• Karen Custer Thurston

Mare On Fire

"The Woman On Fire" Finally Finds Her Match In A Fellow Alpha Horse: An Arabian Mare With A Spitfire Spirit To Match Her Own


Let us be assured that this horse is all mare. She bullies geldings. She bullies her human partner. She walks with an attitude. She knows who she is. Her hooves strike the ground with force and certainty.


Let us also be very clear that her human partner is a woman with strong opinions, this being her first mare for hunting after a string of lovely, obedient geldings. Well, OK, some of them bucked a bit. One fractured her fibula but, other than that, the boys were fun to hunt. This mare, the woman found, had a mind of her own from the beginning.


Know that this mare and this woman have partnered for seventeen years in the hunt field.


In the beginning, the duo rode in the hip pocket of Peter Wilson, Huntsman. The mare liked that view. The woman also liked their IMAX view. They could see and hear the hounds up so close she could see the variations and colors of fur. They both lived for the screaming of hounds in full cry and the magic of the staff and hounds pounding after the quarry into the endless horizon. Time stopped for them on hunt days. The weather didn’t matter to them on hunt days. The world was forgotten on hunt days.


Season after season the woman and mare followed Mr. Wilson up tall

cinder cones and down the endless cinder hills. They raced across shattered limestone, lava shrapnel and crumbled sandstone. Where Mr. Wilson and the hounds went, the pair happily followed. Tears streaming from the wind, the woman bent over the mare’s neck to decrease wind resistance. A young lady with the field dubbed them "The Blur."


On rare days when the staff and hounds left them behind, the woman had to guess where Mr. Wilson would descend a huge cinder hill. The mare grew agitated when Mr. Wilson was out of view. The mare had imprinted on the huntsman from those early years, no matter which color horse he rode.


The woman learned how adamant the mare was about proximity to Mr. Wilson. The mare learned to pull the woman out of the saddle in a *Kimberwick if the mare thought herself too far from the Huntsman. Same with a rubber *Pelham. The woman grew weary losing the tug of war and felt victorious when an uneasy truce was forged with a hackamore.


The years drifted by. Guests visited and left, talking about the “big country” hunted by this staff and hounds. The generosity and passion of the Grand Canyon Hounds Master stayed as solid as the volcanic lava fields through these years of Grand Canyon Hounds. Whipper Ins, horses and hounds changed but the land did not. The land had been here for two million years. With or without hunting, the land, the hard ground, the lava fields will be for two million more.


The woman now holds back the mare in the hunt field. The mare hates that. Seventeen years having passed. The woman strives to keep the mare flexible and fit. Seventeen years spent with this hunt motivates the woman to also stay flexible and fit. Her fibula is happily healed and wishes to stay that way.


The woman and mare will treasure every minute from here on with the Grand Canyon Hunt.


Honoring “Sophisticated Lady”, registered Polish Arabian Mare, 22 years young.





*If you'd like to read more stories about my adventures with horses, feel free to check out "Not So 'Sunny' Times On Sunni The Arabian Horse"



If you enjoyed this piece, please feel free to "love" it and comment below. Many thanks!



Copyright 2022 Karen Custer Thurston



Glossary Of Horseback Riding Terms Used In Story:


Mare: Female horse

Gelding: Stallion that is gelded/neutered


Hounds: Specially cross-bred hounds for hunting quarry


Huntsman: Professional staff person who trains and hunts the hounds

Whipper-In: Professional staff person who helps the Huntsman to manage the hounds during a hunt

Master: The person who funds the hounds, staff and staff hounds. The person who invites people to join


Field: The term for the hunt member who follow the hounds. It is bad form for a field member to interfere in any way with the hunt hounds, the huntsman or the whippers-in.


Kimberwick: Type of bit for a bridle


Pelham: Type of bit for a bridle


Hackamore: Head gear for a horse that does not use a bit



Photo Credit #1: Meghan Moran Wilson

Photo Credit #2: Rick Langley


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