9 things that only happen when you’re hunting on Boxing Day

From mysteriously shrinking clothes to a strict no tinsel rule and not being ashamed to get home in time for the King George, if you’re hunting on Boxing Day some of these might ring true...

1. Your hunting clothes mysteriously shrink in the cupboard on Christmas Day. It’s a well-known phenomenon; absolutely nothing to do with the gargantuan amount of food you consumed, of course. Breathe in for the photographers and let the safety pin fastening your breeches take the strain…

2. You will be surrounded by people you have never seen out hunting before on horses that haven’t seen hounds for exactly 365 days. Kick on and stay up at the front out of the melee.

3. You have to wear that incredibly blingy stockpin your well-meaning aunt gave your for Christmas. Yes, your hunting friends will notice and yes, they will laugh. But your aunt will be pleased and that matters more, so suck it up.

4. There will be what looks like millions of people on foot, many of whom only come into contact with hunting, horses and hounds on Boxing Day. They won’t necessarily be aware that one end bites and one end kicks, so don’t take that sharp four-year-old to give it some more life experience — take your steadiest neddy who will love being patted by children.

5. You will have a hangover. Don’t worry, so does everyone else. Hair of the dog is the only way – neck a couple of ports at the meet, however little you want to. Or do the huntsman’s trick of getting someone to fetch you a glass of whisky and milk, which is a miracle — if temporary — cure.

6. The trouble with the hair of the dog on an empty stomach trick is that it can skew your judgement. This may come in the shape of sudden, immense bravery (jumping gates off the road, that sort of thing), or beer goggles. No, you don’t fancy the second whipper-in…

7. There will be people whose horses are wearing tinsel. This is utter humiliation for them and all their mates will laugh. It’s the law — no tinsel if you are over the age of 12.

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8. It is perfectly OK to say “good night” early enough to be in the house in time to watch the King George at Kempton. The huntsman wants to do so too and would like you all to go home so he can.

9. It is all worth it, though — the uncomfortably tight coat, the washing of tails and socks on Christmas Night, the mouth as dry as the Sahara… Other, less fortunate people are dragging their reluctant spouses and children round the Boxing Day sales or visiting their awful relations. You are hunting, and all is right with the world.

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