Hunting is the most democratic of pastimes. It makes fools of all of us, and is the greatest leveller imaginable. But don’t worry, we are all in the same boat… Here are seven things that will inevitably happen to you out hunting at some point, whether you like it or not.
1. Spilling port on your breeches. You are handed a large glass of port at the meet. Gratefully, you take a sip – your horse moves, and you spill it everywhere – down your white hunting tie and all over your breeches, making it look like you have had an unfortunate encounter with a chainsaw. You are probably riding a grey horse, too, who now has ‘blood-coloured’ withers.
2. Jumping off your horse – and pulling a button off your hunting coat. In your effort to be helpful, you are the first to jump off to open a particularly tricky gate. Typically, you forget to ‘jump out’ a bit, slide down the saddle and pull off a precious hunt button on the way. You are too embarrassed to hold up proceedings by immediately searching for it, which means that you will never see it again, your coat will gape embarrassingly for the rest of the day, and you will forget to buy another one in time for your next day’s hunting so have to make do with a safety pin.
3. Not being able to get back on your horse. Talking about getting on and off – unless you are practically a world-class vaulter, you will undoubtedly struggle to get back on your very unhelpful horse after doing said gate, hopping round in circles with one foot in the iron. Said horse will also not line up next to the gate while you perch precariously. You will swear a lot and some helpful chap will kindly get off his own horse and give you a leg-up. You will miss-time the ‘1,2,3!’ and it will all get terribly embarrassing.
4. Bashing your knee on a gate. At some point, you will slam your knee into a gate-post when going through a narrow opening, or a gate will swing back on to your leg. It happens, it hurts and if you are lucky you will only have a whopping great bruise to show your partner, not a cast.
5. Getting lost. It’s 3.30pm, you are already late for the school run and you are miles from your box. You set off in the general direction of the meet, only to discover you are completely on the wrong road and in fact are going in circles. What did we used to do before the days of Google maps on your phone?
6. Losing your precious hunting whip. You put it down just for a moment beside your car or lorry while loading your horse, then drove off without it. Sadly, you have lost it forever – no one will ever admit to having picked it up, and you will have to ring your mother and tell her you have lost your christening present from your godmother (I’m talking from experience now). She will say, ‘Oh, how could you?’ and you will feel terrible.
7. Leaving your car/lorry lights on and returning to a flat battery. Really, really annoying and it will always happen when you are late and in a desperate rush to get somewhere like a parents’ evening at school. Pray for a kindly person with jump leads – in fact, we strongly recommend you keep jump leads and a bottle of whisky (as a thank you, not to drown your sorrows while you wait for assistance) in the car in preparation for this scenario.
Keep up to date with the latest hunt reports in Horse & Hound magazine every Thursday throughout the season.