Its been a long summer without the fun and games of following hounds. Now is the time to prepare for the season ahead, and to help you along here is a useful list….
1 Find your breeches
Barbecues, summer parties and ice cream, combined with a lack of exercise and a few too many drinks have not been kind to your waistline. You will need to lie on the bed and swear to get into them. Practice some squats to make sure that they can cope with your riding and you don’t end up flashing your thong to the Pony Club.
2 Find your horse
The little shit has had the whole summer to gorge on grass, grow a mane to rival Kate Middleton, and practice his best bucks. Drag him into the stable and prepare the assault of hill work, brushing, re- schooling, and mane pulling. The latter is best approached with a stern voice, a sturdy comb and some words of warning. Remind your horse that if you have to go through waxing to meet beauty standards imposed by the patriarchy then he can have his mane pulled once a year to meet the turn out standards imposed by.. The Patriarchy. Blame it all on the patriarchy. Sorted.
3 Scarlet Fever Inoculation
“I don’t need this!” I hear you cry “I’ve been hunting for twenty years! The MFH already had a dicky hip and a red face when I first came out! His wife reminds me of my games mistress! There is no chance that I’m going to come down with Scarlet Fever.”
Yes well, have you seen the new huntsman? He may have looked plain as your fat bay’s bottom when you spied him at the welcome drinks, but the situation will be much changed several weeks into the season. With a well- fitting coat, a smart horse and the long nights of winter the disease may begin to spread. Don’t blame me when you find yourself offering your body in lieu of a Christmas tip, only to discover that his nubile teenaged girl groom has been er, “blowing the hunting horn” since the puppy show.
4 Bottle Your Sloe Gin
Ah 2015, a bumper harvest of sloes… As a result you have approximately twenty bottles of various sizes brewing away in the log shed. Now is the time to pull them out, strain the sloes and re- package the gin for hip flask toasts and thoughtful gifts. In reality you will trip over the terrier and smash two while moving them, forget about the five you put in the boot room, leave the sloes sitting on the draining board in a colander for three weeks while you think of something to do with them, and declare that half the batch is disgusting and full of tiny hedgerow maggots.
5 Check Your Vehicle
Especially the suspension. The huntsman may spurn your advances, but advanced cases of Scarlet Fever can manifest themselves in illicit romps with anything wearing breeches.
6 Shooting Temptations
Book your wife a course of shooting lessons (not with the cute young instructor fresh out of Ciren). Remind her of her duty to attend her father’s family shoot. This will give you the freedom to hunt her horse every Saturday. Unfortunately your eye will follow the pretty young thing riding side saddle… You can’t help it, she’s always with hounds!
7 Have a Haircut
Let’s face it, once the season starts you won’t have the time or the money to visit the barber.
8 Buy Your Farrier A Bottle
If any of the sloe gin is drinkable then pass him a bottle. You need to bribe him in advance for the 7am tearful phone call asking him to come out and shoe your daughter’s pony before opening meet. You could do the same to the hunt paparazzi, to ensure that all “tumbler” images are erased and a really nice shot appears of you jumping a hedge. Its so strange that the hedge looks bigger in the photo of you…
9 Share a Hunting Meme on Social Media
If the season starts, and its not on Facebook, has the season really started?