This steady and unassuming horse of a lifetime dishes out good thrills and safe treks across the hunt field for young and experienced riders alike.
Jane Garland has some important advice about riding round little horses in the hunt field: Always check your girth. “One day while hunting, I found that out the hard way. The saddle slid sideways and off I tumbled.” Garland remembers her 15-hand, Percheron/Appaloosa mare staring down at her. “She just stood there looking at me, like, ‘Hey, Mom, I think you forgot to check something.’” That steady, unassuming personality is why Biscuit is known around the barn as Saint Biscuit. Still, “No more fuzzy girths,” Garland says.
In a way, that special memory personifies Biscuit to this day. She’s sure-footedly guided juniors and adults alike across the steep and often trappy terrain of southern Virginia with that same down-to-Earth (if not sometimes slightly opinionated) personality with which she stared down at Garland the day she slid laughing off her back and into the mud. “Also,” Garland adds, “her coloration is perfect for the Virginia red clay. Her socks are the color of our mud!”
Garland, a longtime Board member and former MFH of the Bedford County Hunt Club, bought Biscuit in 2006 from a friend who had purchased the PMU-bred mare as a 4-year-old for her son. He had put in the hours of basic groundwork and plenty of miles, but when he sprouted up to a not-so-modest height of six feet six inches, well, he didn’t have a good pair of rollerskates, so Biscuit found a new home with Garland, who fits her perfectly.
While she herself has enjoyed Biscuit’s sporty, low-profile dash across thousands of acres of Virginia’s hills and dales, Garland remembers one event in particular where she let loose, if only to give her rider an extra dose of thrill. “When she was younger, she started feeling her oats while out hunting,” she explains. “A friend was riding her in the field, and we were heading up a steep hill. The horse in front of her took off up that hill, and Biscuit couldn’t contain her excitement. So, off she went, charging up the hill with her head between her legs and bucking the whole way. Everyone had a good laugh. The great thing about Biscuit is that you know what is coming before she does it.”
But Biscuit’s knack for helping junior riders gain confidence in the hunt field has matured as she has. Now 19 years old, “She is an incredibly careful horse and does not take a step wrong, especially when a little kid is riding her,” says Garland. “In the words of the child who rides her now, ‘Who needs a pony when you have a Biscuit! She is the best horse in the world!’”
Biscuit has even dished out thrills at the races. She won the junior trotting race several years in a row at Garland’s local point-to-point. “She just loves people, especially the little ones,” Garland says.
Biscuit just seems to know who’s in the tack and turns on the thrills accordingly. Now hunting in her fourteenth season, she leads, follows, goes first, second, or third flight, and even whips-in when necessary. “She understands what is going on in the field, and she’s always aware of where the huntsman and hounds are,” Garland says. “And, of course, she also always knows the fastest way back to the trailers.”
“I have appreciated her love of kids these past seven years,” adds Garland’s good friend Kindra Kenny, who is also a Bedford County Hunt Club member. “My 7-year-old daughter loves her so much. Biscuit’s taught her many lessons and I will forever be grateful to her for that. I can’t wait to get my daughter out in the hunt field with Biscuit for the first time this season!”
Just remember to tighten that girth.