Friday, April 4, 2014

Life on the Farm: Hunting Highlights

The hunting season ended recently. I went out three times this year, which is once more than I did last year. The truth is that I am just barely good enough to keep up with the field. Having only regularly ridden horses as an adult, I really don't have the confidence to gallop full speed across 6 fields in one go, jump massive hedges and gates, and navigate my horse amongst the dozens of others surrounding me. Plus, I like to stay close to Christopher and Coco, but I also don't like to feel that I'm holding them back, as they prefer to jump everything and keep a faster pace. Despite the excitement I feel at the meet, two hours in I inevitably ask myself, "What the hell am I doing here?" If I am not worn out physically by then, I am usually exhausted mentally and emotionally. I often ask myself how the 70-year-olds easily carry on for hours after I have made the turn back for my horse box, and I think it comes down to adrenaline. Two hours of vein-pumping adrenaline is exhausting. I think the oldies have the experience to just let their horses take them along, not fighting to slow down or avoid jumps that look too big. Maybe when I reach that age, I will finally be able to just enjoy the ride.

But for now I just love going to the hunting meets on foot. People may have complicated feelings about the hunt and the people that enjoy it, but to me it represents a community-wide ritual with a history and authenticity that I have rarely seen in my life. I love the eccentric characters, the adorable and enthusiastic hounds, the beautifully groomed horses, the impeccable manners with which you are greeted, and of course, the clothes. The clothes are beyond chic. You rarely see anyone wearing anything new. Most of the boots, breeches, jackets, stock pins, and hunting caps are old and worn, likely passed down through generations, but still entirely elegant. The riders themselves also have stunning posture when sitting on a horse, looking far more glamourous than they do standing on the ground. Although it is my ambition to hunt more with each season, for now I am equally happy to be an observer capturing this incredible scene with my camera.

The huntsman greeting the field at the meet.
Sometimes a young hound gets distracted and subsequently separated from the pack. 

An early morning start during the cubbing season.
My favourite moment of the season. The beautiful girl in her bowler hat riding side saddle is too good to be true. (Photo by Christopher)

A fieldmaster coming through our farm late one day. When I am in my office writing I can often hear the hounds yelping in the distance. I first shut Ginger inside, even though it kills her to be excluded. She starts howling like a coyote at the sound of the pack approaching. Then I walk down to the fields, opening the gates to make it easier for field to pass through. Watching them all ride through our "backyard" is breathtaking.
Setting off from the meet.

Navigating the farm land.
These men have obviously spend some time on the ground on this particularly muddy day. (Photo by Christopher)
Christopher riding to a cubbing meet.
Me on Polo at my third and final meet of the season.

The morning light and the slower pace makes cubbing way more my speed.

You can always tell Matt by his top hat. He gets my vote for best dressed every time.

Taking a breather in the sun.

Christopher on his new horse Sylvie. Isn't she pretty?

Matt again. I love how his waistcoat peaks out from under his jacket. And he wears these fleece-y wool jersey breeches that are very chic. 

The hounds having a well-deserved rest at the end of the day.


  1. I absolutely LOVE this post! Every once in a while I'll see a post like this that makes me yearn for the country.

  2. Beautiful photos. The photo Christopher took of the girl in the bowler hat looks like it could have been taken 100 years ago. I love every detail. Thank you!

  3. Poor fox !!! Despite that I love your blog

  4. I am in awe and so jealous. What a privilege to be able to ride in a something out of Downton Abbey. Or a Molly Keene book. I love how Keene describes the hunt..the cool fresh air, the thundering of the horses, the food and drink etc. And you're right..the provenance of the clothing just makes it more chic.
    BTW what is "cubbing?"

  5. these photos are magical - it makes me want to check out English country houses in Country Life Magazine right now! Beautiful post.

  6. Glorious, absolutely glorious. Scenes from out of a past time and place. Thank you so much for posting them. Ann

  7. These photos are just lovely - the clothes, the horses and the hounds - oh the hounds!

  8. Sorry someone left a snarky comment - downside of the web's anonymity. Oh well. I'm not a hunter but the photos are incredible. My favorite part of the traditions you shared is that the clothing is handed down from one generation to the next. I've gotten old enough to know how very special it is to have anything - a memory, a hat, a shared experience - with your grandparents once they are gone. Love your blog!

  9. Beautiful pictures..
    I discovered your blog quite recently and went through a lot of posts.. but I love nothing more than those narrating life at the countryside..
    Nature, Horses, and back to the real life.. what else.. ?

  10. this looks like the beginning of a beautiful book. the photos are transporting...

  11. I don't hunt, but feel like I do when I read your hunting inspired posts, they really are lovely. More please! Amanda

  12. I have done a lot of riding, started as a child but I have never been hunting but always wanted to go across country with a group. Now I am older I think I like your way of riding, take it easy, do what you can and enjoy the atmosphere. Love your blog and pictures.