BY ANNA BOWEN
Hunts are all different, but some people are the same. These characters, from my experience, are the types of Hunt followers you’re likely to meet in the field:
1. The Ex-Racehorse Addict
Carly bought Squidge for £2 from Ascot sales last month. All is going well, apart from the awkward moment at opening meet when he mistook the rolling lawns of Deadbear Hall for the start of the 3.20 at Goodwood.
2. The Huntsman Who Can’t Ride
Derek loves hounds. Legend has it that he was raised by a hound bitch named Anthea. Unfortunately he likes horses a little less, but fortunately the hunt have found Dobbin.
3. The Galloping Dowager
No one knows quite how old she is, but she was evidently hunting in 1896, and she took to riding astride before anyone else- so that she could chase potential husbands over the hedges of the Quorn. Some say that she cut off her hair and became a cavalry officer in the First World War, that may be a rumour, but its true that she thinks her daughter-in-law Florence is a ninny.
4. The London Commuter
His terrible posture reveals his life spent hunched in the boardroom. With Nancy shagging the yoga instructor and the twins (Lentil and Snowdrop) recently expelled from prep school for painting the walls with organic humus, hunting is his only escape. Never the less you’ll see his iPhone lighting up in his pocket as New York chase him to close a deal.
5. The Hunt Historian
“I remember when we went from here in ’62. We galloped for twenty miles from Badger Bottom Manor to Hedgehog Court. Major Jennings fell off half way round and broke his neck but we just tightened his stock and stuck him back on.”
6. The Nervous Rider
Harry doesn’t really want to hunt, but the Galloping Dowager is his Grand-mama and as such he has to. You’ll find him drinking a bottle of sloe gin and nervously searching for the best place to be sick.
7. The Horse and Hound Desperado
Sara comes to three meets a season- Opening Meet, Boxing Day and whichever meet brings the H&H journalist. She may drag out Granny’s side-saddle for Boxing Day, but once the local paper has been and gone its back astride for an hour and then home to do some sales shopping.
8. The Mad Child
Merrylegs may only be 12.2hh (in shoes) but that doesn’t stop him clearing every hedge in the country. His rider aspires to be a jockey and can generally be found giving the London Commuter a lead over a tricky bullfinch.
9. The Selfie Stick
Asher had a selfie stick for Christmas and it comes to every meet. She has screen-touch gloves. Only seen in certain parts of Wales and the West Country
10. The Instructor
Be afraid, be very afraid. A former DC, the Pony Club said no more after she made little Fenella run around the rally field for forgetting her hairnet. In the hunting field she tells you how to ride, and tells you off for going home early.
11. The Scarlet Fever Victim
“Good morning master”
“Good morning Miss Jones”
And they both smile because last night Miss Jones rode the MFH to five orgasms while Mrs MFH polished boots in the tack room.
12. The Pony Club Mum
Once upon a time Florence had a great time hunting. Now she is stuck with two under-tens, their beastly ponies, and a pocket full of Haribo to keep them sweet. Her mother-in-law thinks that the girls would learn best if left to their own devices, but Florence doesn’t quite have the heart to make them compete with Merrylegs.
13. Look at the Dogs
Ellie and Johnny have always wanted to live in the countryside and keep their horses at home. Hunting is so much fun and aren’t the doggies cute? Shame that Fergus kicked one.
14. The Point to Point Jockey
Tim owns five identical plain bay pointers, so its pretty hard to know which really have qualified and which haven’t. He rides with his knees somewhere near his chest and carries a racing whip. The Mad Child aspires to be him, the young ladies of the pack have mostly had him.
15. The Gentleman Farmer
His horse is seventeen hands high, dappled grey and pure Irish Draught. Resplendent in his red coat (he was MFH for a few seasons in the 80s) he steps out like something from a Stubbs painting.
16. The Absolute Brick
The hunt really would fold without her. Field Marshall of the foot followers, she has a flask of “something naughty” and one of tea, a car full of spare shooting coats, and a copy of the meet card. Runs the supporters club and has several offspring out in the field. Accompanied by a Labrador and several terriers.
17. The Tumble Club Celebrity
Cedric has fallen off so many times its rumoured that he does it on purpose. Just last week the Countryside Alliance tweeted a photo of him covered in mud after he took a swim in a ditch.
18. The Ciren Student
“Yaaah, so I was like at a ball last night and I am like, sooo hungover.”
19. The Hunt Gossip
Anything you need to know? Anything you have to share? They know everything; they’ve even heard that you were seen coming out of the kennel man’s house last Wednesday, which is more than you knew yourself.
20. The Hound Expert
“Aye, that’s Foxglove she’s a new entry this season but her grandfather was champion at Peterborough and I delivered her mother in that terrible storm.”
Knows the name and lineage of every hound while everyone else is pointing them out as “the big one with the brown face”.
21. The Terrier Man
At first you thought he was speaking a special language, secret between him and his tiny yapping charges. Then you realise that he has a regional accent. Wears camouflage, drives a quad bike. Do not say that his fiercest bitch is “really cute”.
