During the main hunting season, which
typically runs from early November to the end of February, the hunt
will meet Tuesday and Saturday mornings at 10.45am. The meet will
either be in a forest car park, or it will be by invitation at a
private house, hotel or pub. These are referred to as lawn meets, and
it is customary at these for participants to enjoy a small tipple
before setting off.
Once the meet is over, usually after 20-30mins, the huntsman will
sound his horn and move off with hounds to the first covert where he
will cast his hounds and encourage them to search for their quarry.
Sometimes a the trail may be found immediately and the chase begins
in earnest, or the huntsman may have to move on from covert to
covert, recasting his hounds several times before a trail is found.
The unpredictability of hunting is one of the elements that adds to
its appeal. Once the hounds are on a scent, they "give tongue" or
"make music", and once the hounds have left the covert, the field
master will lead the mounted field in hot pursuit. Once on a run the
control which the huntsman has over his hounds, and the respect and
trust the hounds have in the huntsman, is a pleasure to behold. A run
may be brief and fast if scent is good, or it may be long and slow
with hounds having to work hard to keep on the line. In any event the
huntsman will re-cast and the day will go on until 3 or 4pm.
depending on how strenuous the day has been - though of course anyone
can pull out at any time and head for home.
CAN I ONLY ENJOY HUNTING IF I CAN RIDE?
Quite simply - no. There are probably as many keen followers off
horses as on them who come out regularly. To the consternation of the
mounted field they very often seem to follow the hunt as ably as
them! Foot followers not only come out on hunting days, but also
participate in all the other aspects of running the hunt. For
everyone who wants more than just a days sport, the hunt has a very
active social calendar run by the supporters club which is an
invaluable and intrinsic part of the New Forest Hounds.
MUST I BE
AN EXPERT RIDER?
Horses love to hunt and you will experience a ride impossible to
simulate elsewhere, and almost impossible to describe. The ride will
be challenging but well within the capabilities of any reasonably
experienced horse rider. You will also find that your companions in
the field will support and encourage you, and you will soon feel at
ease. In the New Forest we have very little jumping other than the
odd ditch or fallen tree, and these are usually optional, but the
open countryside and freedom from roads is unique in this area.
HOW DO I START?
Whether you want to come on horseback or on foot, just telephone one
of the joint secretaries listed below. They will tell you all you
need to know - where the meets are, what you need to wear, what it
will cost etc.
Don't be intimidated - it is quite untrue that hunting is exclusive
to the so called "upper classes" - we are a very friendly hunt and if
we cannot guarantee you the most exciting day of your life - though
it just might be - we can assure you of a very warm welcome.
Call one of the joint hon. secretaries
PENNY RENDLE: tel: 01202 478597; mobile: 0777 5722795
Dr GRAHAM FERRIS: tel: 01590 682002