Oooh you don’t know how much effort it took me to not call this post “a threesome of meets”. Too much I think. Anyway, apologies for the delay. Contrary to rumour I was not arrested for nudity at the Pembrokeshire/cause a traffic accident, I’ve just been a bit slack with writing.
Also I broke my toe which you will hear about in due course.
Yes so Saturday before last (17th) I headed up north to join the Tivyside for a meet on “the hill.” By the hill they of course mean the Preseli mountains. Bluey begged a weekend off to get over the trauma of being soaked at the Pembs side saddle meet and I begged a ride on Fynn the thoroughbred, the bay beauty in the photo above (obviously not ridden by me in that image) who belongs to Tivyside of the C&WW “won’t jump” story (see previous updates).
Fynn is a lovely lovely horse and we had a nice hack to the meet, blowing off some steam and accompanied by Tivyside and Blue (GREY Blue, are you following?).
We got to the meet and immediately everyone asked how much calmer Fynn had had. None I replied. Oh dear. The suspicious part of my mind wondered if it was pay back for the Croome hunt rails, kinder members of the field assured me that it must be because of my excellent riding ability. Yeah right….
The meet was on a local farm and the field were utterly spoilt with loads and loads of smoked salmon sandwiches and the most delicious mulled wine. I had to turn down all the breadstuff which disappointed one of the footies who assured me that I needed fattening up. I like people who say that…
We moved off into some fields and I was introduced to everyone. Previously I had written to the secretary asking for permission to visit, so it wasn’t a surprise for them. Finn had a bit of a fuss when we stopped for a hound that was stuck in a gate, but otherwise settled down and was wonderfully behaved. One of the whips suggested that it was the different rider…
So onto the mountain.
For those who don’t know, the Preseli mountains are in north Pembrokeshire, and it is from this wilderness that the bluestones of Stonehenge were dragged. Galloping over the top we dodged outcrops of blue rock. The views from there were amazing, looking for miles across the rolling hills of sheep and rock formations. In between the gorse bushes and reeds there are bogs and streams and it is a world apart from the neat fields and manicured rails of the Croome.
By 2pm most of the field had turned for home and it was just a couple of us and hunt staff left out. Trails had been laid across the mountain and I had one of the best runs I have ever had out hunting, galloping after hounds and jumping gorse and streams. Hounds checked on the brow of the hill and we listened to the terrier men on the radio and watched their quads appear on the horizon. The Tivyside have an excellent huntsman who is brilliant with his pack and it shows in the standard of the hunting, especially under challenging conditions.
At dusk we loaded both horses onto the hunt lorry and hitched a lift back. It was an excellent first day out with a new pack.
And so on to Christmas Eve!
Or maybe not quite.
The Monday before Christmas I was prepping eggnog for a drinks party when the door bell rang. I rushed to get to it before the terriers and tripped. Later while putting together the cheese board I decided to have a look at my toe and assess the damage… Under the sock it was sticking out at a right angle. Bit uncomfortable and an annoyance with Christmas hunting.
Anyway, being a fool etc etc etc I insisted that I would be fine to hunt on Christmas Eve. So I loaded Bluey up and drove him up to north Pembrokeshire, feeling pretty close to death (not toe related but work Christmas party related). I prepped Bluey’s tail with some tinsel and prepared myself for our first astride meet of the season.
There was a similar friendly group of regular followers out, and a chap down from London who was brand new to hunting. With the meet near an old disused railway there was no excuse needed for building some jumps. Bluey and I jumped a small gate, the first time either of us have done so! Hounds were working a little way away, so keeping them in sight there were plenty of breaks for hip flasks, and some of the followers did some saddle- standing, a habit that seems to be spreading (I think I carried it on me from the Carmarthenshire).
One of the landowners had very kindly given us permission to gallop around the headlands of his field of beet. Asking permission to pass the Field Master I let Bluey extend into his lolloping gallop and he gratefully pulled away from the field. We were all pretty muddy by this point and stretches of water on the railway track did not help matters.
It was a short day because of people wanting to get back for last- minute Christmas preparations, so we hacked back in daylight. The new follower had had an excellent and educational day, and as an outsider I was very aware of how welcoming and kind the regular followers are. On my part I pointed my stick at him for calling the hounds “dogs” which he took with the intended good humour.
And on to today!
I stuck the side saddle back on Bluey, and turned over a new leaf by wearing a new hunting stock shirt rather than a polo neck or my Ciren tie with a shirt. Getting into the pub car park was a bit traumatic but I managed it and got a remedial Diet Coke from the bar. H from the Pembs side saddle meet was also out sideways, the Tivyside being her local pack. There was a good turn out of keen riders and it was the most beautiful clear day- we could see for miles across the mountains under blue skies. Utterly magical some would say.
I had a bit of a mishap with Bluey losing both saddle pads while cutting across country. I grabbed one of them, but the other one was left behind…
Thankfully there was a bit of a check and the quad bikes were nearby so I jumped off to rearrange my saddle, hoping to use a quad as a ledge to get back on….. And then they hurried off. One of the lady riders saw the situation I was in and hopped off to give me a leg up, which unfortunately meant bouncing on my broken toe..
The terrier men redeemed themselves later when they approached us waving my lost saddle pad. I slung it over my shoulder for an attractive sheepskin banner look.
The day continued fast and furious, with galloping up and across the mountain, over banks and ditches. The field master was riding like a man possessed, keeping the field closer to hounds than I have ever been. It was an amazing day and by mid- afternoon I was ready to hack Bluey home to the pub for cawl.
So thank you Tivyside Hunt for three fantastic meets. Another brilliant pack to visit, with brilliant hunt staff and a very good field master and friendly field!
Not sure what’s going on with me over the New Year, as The Toe has put an end to my plans of attending a party in Somerset, so I may be out on NYE. Will be back with the C&WW as soon as I can!
Good night xx