I’m writing this on a Monday morning and I remember the sensation all too well: it’s exactly the same sense of despondency and nostalgic yearning I used to feel after a weekend’s clubbing in the late 80s. Only this time, it’s not an Acid House all-nighter I’m coming down from, but a day out with the “Chid and Lec”, better known as the Chiddingfold, Leconfield & Cowdray Hunt.
Gosh, what a fun meet. All I can think about is the instant friends I made that day.
When I arrived — as a guest of joint-master Robin Muir — I didn’t know any of them from Adam. But five hours of hard riding and gentle quaffing later, they felt like my dearest mates.
From the 90 or so who were at the meet to enjoy the lavishly generous whisky mac stirrup cups in front of FitzHall, home of Rupert and Louie Uloth, to the 20 knackered stalwarts who stuck it out to the end.
“No sex,” complained our field master, Paul just before our huntsman Adrian “Sage” Thompson blew for home. I thought this was hunt-speak for “not much action.” But it turned out I’d misheard him.
He’d said “No scent. They just can’t pick up the trails.” Which was a bit sad, really, because according to various informed sources who’d heard it from the great Nigel Peel MFH (who began his career with this hunt) we were hunting over some of the best scenting country anywhere in England.
Quite a bit of it was marsh. At times, it almost felt like being cavalry at Passchendaele. Everyone ended up so mud-spattered we looked like a herd of leopards. But despite the conditions and the lack of sport, we did seem to do an awful lot of insane galloping. This often involved some very slippery right angle turns on the edge of stubble fields that you’d never do if you weren’t hunting.
That’s why we all so love hunting, isn’t it? It’s a license to do naughty things.
Read the rest at Horse and Hound.