A-Hunting We Will Go

No photos of the event, so you get cute stock fox pictures!
When I moved Dino to our new barn a few months ago, I very quickly became fast friends with the woman who owns the farm. She is a lifelong foxhunter, and as we got to know each other and rode together more, she insisted that she was going to take us hunting.

On Friday night, Dino and I got our first taste of foxhunting, and you guys, it was SO MUCH FUN!

Unfortunately there is no photo or video evidence of the outing, because I didn't think it would be appropriate as the new kid to be snapping away with my cell phone. But trust me, it was awesome!

We attended a sort of pre-season event called roading - a way of getting the hounds, horses, and people fit for the season, and a great way to introduce newbies to the sport. The only fee I had to pay was to bring something for the potluck dinner afterwards, which was a nice bonus!

I was both nervous and excited getting ready for roading. Foxhunting has this mystique and aura of exclusivity about it, like a secret society. There are so many rules! What should I wear?! Will I do something offensive and embarrass myself?! Was my square saddle pad 'inappropriate'?! I felt like I was going to have dinner with the Queen of England and concerned about using the wrong fork.

At makes hunting seem very, very scary...
Thankfully my dear friend was there to introduce me to the Master (the guy or gal in charge) and some other members of the hunt, and there were quite a few riders there who were new to the club as well. She told me what to wear (tan breeches, black boots, and a white shirt with a collar) and was constantly whispering in my ear letting me know what was happening. (you aren't allowed to talk in the hunt field!)

Roading is also, blessedly, a very casual affair so I didn't have to worry so much about wearing, doing, or saying the wrong thing!

We arrived at our starting point and unloaded the horses, and I introduced myself to several people in our general vicinity. Once mounted, it wasn't long before the hounds were unloaded from their trailer - very, very close to where we were standing! My friend had wanted to stand us far away from the hounds at first so that Dino could watch them from a distance, but as the huge undulating, wagging, sniffing, wiggling wave of Hound came bounding off of the trailer there was no turning back. I was about to find out exactly how my pony felt about foxhounds.

Dino. Was. AWESOME.

He didn't spook, he didn't startle, he wasn't worried, he just stood stock still and watched the hounds with interest. Several ran practically right under his nose, and all he did was reach his muzzle down to them. I was patting him and saying "GOOD PONY! WONDERFUL PONY!" over and over again like a moron.

Soon everyone was mounted, and we were off! My friend rode right up to the front, directly behind the Whip (essentially the Master's assistant) and I followed as we took off trotting down the road and turned onto a mowed path through a huge field. There was nothing but farmland for miles and miles; an absolutely stunning part of New Jersey.

Since we were roading, not hunting, the hounds were kept together in a close pack instead of allowing them to fan out and catch a scent. The Master and a couple other huntsmen rode up front with the hounds, and the rest of us followed at a distance. Dino was enthralled by the whole experience and was absolutely amazing for his first time around the hounds and riding in a big group with horses coming close to him, touching him, and passing him constantly. Soon my friend dropped back towards the middle of the group to ride with another friend of hers, and told me to follow close to the Whip's horse - a steady, seasoned foxhunter that wouldn't kick my pony if he got too close. We stayed at the front of the field the entire time, and Dino had no trouble keeping up with the experienced hunt horses! The ride was done mostly at a quick trot, with some walking and a couple short canters. Dino got a bit strong once in a while, but nothing bad, and about halfway through the ride I was able to put him on the bit for short periods to get him to focus back on me when he got a little too excited. A few times he performed a rather lovely collected canter while the other horses were trotting ahead of him.

"I smell a fox..."
I was having an amazing time with a huge grin plastered on my face for the entire five miles! My pony was being incredible, I was in a beautiful place, the weather was perfect, and I was getting to experience something I never thought I'd get the chance to do. It was spectacular!

At one point, we came around into a big open field to see the Master no longer on his horse. He called my friend over to pony the horse home for him, but as the group started walking back to our starting point, the Master's horse pulled away and took off.


So, of course, here come my friend and Sully galloping like the lone ranger after this horse! It was truly impressive. Thankfully they caught him after a few minutes, but it definitely got very exciting for a while there. Dino, being the rockstar he is, stood quietly and just watched the whole scene unfold, even as other horses were getting antsy and anxious around him.

We ended the evening with some delicious food and drink, and I got the chance to chat with some really great people and make some new connections. It turns out that riding at the front of the field like we did our very first time out is kind of a big deal, and I felt totally confident the entire time, never worrying about being able to keep up or being overfaced. I'm sure that will change when we go on our first real hunt with more galloping and jumping, but I'd say our first foxhunting adventure was a resounding success! Dino was totally perfect and fantastic, I had an amazing time, and I can't wait to do more!


  1. Sounds like an awesome time! I think that foxhunters are second only to polo players or eventers for their hospitality- everyone at the hunt out here is super nice and ALWAYS down for a potluck!

    1. I was really not sure how they would receive me as a 'newcomer' since foxhunting just seems so... exclusive. But everyone was SO friendly and I had about three people trying to shove a margarita in my hand at the end of the ride!

  2. That sounds so cool! I'm jealous!

  3. This sounds badass! I want to take a EuroPony hunting!

  4. This sounds sooo much fun!! My trainer goes foxhunting pretty regularly in the fall and I'd love to take my girl out for a spin. Good Dino pony!!

  5. Welcome to the addiction! I think foxhunters get an elitist wrap (membership fees on top of horse-keeping fees?!), but I've never had anyone be rude to me. Even when I was doing puppy walks in JNCO jeans.

    1. Yeah especially in my area there is a lot of "old money" so I was a little nervous about that but everyone I met was great!

  6. You went first field on your FIRST foxhunting event?! Damn girl! You are amazeballs!

    We're just starting to do hound walking (trail ride around the hunt property w/ the hounds in front) and thankfully the only rules that apply are to wear a helmet. There's a potluck afterwards with everyone and just like the roading, all we have to bring is something to eat.

    The hunt club near me is so kind and generous and they host tons of hunter paces during the summer. One of my favorite horse people is a member and also boards at my barn, so I get lots of opportunities to ride with the club when I can. But yes, SO expensive to join. My SO about had a heart attack when I told him the fees for joining (but then again, so did I!)

    Yay, can't wait to hear about your next foxhunting adventure!

    1. I didn't even realize it was a big deal until we were driving home and talking about how everything went! She just sort of dropped me off at the front of the field and I just... rode.

      Yup hound walking sounds pretty much exactly like roading... this hunt is pretty formal all the time so there's a dress code for that too. We are trying to figure out a way that I can join as my friend's groom/stablehand which might be cheaper! I definitely am pumped for cubbing to start soon!!! I also feel like you live pretty close to me?? Or am I thinking of another Sarah with a red mare??

  7. Aw so jealous! There's a foxhunt that hooks up down the road from my barn. I have a desperate need to find out if Pig would be as stellar of a foxhunter as I think he would!

  8. ahhhh this is so cool and i am so super jealous!! there are so many hunt clubs around here hopefully i can try to do something similar :)

  9. Glad you had fun! Some of the most fun I've had with horses was with fox hunting :)

  10. How awesome! It sounds like such a good time, and Dino obviously loved it!!


Post a Comment

Popular Posts