Fox Hunting Life with Horse and Hound

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Foxhunters love to travel! If you have a good travel story, share it with FHL. Click on How to Submit.

Hunt Week at Lowcountry

lowcountry.LoriAuthor and Oz midst the Spanish moss, away down south

This trip was to be the first vacation I have been on for a long time, thanks mostly to our “special” naked cat Alf. With a tendency to occasionally attempt to have sex with a sleeper’s head, hallucinate, or attack without provocation, there are no house sitters lining up for the job of caring for him in our absence. Likewise, no family members or friends. Prozac or no Prozac. That, along with my employer’s— Kaiser Permanente’s—death sentence for time taken off, has us often traveling separately, if at all.

Staying home has not been a hardship since I am happiest at home, but with our horrific winter this year, this nervous traveler headed south on a trip I had watched people enjoy without me for several years. The bastards.

Foxhunters on Horseback: Exploring Dartmoor

IMG 2943(Front to back) The author, Rosie Campbell, MFH, Live Oak huntsman Spencer Allen, his father Chris Allen, and two friends explore Dartmoor National Park, with Liberty Trail hosts Elaine and Robert Prior.

The first morning there was heavy mist across the moors, and visibility was limited. What I could see looked exactly like I imagined a scene from Hound of the Baskervilles or Jamaica Inn. Ghostly hedges revealed hidden farmyards, complete with thatched roof cottages and low barns.

We had come to Dartmoor National Park in Exeter, England to ride across the famous moors for a couple of days before continuing onto Devon and Cornwall. Rosie Campbell, MFH of Bull Run Hunt (VA), her husband Chris Allen and son-in-law Spencer Allen, and my husband Michael and I had driven down to Bovey Castle from London on Tuesday. It had been cool, with some showers, and by 4:00 pm we met in the lovely sitting room for a traditional Devon cream tea. Delicious and decadent. We had it only once! Buttery biscuits, topped with berry jam and then the cream, which really looks like butter, is so good.

Bovey Castle is a luxurious spa in the heart of Dartmoor and caters to hunting and fishing activities of all sorts. They have partnered with Liberty Trails, the equine brainchild of Elaine and Robert Prior, which offers riding holidays across these moors made famous by Sherlock Holmes and more recently, Stephen Spielberg's movie, War Horse.

Hedge-Hopping in England

My top moment of any Blackthorn & Brook holiday comes as our guests pull up after a run having encountered their first hedge. They make a fuss of their horse, turn to me and grin.

“I see what you mean about sitting up!” is a recurring comment.

Hedge-hopping is a much discussed feature of our holidays. The subject is met with excitement, trepidation, anticipation, fear, bravado, and everything in between, as it really is an unknown quantity for the majority of our American guests.

With this in mind, we have put together a short video and accompanying blog below, explaining a little of how we prepare ourselves and our horses for popping the hedges in style. What follows is a collection of basic principles that work for us. If anyone has questions or comments—challenges, improvements, ideas—we'd love to hear from you.

A Dream Fulfilled


bb.deb1(l-r) Megan, Deb, and Marti

The inspiration for this trip happened quite by accident. While traveling with cousins in the southwestern part of England in May of 2012 , we happened to stop for a Sunday roast at the pub in the tiny hamlet of Highclere Castle, the home of the wonderful television series, Downton Abbey.

We had missed, by a day, a trail ride on the grounds of the castle. My cousin Marti and I have taken many riding trips and are always looking for a new adventure. We began to dream of a trip in England where we would ride in some of the places that we had read about all of our lives in English novels but had never seen. As we visited the Exmoor and the Dartmoor, the haunts of wild ponies and the characters of Daphne du Maurier, we became more excited. We did not, however, have any idea how to accomplish our vision.

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