There are three subjects that we may try to avoid but always seem to make it into everyday conversation — politics (national or hunt), the weather and health.
Politics is clearly a hot topic; with a general election on the horizon, there is much to think about. There is no doubt in my mind as to which way I am voting. It is very clear to me that there is only one party that supports our rural way of life. For that reason there is much we can all do to help it in whatever way that we can, to shore up the future of our wonderful countryside and all that goes on within it.
A political storm may be brewing, but the weather, too, has been rather unseasonable over the past couple of weeks.
Normally we huntsmen are looking for any excuse as to why the scenting conditions are not as good as they should be. A lack of moisture and the falling of leaves during November normally offers the answer, but this certainly has not been the case this year.
Pictures and videos flowed on social media of opening meets under water and people’s valiant efforts actually to get the meets, let alone survive the freezing downpours that took place throughout the day.
I can’t remember ever being as wet and cold as we have been over the past few weeks and it’s only still the start of the season. Despite this, hunting goes on with the support of all our amazing farmers and landowners.
Only ‘man flu’ is worse
The last of those three perennial topics — health — and an answer to that polite question, “How are you?” Well, the truth is that I missed my first day’s hunting in 22 years not so long ago due to a bad back. Obviously “man flu” can be the only thing worse.
I suppose the reality is that I hadn’t realised a few simple things. Firstly, that all huntsman are extreme athletes, but clearly do not look after their bodies like all other professional sportsmen — I’m not too sure when any of us last went to the gym. After all, we all ride a bike in the summer — that will do, surely?
Second, the importance of a well-balanced diet. Personally I find it hard to eat a big breakfast before hunting and tend to hold out for the delicious goodies offered at the meet, toasties being a personal favourite. Water is all-important according to my physio — whiskey and milk apparently is not his idea of proper hydration!
Finally, I suddenly realised that I’m getting older and my body is not as indestructible as it was when I was 21. Apparently maintenance is required to keep it in top form, so a regime of stretching, Pilates and weekly trips to the physio are now part of my new life as a professional athlete.
Next time you are standing at the meet gazing at your huntsman, just think of all the many hours he puts in to keeping himself in peak condition…
Ref Horse & Hound; 28 November 2019