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Hog Hunting by Horseback, Part One

Published: 6/20/2012
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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 and will teach at the Operations Level Course offered in Windham, Maine, later this month.

By Dr. Rebecca Gimenez

Recently, I drove five hours from Macon, Georgia to Florence, South Carolina, to take up David Grant’s offer to come ride with him on a feral hog hunt. I had met David in early May at the South Carolina Horsemen’s Council Expo in Camden. He’s a board member and avid Marsh Tacky breeder / owner who could spend hours talking about his horses. But instead he has taken an unusual approach – SHOW ‘EM.
(More about that later.)
Over the years, Grant has taken many hunting parties out to hunt these invasive and destructive hogs on various tracts of private land. In this case, we rode on a 3,000-acre tract that abuts a 40,000-acre private property. They use a locally famous breed of horse, the “Marsh Tacky,” which has its roots in the Spanish Barb that were brought to America in the 1600’s. It is also South Carolina’s State Horse. Click here to see Grant’s site.
I grew up on Florida Cracker horses, but had never ridden this related breed of small horses, averaging 14.2 hands. They looked like they easily packed large men for hours, so I wasn’t worried my tall frame would be too much for one.
I did bring my own saddle, a Tucker mounted police type saddle that I use for trail riding. What I didn’t bring was a long-sleeved, thorn-busting shirt. One of the men kindly loaned me his (while he chose to chivalrously ride with bare arms).
We met at the barn, then trailered seven horses, 11 mixed-breed hunting-hog dogs (from Grant’s pack of 30), and five men to the assembly site. Another woman was riding with us, who had ridden with this group numerous times. She smiled and was very quiet. I had only been told we’d be hunting “until we got a hog.”
I’m glad I didn’t wear my fancy jeans! They would have been ripped to shreds on the briar patches we rode through. I was the only one wearing a helmet, but this didn’t embarrass me at all – I was very glad for it. I’m glad I had on sunglasses because the branches could have taken out an eye on several occasions.

David didn’t fool around: each dog was outfitted with a GPS and radio tracking collar and he used a sophisticated GPS tracking device to keep tabs on each individual dog. (Two dogs got lost after we finally ended the hunt at 7PM. David went back out with the all terrain vehicle they’d brought to go retrieve them.)

The dogs stayed pretty much on target hunting hogs, but we did flush deer and turkey several times during the day.  Some were mixed bull terriers, Airedale, black-mouthed curr, and various hunting breeds.
The men all had sidearms and several had a shotgun off their saddle, and all had a hog-killing knife strapped to their saddle or to their bodies.  We were prepared for whatever was to come, and mounted as a group we then moved off quietly.

Most of the day’s riding was at a quiet, listening walk, or stopped to look for tracks and signs of hogs.  Except for the parts where:

•    we ducked though briars at a trot

•    swam the horses through a Cypress swamp to get to the dike where the dogs were baying up a hog

•    or galloped full-tilt back to the trailers trying to beat a deluge of rain and severe lightning

•    or cantered through the most amazingly small single track trails following the dogs baying after hogs.

In seven hours we covered a little over 17 miles.

Part II: Eleven dogs, four horses, four people get cozy in a stock trailer.

Part III: Snakes, swamps, and butt-sliding descents.

View Reader Comments:

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6/20/2012 Carmen
Wow, sounds like a first class adventure!!
6/20/2012 marjorie F.
So glad to see the Marsh Tacky recognized! Great history behind them, and not many of them left. If you go into David Grant's site, you will see how beautiful they are.
6/20/2012 Rebecca
David is a HUGE supporter of the Horse Council and works really hard to support horses in general - as well as his beloved Marsh Tackies. Thank you so much for running the story of the ride! my only regret is that I didn't take more pictures...
6/20/2012 Spencer Smith
Wow Dr. Gimenez - sounds like fun hate I missed it!

"My horses are my friends, not my slaves" - Dr. Reiner Klimke