Hunting Diary: Mud, Dogs, and Sausage Rolls

Good evening! Last weekend I failed to make an appearance in the hunting field, being stuck in the hairdresser’s chair having the awkward conversation of trying to describe that evening’s occasion while carefully omitting the word “hunt”. Nobody wants to have their ear “accidentally” burnt with a curling iron. Anyway, E#1, Full English, Little M and I went to visit our lovely neighbours at the South Pembrokeshire for their hunt ball, a debaucherous evening which ended with one of our number taking command of the huntsman’s coat and horn. By the early hours the dance floor was so dominated by visiting Tivyside bitches that the South Pembrokeshire declared it a joint meet. We now eagerly await their return visit in February, although I wish good luck to anyone who thinks they can get hold of our huntsman’s belongings…

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Over the past few months E#1 has been bringing back into work a former racehorse who has spent a few years as a casual hacking horse. The plan was to introduce him to hounds today, and so I booked a day’s annual leave, and smiled at the wonderful neatness of Bluey chaperoning a thoroughbred new to hunting on the sixth anniversary of his first introduction to hounds (VWH). In the end E#1 was tied to her work desk (not literally I hasten to add) and Full English had a dentist’s appointment. However, in the meantime I had received intelligence that Side Saddle T and her mother would be visiting from the Llandeilo, the meet being hosted by their family, and so Bluey and I made our way hunting. Its a hard life, but someone has to do it…

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This winter/autumn is shaping up to be a very wet one, and it was in rainbows and heavy showers that I prepared Bluey for the meet. It was dry getting there, and I left Bluey in the box as the meet was going to be held on foot. I have heard rumours that our neighbours at the Vale of Clettwr do this at every meet in order to maximise alcohol consumption.

A while ago I bought a pair of vintage Land Army breeches, the sort of elephant ears that make it appear that should I be unseated, I could actually take flight. I was fully expecting there to be peals of laughter at my sartorial choice, but they actually attracted a number of compliments! Our huntsman even stated that he needed a pair himself- and I pointed out that he was in tremendous luck, as Side Saddle T has just started making breeches, and would be able to equip him with exactly what he needed. The hosts supplied us with some excellent mulled wine, and very good gluten- free mince pies, made for Side Saddle T by her dietary- aware family. The Doctor hacked to the meet and dismounted to make the most of the meet buffet, shooting backwards attached to the horse (Lucy) when a massive hailstorm shower sent the mare into orbit.

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A lot of people had piled into raincoats and waterproof breeches, and we set off. There was a good turnout for a Tuesday, with four coming from our Lady Master’s yard, the Italian Stallion trying out his new horse, and AG arriving at the meet past eleven and remembering his horse’s name twenty minutes in!

Our day started by drawing a trail laid in woods below the road, horses keeping to a muddy track while the hounds worked below. We had a hip flask break pretty early on, always good because it allows for alcohol to be metabolised before the drive home. For some reason Bluey was in a very grumpy mood, only looking happy when he saw “his” hounds. He and Wuli (SST’S horse) have met each other on a number of occasions, but decided today that they loathe each other, and so it was over bared teeth and raised legs that we passed hip flasks. Later on Bluey would lower his head to sneakily eat a fern, and Wuli would attempt to kick his face. A lovely pair of lady’s hunters they are!

We had a few little jumps over logs, SST’s mother doing very well to clear them after insisting that neither she nor her mare “did jumping”. Bluey was on fine form for once, not deciding to stop at anything, and we got nicely splattered in mud.

Hounds were singing in the woods below us. While I fully appreciate the splendour of hound music swelling above the stubble fields and plump hedges of the Shires packs, there is a rare magic in hearing them deep in the Welsh trees, buffered from any noise of cars or civilisation.

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Bluey pulled a shoe not long after hounds were pulled out of the woods for the next trail. As the rest of the field crossed the river and moved on the Llandeilo guests and I hacked for home. Hail came again as we got on to the road, and we were three wet riders as we turned up at the farm- three riders very grateful for the offer of cawl (a Welsh soup/stew hybrid traditionally made with lamb or ham, stock, and vegetables- tastes best on the second tasting, as the flavours mature, leading to the Welsh idiom about “reheated cawl being better”- meaning that a relationship is better the second time around. Food for thought for all of you navigating the F***boy Jungle).

It was a rather nice day to be out (certainly preferable to being in the office) and I am hoping to do more Tuesdays- starting with a little trip to the C&WW in a fortnight! This weekend should bring a hunting bonanza with Bluey out on the Saturday, North Cots hunt ball that evening, and a visit to the bloodhounds on Sunday, where I have very kindly been offered a horse by the MBH. In other news plans are still afoot to get Molly in to a side saddle, and should Bluey make himself unavailable again, I was assured today that her owners want me to ride her <3

Its a hard life… But someone has to go to these hunt balls and ride these ponies…

Good night x

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