How many people do you know who have taken a sudden interest in all things hunting because they’ve fallen for a member of hunt staff, a master or someone else on the hunting field? Maybe they want to impress them with their hunting knowledge or they could just want to let the person in question know that they exist.
To celebrate Valentine’s Day today, we look at some of the tell-tale signs of what is known in hunting circles as scarlet fever…
1. Taking a sudden interest in hounds on a hunting day — perhaps by asking their names and enquiring about breeding — when previously the focus of the day has been on the contents of others’ hip flasks or the number of fences jumped.
2. Practising their horn blowing techniques in order to impress at their hunt’s annual competition.
3. Offering to walk hound puppies even though they have never done it before and knowing it could wreak havoc on their garden — but at least it means the huntsman will pop round with hound food when they are running low.
4. Taking more consideration over their hunting attire and appearance. An increased level of make-up might also be evident.
5. Turning up at every known hunt fundraising event from skittles matches to hunt pantos. Volunteering to horse catch at point-to-points is a dead giveaway.
6. Becoming sudden friends with the stud groom and popping into the stables on the off chance of bumping into a member of hunt staff, while getting to know the names of all the hunt horses so they can casually be slipped into conversation.
7. Keeping an eye open so they are ready to dash — at the first opportunity — to open a gate for hunt staff or masters or to hold their horse if they have to get off.
8. Appearing out hunting at meets they’ve never been seen at before, even if miles from home and in terrible weather conditions, just to be able to ride alongside or near the desired person.
9. Suddenly hunting with a different pack — often at vast expense — in order to get the opportunity of hunting with, or alongside, the eye candy of choice.
10. Buying auction items such as “a day in the master’s/huntsman’s/whipper-in’s pocket” in order to get up close and personal.
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11. Immediately offering their own horse to the master or a member of hunt staff if their horse loses a shoe or goes lame.
12. Begging, borrowing or stealing horses so they can hunt more days of the week than ever before and staying out with hounds to the end of the day when previously they’ve been home by 2.30pm.