Here there be dragons...

"I'm telling you stories. Trust me." - Winterson


So today I went fox-hunting for the first time (think old-british photographs). I've wanted to go for quite some time, but more for the experience than cause I really thought I'd enjoy it. Well omg I had SO much fun!!!! Wow. STILL grinning :) It was, admittedly, nowhere near the adrenaline rush of XC, but it was just fun. Everybody was plesant and welcoming, an awesome ride, and time just flew.

When I mentioned my concern about the actual "hunting" aspect of it, I was told not to worry because "the fox is way too smart to be caught by a pack of loud dogs." hahaha and sure enough, the fox survived the encounter -- although admittedly probably wasn't very happy about the whole experience, but he's still alive and well :)

How often have you been ready to go in the show ring in the middle of August, sweltering in your jacket and wondering whoever thought long, black sleeves were a good idea for a summer sport? Well of course we all know the tradition dated to hunting in England where warmth was likely a good thing... Today was the first time ever I've looked at my show jacket on a day where I had to wear it and thought "this isn't nearly warm enough!" hahaha fortunately for me, Lin, who owns Smokey, kindly lent me her warm hunt coat, so it was all good.

Well I have to admit the tradition and pagentry of the whole event appealed to me -- even if I did have to tie a stock tie stupidly early this morning *g* The colours and history... It was probably a pointless sport even a few hundred years ago (hunting in the King's forrest in England) but much of the tradition has lasted. The master we were following is 82 yrs old. I will be THRILLED if I'm going that strong at that age! Galloping and jumping in the woods. Wow. The huntsman, who does this full time as a profession, is responsible for training the dogs, managing them on the hunt, caring for them, and I think (but I could be wrong here) breeding them as well. This particular huntsman is the third generation to do so for this hunt, and his neice and (I want to say granddaughter, but that might not be right -- def some of the 3rd generation below) were both whips -- taking care of preparing the next two generations. Whips basically help corral the hounds and make sure they don't stray tooooooo far off course. Was quite the sight to see one at one point sitting alone probably a mile away, across a pond and up a hill, inbetween two trees, intent on the scene in front. A Roman sentry on guard... Or maybe just a rider watching a hound in the distance -- but my imagination is more fun :)

Oh more on the imagination gone wild -- the hounds rushing through the brush was a total horror-movie moment! Where the "creature" is approaching and all you can hear is the brush rustling and you can see the leaves move, but no sign of an actual being...

So some of the things I learned today:
- the dogs are not dogs, they are hounds. Fortunately I was warned about this *before* I went so no social blunders there.
- never pass the master. hahaha this one I actually knew about and was the primary reason I was concerned about hunting Zel :)
- Under no circumstances allow your horse to kick a hound (dogs are fair game, but don't kick the hounds :)
- It's also bad to allow your horse to kick another horse.
- Kicking a person is also frowned upon, but really they should be able to get out of the way. But don't kick a hound >;-P

Somebody today told me that hunting was all about relationships, and I found that an interesting concept. There is the relationship between the huntsman and the individual hound; between the huntsman and the pack of hounds; between hound and hound; between the huntsman and the whips and the masters; between the master and the field (there were 3 masters and fields at this hunt); between the rider and their horse; between the horse and horse; between horse and hound; and of course, between all of the above and the fox! hahaha

There were just over 60 people in the hunt today. Apparently that's big for a Monday -- sort of wonder how nobody has to work, but hey more power to them :) Everybody there fell into one of two categories: those who ride to hunt or those who hunt to ride. I would def be in the hunt to ride category -- go out cause it's a fun ride, but if the horses weren't involved there'd be absolutely no point. And it was pretty easy to guess by looking around who was in each category *g*

Possibly the most impressive moment was the complete and instant silence when the hounds lost the scent. That much more intense for the cacophony of sound that preceded it. And followed it :)

Ok well I think that's enough of a novel for now :) Only one pic, just before we headed out, here:


Sounds like FUN!!!!

When I was a kid there was an older lady that rode side-saddle with the london hunt club, complete with top hat and veil. I found out as an adult it was probably a lady from the Toronto hunt, who also had a wooden leg...


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