With the Melton Hunt Ride now clearly on the horizon (7 February) the time has come for those who want to take part in the thrill of a ride across serious jumping country — or for those spectators who wish to get a glimpse of the action — to start putting dates in the diary.
As well as the chance to hunt afterwards, some events are run in conjuction with a hunt scurry, a gate-jumping competition or the option to ride the course behind a field master at less-than racing-pace.
Horse & Hound takes a look at some of the hunt rides that are already confirmed for the 2016 season.
1. Melton Hunt Ride
This takes place over a course of 3.5miles of open grassland between Freeby/Waltham on the Wolds and Stonesby in Leicestershire in the cream of the Belvoir Hunt country on Sunday, 7 February. For entries and further details visit www.melton-hunt-club.org.uk
2. Ossman’s Ride
Take part in the 2.5-mile Cheshire Hunt Ossman’s Ride at Haughton Hall or enter a relay team of three for the scurry over a shortened course of one mile that includes a port stop! Hunting will take place afterwards over some of the best of their hunt country (20 February). Stabling and B&B can be arranged too for those travelling longer distances. For all enquiries contact Charlie Barlow on 07802 560182 or firstname.lastname@example.org
3. Old Berkshire
The Old Berkshire is running both a hunt and a regimental race across a course of approximately 2-miles at Manor Farm, Little Coxwell (28 February). There is an alternative fun ride for those wanting to try the course following a field master. For further details contact Lucy Lewis on Lucy@hpa-polo.co.uk
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Choose your own line over the Wynnstay’s two mile course being held over excellent hunting country at Manor Farm, Wychough (5 March). The course will be approximately 2 miles with over 20 hedges and fences mostly over old dairy farmland, where riders can choose their own line. The shortest route will involve tackling more substantial obstacles while the slightly easier alternatives will take longer to negotiate. Any competitor, non-subscriber, wishing to hunt after the ride, must book with the hunt secretaries Mr and Mrs A F Anson 01948 830611 before the day of the ride.
Riders must be aged 16 years or over. For entry forms email Shirley@bbsltd.co.uk
5. Isle of Wight
The Isle of Wight Grand National and Hunt Scurry takes place at West Ashey Farm in Ryde, in which competitors complete two laps of the left-handed course (20 March). For further details visit www.iwfoxhounds.com
6. The East Sussex & Romney Marsh
The hunt Scurry takes place on Good Friday (25 March) at The Glebe, Burwash, East Sussex. Held over approximately two miles of hedges and timber across well-drained seasoned turf. There are some excellent prizes on offer including the Parker Challenge Cup for the fastest horse and rider to complete the course and a half subscription to the East Sussex & Romney Marsh Hunt for the first non-ESRM member home. There are also prizes for the first lady side-saddle rider home and the winning heavyweight. For further details visit www.esrmclub.co.uk
7. Harborough Ride (pictured)
Competitors in the Fisher German Harborough Ride will take on a grass course in the Saddington Vale, in the heart of the Fernie Hunt country (2 April). Run over approximately 3.5miles, prizes are awarded for each of the three divisions — heavyweight, middleweight and lightweight. An alternative fun ride, following a field master, will take place after the main ride, over a shortened course of approximately 2 miles. For further details please contact Mrs Kate Foster, email@example.com
8. The Silver Spur
A new event for 2016, the organisers have created a course of approximately 2.5miles of undulating country across old turf in the Bicester Hunt with Whaddon Chase country. With 21 hedges and three open ditches and a variety of different classes, this is sure to be a great addition to the hunt ride calendar. For further details contact Lucy Holland, firstname.lastname@example.org or 07810 503450