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Introduction to hunting in the New Forest

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

EMAIL: nfhhonsec@hotmail.com
 

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