I’m going to leave aside the very obvious “following hounds” bit and get into a list of five superficial reasons why we love hunting. I kind of hope that the weekly meet write ups put across a little bit of why I love crossing country behind hounds, but I realise that some of my recent lists may have come across as a bit cynical, and I’m really not that horrid (I give money to homeless people ALL THE TIME).
Photo credit Steve Key
Where else is it acceptable to be completely blotto before midday? Well okay, maybe it’s not *completely* acceptable. Regardless, hunting is a great place to test the sloe gin brewing skills of your friends and family, and there are few things sweeter in life than the many many pre- and post- hunting port- swilling times when about 20 people have packed in to a Croome lorry.
I tend to miss out on this, but who can turn down mounds of warm sausage rolls? My personal favourites have been foot followers handing out Freddo bars as we departed a meet, and the C&WW hosts who put on shots of tomato soup. Bit tricky with a veil, but definitely do able 😛
3 The People
There’s a lot of rubbish spouted about hunting people and how we’re all stuck up, bloodthirsty monsters who sacrifice our horses in moonlit vigils. We all know that that is untrue (especially anyone who has hunted with a Welsh hill pack of cobs and sheep farmers in waxed coats), but I think its worth pointing out how truly wonderful are the people we meet through hunting. I don’t trek back to the midlands to hunt because of some snotty instinct that hunting is nothing without rails and open country- I do it because the people I met while hunting there are some of the kindest and nicest I ever met, and the community I found there during my first year post- graduation kept me sane. I’m sure this is the same for a lot of people, and I feel doubly privileged to have TWO packs of wonderful, delightful people that I class as friends as well as hunting comrades.
I probably could have bought a house several years earlier if it wasn’t for hunt balls…. What could possibly be better than sitting down with your diary and writing in the dates of dozens of black tie events? Whether its your own ball, a “cocktail dress” affair with a buffet at the neighbouring pack, or a three- figure ticket and a dusting off of the family tiara, hunt balls are one of the best things in life.
5 Horse Excitement
Bluey is a massively bitchy horse who frequently kicks me, bites me, and trots past in the field with an arrogant toss of his head. Flatwork makes him buck, endurance made him lame, showjumping makes him throw tantrums, and inter hunt relay makes him stand on two legs in front of the crowd at a county show. However show him a pack of hounds, plait him on a cold winter’s evening, or load him in the pitch dark, and he is a completely different animal. I love feeling his heart beat against my boot, and see his ears prick at hound music. Horses love hunting as much as we do, and its so enjoyable to do something knowing that everyone involved is happy!
Photo credit Sally Robinson