A kind offer of a lift to see a farmer after hunting by one of our wonderful foot-followers last night got me thinking. What makes the perfect “footie”?
I suppose it’s fair to say that without the burden of a horse to get ready there is no excuse for the footie to be late to the meet.
This said, those who arrive an hour ahead of time and start to devour the host’s port and sausage rolls before a horse or hound is anywhere in sight are less than perfect.
Those, however, who offer to help the host with the feeding of the 5,000 without sneakily eating or drinking their way through the assorted goodies are heading towards perfect.
When it comes to paying a cap, there are those who fly towards the bag as it is shaken and those who run as fast as they can in the opposite direction or find, having filled the car up with fuel, that they have no money left.
The whisky draw, with opportunity to win something, can be a game-changer, although the perfect footie will have not only put their £1 in but also donated the prize.
On leaving the meet, a quick “thank you” to the host as the horses move off and then it’s straight into the iron steed. The perfect footie will, of course, never park on mown grass, in a gateway or in front of a hunt jump; they will find a wide verge and pull neatly off the road to allow free flow of other road users coming past.
Pushing their way through the field to keep alongside the hounds or, in some cases, nearly running them over, is not for the perfect footie. They will be ensuring that other road users are thanked and that the hounds have safe passage when crossing the highway.
They will find a vantage point where they can see the goings-on through their smart binos and, at times, delve into their basket for refreshment. The world will be put to rights as others gather round to hear views on current affairs, Brexit and gossip closer to home.
As the day comes to a close, the offer of a lift back to the lorry or trailer and a check that there are no hounds missing will be on the perfect footie’s mind. Then they head home for a bath and hot drink before restocking the basket with goodies ahead of another day out, because the perfect footie doesn’t miss a day.
Christmas is here, and with so many days’ hunting the shopping trip will once again be last-minute. The fight for a parking space, then all that indecision over what to get, is still to come. No doubt Mrs F and the Frampettes have it all in order and a list will appear in due course.
It is unlikely that the hunt staff will have more than a few hours off to enjoy their lunch on Christmas Day. After hounds and horses have been done, the clean-up from Christmas Eve and preparation for Boxing Day will be top of their agenda.
Local towns will once again welcome the hounds for their traditional meets. Crowds will appear as always to show their support for hunting. The need for fresh air and some exercise after the big day is a good excuse for you all to go out and show that we are still here and very much at the heart of the countryside.
Lastly and most importantly, please give generously to the hunt staff Christmas boxes. It’s always hugely appreciated.
Ref Horse & Hound; 20 December 2018