22. The Alcoholic
Yes that is a second hip flask. Yes it is sloe gin infused with vodka. Yes they did drink ten ports at the meet.
23. The Happily Married Huntsman
Despite the best intentions of his horrid ex (he’s sending half his wages to support their son, and also dealing with monthly Facebook rants about his absentee parenting) the Happy Huntsman is happily married to his darling wife. The marriage works because he lives vicariously through the lives of Tim the Point to Point Jockey and the Hunt F*****y. Spends most hunt socials consoling girls with broken hearts and positive STI test results.
24. The Dreadful Amateur Whip
Carries a massive whip that he brandishes everywhere like a cowboy with a lassoo. Shouts the hounds’ names just to prove that he knows them.
25. The Hunt Busybody
Chills out at the back on a big cob, mostly as an excuse to see everything that is happening. Definitely spotted the foxy visitor squeezing the second whip’s thigh, and will tell everyone about it over post- hunting soup. Tries to tell hunt staff what is going on, but gets it all wrong because they were too busy eavesdropping on the chairman’s chat with the treasurer about unpaid subs and rumours that the huntsman is thinking of resigning.
26. The Overworked Field Master
It is 1pm and half the field are a mile away, building jumps and filming falls on their iPhones. The Air Ambulance has already collected one unlucky rider, a notorious kicker is out sans ribbon and is trying to ride at the front, and the children are all too busy swapping sweets to volunteer with the day’s 57 gates. Oh and their horse has lost a shoe, and the radio is blaring with static, interrupted only by loud swearing in a Valleys accent as the terrier men announce that the quad has run out of petrol at the bottom of a ravine.
27. The Hunt Prefect
Was born in immaculate cream breeches, stock perfectly tied, and lips curved to bid “Good morning Master.” Writes ranting posts on the hunt Facebook about appalling etiquette, screenshots photos of poor turnout, and once reduced a newcomer to tears when they slipped and called a hound a dog.
28. The Sexy Side Saddle Lady
Turns up with veil stretched over her perfect features, bespoke habit showing off her 24 inch waist and substantial pay cheque (no, Daddy does not pay for her hunting). Rides faster and harder than any of the men, more than happy to show under her apron, but far too classy to make an innuendo about it. That is until she’s off the field; when you spend all day with two heads between your thighs, at night you want… Okay that is too crude even for this post. The men of the field are generally too intimidated to go anywhere near her, but many a hunt ball is spent dreaming of seducing her.
29. The Hunt F*****y
The old ladies of the committee are all a bit confused about why their favourite rider is still single. After all, he treats plenty of girls to a day’s hunting, so its such a shame that they all leave him. Little do they know that he’s normally frantically arranging visits so that none of the girls meet. Spends half the day on his phone, swiping right on Tinder, inviting his “main” girl for a romantic supper, sexting his side piece, and keeping the Happily Married Huntsman and his sidekick Tim updated on his goings on. Dreams of one day wearing a scarlet coat, helps out at kennels so that some of his guests can hunt for free. Of course, they have to pay him in kind.
30. The Solo Rider
Leaves the field at precisely 11.05am to “do my own thing.” The good sort keep out of trouble and are always in the right spot to see hounds work. The bad sort push past the Field Master, leave gates open, cut up some winter cereals, and ride across hounds.
31. The Hunt Ball Organiser
Starts advertising the hunt ball at meets two months before the date. A week before is still begging people to pay up, especially the terrier men who have ten seats booked for themselves and the local foot pack, but have paid nothing and are all claiming that their phones don’t work. Spends the day of the ball blowing up balloons, crying over the wine list, and dealing with frantic phone calls from the MFH who has just realised that both his wife and leggy girl groom mistress would like to sit on his right hand side.
32. The Scruffy One
Wears wellies and breeches tied up with baler twine, and one of those showjumping hats with a silver vent. Their horse has a bright red saddle cloth and a bridle without a nose-band. Very keen for a swig of port, and always has a knife, some spare baler twine, and some farriery tools.
33. The Hunting Slag
No, not THAT type of slag. Has visited every pack of the country in the search of The Perfect Hunt. Their bank manager is not impressed with the amount they are paying for visitor’s cap.
34. The Newcomer
Phones the secretary twenty times to get everything right. Calls the huntsman “master” by (easy) mistake at the meet and spends all day feeling embarrassed. Has adorned their horse with green ribbons and hacked at the ribbons on their own riding hat. Pays subs within a fortnight and is on the supporters’ committee by the AGM.
35. The Vintage Follower
There’s no mistaking that standards have slipped, and the mounted followers of today have no idea what it is to ride to hounds. Drives in a car with the Hunt Historian, but may actually have a Facebook account, which he used for sharing vintage photographs and complaining about wire, skylarking, modern hounds, farmers, cars, and the sausage rolls served at meets.
36. The Foot Pack Native
Dragged out by his wife, Dai would rather be out with his beloved local foot pack. He spends the day bitching with the terrier men, laughing at the mounted field, jumping out of the way of the horses, and telling the hunt staff that his pack of hounds would leave theirs in the dust at a joint meet.