I have to say that I have been horseback most of my life but getting the opportunity to go on the Burton Hunt was one of the funnest and wildest times I have ever had on the back of a horse. First off, I would like to say how much I was impressed with the hospitality everyone gave me while there. The hunt is similar to the cowboy culture in that it is not just a horse community, but a lifestyle that requires etiquette, commitment, history, and a love of horses. I really enjoyed being lent the full get-up of the authentic gear, all the way from the boots to the helmet. It was neat in the days prior getting to see the kennels and learning about the history as well.
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Everyone has this image of cowboys being a little bit wild and crazy. This is true; however, I think any cowboy in America would be in shock after riding with guys like Tony Morris all day. These guys were putting me to shame. I could not believe at ten o’clock in the morning I was handed a half warm glass of scotch before getting on my horse! I thought it was really neat how everyone congregated in the morning before the hunt. When I mounted the horse, not just one but three throughout my time there, that the Robinson’s had rented for me, I again felt the amazing hospitality. The power and stamina of the horses was unbelievable. I can’t imagine what the horses I rode were worth. But, I am guessing a lot more than even the more expensive roping horses (rodeo quarter horses) that I ride. I was also impressed that every horse was clipped up with concave shoes.
I have worked on a few of the biggest and most famous ranches in the U.S. and spent many hours in the saddle. Yet, I think the most miles I have ever covered horseback in one day was in England. I can’t imagine seeing the countryside any better than horseback on the hunt. Some of the old farms and houses seemed almost unreal.
I was tickled to death when I was asked if I wanted to ride up in front behind the huntsman. Even though I was probably bugging Neal, he still managed to answer a lot of my questions. Tony really took me under his wing and explained everything about what was going on, then would pass the scotch, then tell me to keep up! It was truly something. I had no idea the organization it took to manage the whips and all the hounds. It was amazing to get to ride up in the front when the hounds would line out and to be galloping alongside them. I had never jumped anything on a horse before besides maybe a cactus or a log while trying to rope something. I will never forget the first fence we jumped. I can’t believe I stayed on my horse! After that, I couldn’t wait to jump another one. It was such a rush! I managed not to hit the ground at all, suprisingly. I had a few people that first day tell me not to lean back so far and ask me how in the world I stayed on my horse with a loose rein in one hand… I tried to watch everyone around me and do my best to do what they were all doing, for in cowboy culture we expect the same. I thought it was pretty wild that the hunt lasted until dark. I remember the last day headed back for tea and riding through a little town with all the hounds in the street while people stood out on their porches waving as we rode by. You couldn’t hear anything except for the shoes of all the horses clopping along at a trot. By the end of the day my hamstrings were done. Having my stirrups up that high for that long got me used to it real quick I guess. I also thought it was neat how after the hunt everyone went for tea and snacks, however I was so worn out that I was passed out in the car afterwards. I remember George telling me to hurry up and shower so we could go have dinner at the pub and drink some beer. I remember looking at him and saying, “Are you kidding me? I thought that we had dinner. I have been drinking on my horse all day, and now we are gonna go drink more?!?!” I think I got the best sleep of my life while in England!
One of my other greatest times while visiting, was the day after the hunt. Sara and a few others were going to a show and I tagged along to watch. We hadn’t been there five minutes when she asked me if I wanted to enter as well?!? I thought, “sure!” Again, letting me borrow a nice horse like that when I probably untrained it a little bit was very generous. I ended up winning a few ribbons and her husband gave me a Burton Hunt Tie. It was a blast!
And just to sum things up on my experience, my perception of English horsemen and women is just too wild. When we returned after the show they asked me if I wanted to go for a ride around the property… at night… I’ll never forget having those horses running full speed through the night. It was something else! I doubt I could have experienced
England any better way. In my life, I have worked on huge ranches, packed up in mountains, roped wild, unbranded cattle and rode bucking horses in college and professional levels in rodeos, but I can say that my experience with the Burton was one of the neatest I have ever had with horses! I appreciate y’all having me.
Thanks to everyone who showed me a good time and especially George and the Robinson family for helping me get there! They are the best!