After breakfast, I went out riding with Michael so he could show me over the courses the hunt was likely to take. My horse was from the Foxbridge stables, sent ahead of me along with my luggage; but it wasn't Pippin, who was too delicate of limb for the rough-and-tumble of a fox hunt--he could leap a fence or brook with the best of them, but if he fell or another horse banged into him he'd be done for. Instead I had a big dappled gray Irish hunter called Samson (Delilah's brother rather than her mate, which makes me wonder what goes on in the stablemen's heads when they name these animals); and since the horse was as unfamiliar as the terrain, I was going to need a lot of practice before the big hunt on Saturday.
We spent hours trotting and galloping around, it was the longest ride I'd been on in ages (since I last hunted, in fact, the previous winter), but it was worth it to see so much of the park. At the end, he showed me one of his favourite spots, a spring-fed pond surrounded by massive weeping willows overhanging the water and screening it from passersby; it was freezing, of course, but we warmed each other up afterward, then rode back to the house.
We'd been out so long we missed luncheon, but Pond had already procured a tray of sandwiches, cheese, and fruit for me, so I had a lovely solitary picnic in the bathtub before I got dressed.
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