It might be a month until the opening meet, but autumn hunting is well underway and hounds, hunt staff and followers all over the country are in the thick of one of the busiest times of the hunting year. Here’s what you need to know about autumn hunting…
1. It happens early. Very early. Get used to setting your alarm for 5am — and if you ‘snooze’, you lose.
2. It’s awesome. Fewer people, closer to the hounds, gorgeous misty mornings. Of course it plays a serious role in educating hounds, horses and humans, but really we love it because it’s the best bit of the season.
3. You can actually do a day’s work as well afterwards. You might not be that productive, but you can sit in the office and fiddle with a spreadsheet, surreptitiously yawning. Much coffee is needed.
4. Quite often, your hunting clothes appear to have shrunk over the summer. It’s not them, it’s you.
5. But we love tweed. So much lower maintenance than black or blue, which shows every bit of dirt. And brown boots look great — just remember to change your spur straps to brown as well.
6. And no plaiting, hurrah!
7. We’re not sure about hipflasks. Is damson gin before 8am a bit much?
8. Ooh, breakfast. A bacon and egg roll won’t help with point number four, but after a 5am start and four hours on a horse who thinks this new game is, like, totally exciting, you deserve it.
9. Planning is key. Get everything ready the night before and laid out for the morning. You do not want to be searching for your martingale or hairnet at 5am, waking up everyone else who is not so enamoured by an early start.
Horse & Hound’s top tip: If you have small children to take autumn hunting, there is nothing wrong with sending them to bed wearing their hunting clothes – minus the hat, boots and coat, obviously – the night before to save time.