As I’m sure many of you know, the hunting season is in full swing at the moment and my social media is full of hunting photos every weekend.
Last week a farrier asked me if I was going hunting on the weekend. I replied “no” and he looked shocked. It’s not the first time people have looked at me as though I’m crazy for not going hunting.
It’s not that I’m against hunting as a sport; now it is all about chasing pre-laid scents or runners, over land that has been checked by the hunt master it is far more comparable to a large, fast sponsored ride. Years ago there was the anti-hunt movement, and yes both sides had valid points, but discussing them isn’t the object of my post. Every Boxing Day we used to hack into town for the meet – a great hack with my friends, and the contagious excitement of the little kids when they were allowed to go for the first time.
I have to say that hunting doesn’t appeal to me. Yes, I love going cross country and tackling big fences, but I think I am more of a calculating rider. On the cross country course my favourite fences are the questioning combinations. I like to walk the course, study the fences, find my lines, see what’s behind a jump (so I don’t get any nasty drop surprises). Perhaps I’m not brave or zealous enough to ride at a hedge, with no idea what the other side holds, whilst jostling for space and hoping the horse in front doesn’t stop. Of course, if you or your horse benefit from a lead over a fence, or are more likely to push outside your comfort zone jumping en masse then hunting is a great opportunity to do so.
I have another reason to not go hunting. Otis. Firstly, he is a total idiot in groups of more than three so I would spend the entire meet caprioling around, in desperate need of Velcro jodhpurs and a parachute. Secondly, I would worry about the risk of him injuring himself in deep going. I’m a bit of a worry wort about riding in deep mud or heavy going, which means my winter hacks are rather sedate and steady. Typically, his current injury occurred on hard ground …
I think a lot of the appeal of hunting is the social aspect. Which is probably why I’m not interested – we all know how antisocial I am. Just like the popular clique at school, I’m not part of the hunting brigade. Also, my idea of fun is a catch up in a small group over a cup of tea (preferably with cake) as opposed to a big party. Maybe hunting is for the extroverts?
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to be disparaging about hunting. It has it’s perks, and as you can see if you attend any meet, it is as popular as ever. I guess I’m just trying to say that it’s not for everyone and those of us who don’t partake usually have valid reasons and should be respected and not judged for them.