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Hog Hunting by Horseback, part III

Published: 7/5/2012
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Editor's Note: This three-part series by Dr. Rebecca Gimenez was transcribed by friend Pat Gillespie. Many thanks to Rebecca and Pat for your contributions!
Dr. Gimenez is president of TLAER.

CLICK for Part I
Click for Part II

By Dr. Rebecca Gimenez

The cypress swamp had mature trees, six to eight feet in girth, with cypress knees of various sizes – some taller than my head.  The first horse through it had good footing in three feet of water. By horse number seven, though, it was much like swimming through mud stew. I wondered what would happen if I fell off onto one of those cypress spears – I would have been harpooned!

We slid down a forty-foot trail section with probably a 70-degree slope. No one’s horse tripped or fell; they all just did their job sliding to the bottom on their butts.
We rarely stopped to rest (except to listen to the baying of the dogs).  The dogs worked the ground looking for hogs; we watched them on the GPS unit and listened for them to bark if they found a hog. 
[Photo at right, David Grant monitors dogs on GPS unit after the ride.]
I saw two cottonmouth water moccasins as big as my arm. They silently slid into cover and we left them alone.
This kind of riding was probably the norm when our nation was being settled. In fact, as we rode through the mature forests of over 80-foot-tall oaks, hickory and cypress, we remarked that this must have been how Louis and Clarke saw our country:

Mature forest stands, swamps and streams and beaver dams with minimal HUMAN engineering of the landscape, no roads. You rode are hard as necessary to survive. You hunted to eat. Your dogs worked as your partner. Your livestock and horses were not coddled nor were they considered pets: you fed them, they did their job, you keep them in good shape. You loved them in a different way that was more fundamental – they kept you alive.

I am thrilled I got to experience this with the right people, mounted on an appropriate horse for the job.  David was surprised I’d driven five hours to join them for the ride, since many local people he invites don’t take him up his offer. After experiencing it, I can see why!
Would I ride with them again?
Hell, yes!
Would I consider bringing my own horses to a hog hunt?
Hell, no!
They may have been able to keep up, but by ride’s end, these little Marsh Tacky horses had not taken a wrong step, balked at an obstacle or breathed hard all day. My horses are not in shape for these conditions. They might have done it, but they are too big to work under the very tight brush, and they would not have been comfortable with the conditions of the “trail.”

Any time you get bored with what you are doing with your horses, consider going on a feral hog hunt.  But call me first. I want to go, too!

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7/5/2012 Marsha
Sounds like a blast! I'd love to go, but my horse sure wouldn't enjoy it. David's horses are real, using horses, honest and tough. Thanks for sharing a great story.
7/14/2012 Rebecca
It WAS an amazing experience - and I am SO GLAD that I was invited to go and that these little horses had so much UMPH to be able to show me that there is something beyond "trail riding" - just like when I was a kid. I thought I had outgrown it - apparently NOT!

   
"Practice sharpens, but overschooling blunts the edge. If your horse isn't doing right, the first place to look is yourself" - Joe Heim