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"I get out of bed with excitement and joy!" So Madison Staiano, age 10, describes her feelings each hunt morning. She began riding for the show ring, and her first hunt was at South Creek Foxhounds' (FL) Opening Meet on her versatile small pony hunter, Mighty Mouse. Although it was a quiet day, she was instantly hooked. Madison's mentor, Marylu Gallagher, member and past professional whipper-in, has taught her the traditional rules of foxhunting, and Madison has fallen in love with the sport and hopes to always be involved with riding to hounds.

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Madison well over a coop. Jennifer Staiano photo.

During her first season, Madison witnessed all the possible hunt scenarios; from blank days, to great fox chases, to wild coyote runs. One memorable moment during Madison's early hunting career came during cubbing season. She was riding a medium pony owned by Ridge Point Stables named Peanut Butter. After a 10 minute hack up the road with hounds, a coyote jumped up right under the field and away everyone went. Peanut Butter and Madison zig-zagged through a pine grove, bounced over a ditch and dashed down a dirt road in pursuit. It was fast and furious. Members on unfit horses slowed to a trot, unfit members slowed to a walk and Madison and Marylu galloped on, catching up to the field and the hounds. It was a great chase! 

Madison has been a junior member of South Creek Foxhounds for two seasons. She recently sold her favorite small pony, Mighty Mouse and now hunts on her mom's horse, Rock My World. When she is not hunting, she can be found in the show ring, on her large pony hunter, Fashion Scho, whom she also hopes to ride in the hunt field. Here are her responses to our "Leash of Questions" inquiries:

1. Who is your favorite hunt horse or pony, and why?

Answer: My favorite hunt pony is Mighty Mouse, better known as "Moose". Moose is 12.2hh and I have had him since I was 6. We have been through everything together and I trust him completely. He is very brave and so much fun to gallop on.
 
2. In one sentence, what is your favorite thing about foxhunting?
 
Answer: My favorite thing about foxhunting is the great experience of just being out in the field, especially when we get on a chase.
 
3. Getting up early to go hunting: Jump out of bed excited, or roll over for five more minutes?
 
Answer: I like when I get up early for the hunts. I get out of bed with excitement and joy.
 
Many thanks to Marylu Gallagher for sharing Madison's background with us for this story.
 
To learn more about South Creek Foxhounds, visit their website here.
 
For more information on foxhunting activities for children, see the MFHA's Kids page right here.

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