Many of us would need a lot of encouragement — or failing that, a large whisky — before hunting a young horse. But there are plenty of people who insist that, approached in the right way, it can be very gratifying.
Of course experience is important and the rider needs the knowledge of both hunting and riding to make up for what is lacking underneath. A novice rider on a young horse can be a recipe for disaster.
People choose a variety of approaches, but they all agree that a gradual introduction is best. If you are not a morning person this will be tough, because there is no better start for a young horse than some gentle autumn hunting.
Early on in the season, it is all about the hounds and long periods of inactivity at the covert or beside a field of maize which will have a soothing effect on a young animal.
If they make the association between hounds and galloping full tilt in a herd early on, you are in trouble.
Take a look at our dos and don’ts to make the experience as pleasurable as possible.
- Take things slowly — start off gradually with autumn hunting
- Be mindful of every situation and think ahead. If you anticipate potential problems, you will be prepared to deal with them without a fight
- Have a nanny on a quiet horse or companion for the first few days to help you out if necessary
- Wear a green ribbon and make sure other members of the field know to give you plenty of space
- Face hounds at all times
- When jumping, try to follow people who are guaranteed to leave the ground
- Do plenty of schooling, jumping and socialising with other horses before you go out
- Ring the master and ask if you can go on hound exercise
- Ever forget that you are on a young horse
- Get among the hounds
- Walk before you can run — volunteering to go on point or do a gate should be left until later on in the season
- Get left behind or stay nervously at the back with a tight rein — let your horse go with the flow
- Feed your young horse too much until he has settled — if possible, hunt him from the field
- Get into a tricky situation — one hairy incident will stay in the horse’s (and other people’s) mind for ages