Fox Hunting

Horse Cultures of the World

Members of the Old Surrey Burstow and West Kent Hunt ride to Chiddingstone Castle for the annual Boxing Day hunt in Chiddingstone, south east England December 26, 2014. Since a ban stopped fox hunting with hounds, hunts continued with dogs chasing down a pre-laid scented trail instead of a fox.  REUTERS/Luke MacGregor (BRITAIN - Tags: ANIMALS SOCIETY)

Have you been seduced by the misty allure of sporting scenes from Downton Abbey? Perhaps you’re a literary type and the romance of galloping across the moors with Heathcliff has piqued your interest. If you aren’t interested in the competitiveness and stress of showing, but still like the pomp and circumstance of getting dressed up and taking your horse out, the sport of fox-hunting might just be your cup of tea.

Originating in England in the 16th Century, the sport has spread around the world with clubs in Australia, Canada, France, Ireland, Italy and the United States. Laws have been passed prohibiting the hunting of live foxes with dogs, so many of the hunts that take place these days follow a pre-determined drag scent.

Riders get dolled up with stock ties, jackets and tall boots, but don’t let this parade of pomp and glamour turn you away. They aren’t afraid of getting dirty and roughing it, and fox hunting is as extreme as the rider wants it to be. The group is divided into ‘fields’, with the more experienced riders who are looking for a good gallop and some jumping up the front, and the riders who want to tone the adventure down just a tad, and opt for more trotting at the back.

The Cottesmore Hunt meet at Ladywood Lodge, Knossington, on Tuesday 3rd March 2015.

In the beginning it’s a lot of stops and starts as the hounds search the ground for the scent, but when they catch it the chase is on, and it’s well worth the wait. And let’s not forget to mention there’s a lot of whiskey in hip flasks being passed around, which helps to ward off the chill and the aches of being in the saddle for a number of hours.

Fox hunting has a social, non-competitive atmosphere that’s a little more thrilling than your average hack. It’s been an activity on the top of my bucket list for a very long time now globetrotters. Has anyone had the chance to do it? I would love, love, LOVE to hear about your experience (but I can’t promise I won’t turn green with envy)!

Reference: Horse Network

Image credits: Luke MacGregor; Chasing A Fox

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