The hunting season may be over but for some hunt followers and their horses it brings on the start of a whole new set of challenges when the summer inter-hunt relay competitions get underway. These adrenalin-fuelled team events usually involve two teams of four members going head-to-head against the clock over a mirror image course.
The winner of each heat then gets to go forward into the next round of these knock-out competitions where sometimes the fences go up and the course might even change. Things usually start to get really exciting when the semi-finals start though.
As well as a variety of jumps — including both knock-down and solid fences — course designers occasionally mix things up by including gates to open and close, bending poles to negotiate or even giving competitors a glass of port to carry with penalties for those who spill any.
Accuracy is the key as well as speed because knockdowns usually incur time penalties — meaning the first across the line isn’t necessarily the winner.
All across the country practices are taking place ahead of team selection, with hunts vying to line up to land the spoils at some prestigious venues, often taking home a healthy cheque to help boost hunt funds. The competitive side of even the most relaxed hunt subscriber can suddenly get stirred up when they enter the ring as a member of an inter-hunt relay team.
Hotly contested, these competitions can appear in a variety of settings. Some are stand-alone events while others are crowd-pleasers as part of other major shows and events. The highlights for many include riding in the Castle Arena at Windsor Horse Show, racing against teams of jockeys and event riders at Barbury Castle Horse Trials and competing at the Festival of Hunting at the East of England Showground at Peterborough.
We take a look at some of the forthcoming competitions in the summer calendar and provide some dates for your diary where you might be able to see your local hunt in action.
Royal Artillery at Larkhill, Wilts – 23 April
This is usually the first competition on the inter-hunt relay circuit with up to 32 teams competing against each other. Some of the more-seasoned combinations often fill some of the team slots alongside newer combinations of horse and rider making their debut. Competitors can be forgiven for being a little ring-rusty after a season hunting however it’s usually the team that can be consistently quick and clear that secures the top spot! For further details contact email@example.com
Royal Windsor Horse Show, Berks – 12 May
With Windsor Castle in the background, this is one of the most prestigious venues for an inter-hunt relay competition. With a considerable cheque for the winning team it isn’t surprising that entries are often over-subscribed with hunts coming from all across the country to try to land the spoils.
Festival of Hunting, Peterborough – 20 July
A fiercely contested competition vying for the first prize of £1,000 takes place throughout the morning for the senior hunt teams — where one member of the team has to be over 45 years of age — followed by a very competitive junior inter-hunt relay in the same ring in the afternoon. As part of the Festival of Hunting, this is not only a great competition, but also a day out to see all types of hound and do some shopping in the trade stand area.
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Other opportunities to see hunt relay teams in action —
- 1-4 June Royal Bath & West Show, Somerset
- 9-11 June Royal Cornwall Show
- 9-11 June South of England Show, West Sussex
- 21-22 June Royal Cheshire County
- 9 July Barbury Castle, Wiltshire
- 12-14 July Great Yorkshire Show
- 18-21 July Royal Welsh Show