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Up to 60 riders from England, Europe and the USA are due to descend on Co Meath next week to tackle the country’s fearsome drains and ditches riding side saddle.

The Meath Foxhounds side saddle meet (19 January) is being organised by Susan Oakes, who set a British high jump record of 1.80m in July 2012.

“I wasn’t expecting so many to come,” said Susan, who is currently schooling the 60 hunters she has sourced for the meet sideways.

“Last year we did it for the first time and had 12 ladies, so I thought maybe 25 would come. It is great for hunting to have so many people coming from all over the world.”

Interest has been such that riding applications are closed, although there are still tickets available for the hunt ball which takes place that night.

A sizeable contingent are travelling to Ireland from Virginia, USA. A host of gutsy British riders are also expected, including former H&H Thruster of the week Lucy Holland and Becca Holland of the Flying Foxes side saddle display team.

Becca, who attended last year, described it as “the best day’s hunting of my life”.

She added: “It was epic. You have an idea of what hunting in Ireland is like, but then you actually see what you’re about to hurl yourself off!

“We hit a series of banks that were vertical and some of the biggest ditches I’ve ever seen in my life.”

She will also be riding one-handed, as she is due to have surgery on a broken hand a few days before the meet.

“It will be fine,” she told H&H.

“I have solved my main problem — how to do my hip flask. The daughter of a friend of mine is going to ride next to me and do my flask.

“Kick on!” she added.

This news story was first published in the current issue of H&H (10 January 2013)