonable control of the situation.  Still I was riveted.  I'm going to try to include a video later -- it's the only way you'll hear the bells as well as the dogs.  The head huntsman's horse wore sleighbells as a signal to the pack.

The pack took several tours of the arena, coursing around the outside of the jumps.  Quite exciting and I didn't focus all too well, but maybe that just proves the fun!

For a few moments, the yelping and the halloo-ing took you to the fields and woods.  It seemed the most natural thing in the world:  dogs and horses together.
Here at last my focus behaved, and I caught a good shot.
Bringing the hounds back to the exit gate.
When the riders were standing around at the exit, which was to my right, I really saw the bridles.  Every horse who wore a bit had the largest snaffle rings I've ever seen in my life.
Even the sidesaddle rider has them!  We are talking 10+ inches here.  
 That's a big cookie!  That's ... tortilla size!  That's... Pizza size!
I was so surprised.  To find such things in company with the jaw strap was a true astonishment.

Finally I got the bitless rider in focus.  This is the only shot worth a close-up.  I'm hoping those ears aren't really annoyed, just in motion.
For the second time ever (the first was Rinker) I'll try and post a movie.  It's 14.2MB.  The horses and dogs trot happily around the arena.  I can't preview this so can only hope it works...!
I hope you enjoyed this glimpse of Penn National's Hunt Night.


  1. The movie works! I have done a little searching online for those large ring snaffles but not found anything yet. I have never seen anything like them.

  2. Thank you for including the video - it's complete pandemonium - how fun! Interesting to see the large snaffles and jaw strap as well - can't say I've ever seen them before.