Sunday, June 17, 2012

For Equine Adrenalin Junkies only

Imagine this; decking yourself out in long thermals, white trousers, stock, high top riding boots, pink coat and helmet and climbing into the saddle at 7:30 am.; a quick shot of warm "stirrup cup" as a bit of "dutch courage" and off into the never never to hunt fox with 18+1/2 couple (37 lean and fit hounds).

The stillness of the morning is broken by the sound of the Master's hunting horn and the chorus of hounds giving voice to the fleeting scent of fox. Your blood warms and something within you stirrs to a hightened readiness. The horse beneath leans on the bit and you're up in the irons and over the pommel at 3/4 pace. Any obstacle in your way; a panelled fence , a wire fence, a tree plantation. a gully , a river, mobs of sheep or cattle, crops, a road, anything; is taken in your stride. The adrenalin is racing as sweat builds up under your heavy woolen jacket , your hands are freezing and your eyes watering in the frosty morning air. Tally ho.

Who measures distance; who counts the minutes on a good ride? It may be 36 - 40 km or 2 hours later that you take a check on the reins as the fox goes to ground under a concrete slab of an old dairy. The hounds mark the spot and hunger for their prey. "Venery"; the art, the sport, the lore of hunting.

Its a dying tradition kept up by perhaps only the foolish and the hardy.

The Ellerslie Camperdown Hunt has been going since 1898. The current day Huntsman and Joint Master is
Mr John Crosby Goold:

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