with Horse and Hound

How I Came to Go Foxhunting

NormanMost of us didn’t wake up one morning and say to ourselves, “I think I’ll go foxhunting today.” It just doesn’t happen that way. Some come to the hunting field through long-time family experience. Others are encouraged by a friend. For others—you  romantics—it’s the fulfillment of a dream.

Surely there are other reasons which only you can tell, so here’s your chance. This is the first in a series of upcoming blogs that were suggested by Steve Price, a member of FHL’s Panel of Experts. The series will be rooted in one of the most enchanting sentences in the English language: “Tell me a story.”

I’ll tell you mine. Then you can tell us yours.

I was a young adult taking riding lessons at Elm Brook Farm in Concord, Massachusetts. The owner and chief instructor was Nick Rodday, a Pied Piper sort of fellow that attracted—besides horse crazy children—a following of adults as well to his stable. With his handsome face and beautiful tenor singing voice, he should have been Irish, but he wasn’t.

For any adult that wanted to learn to ride and jump, improve his or her skills, or just have a great time on a horse, Elm Brook Farm was the place to be every Tuesday and Thursday evening. The group lesson started at seven, the school horses were capable, and a late snack at Howard Johnson’s completed the evening’s ritual.

For me, simply riding a horse was the fulfillment of a dream. As a child, I knew no one who rode or owned a horse, yet I was entranced by horses. Before I could write my name I was drawing pictures of horses. Where did it come from? I often wondered. I’m now convinced that it’s genetic. At any rate, the acquisition and improvement of my riding skills were the limits of my horizons at Elm Brook Farm.

During the summer, Nick put on one or two schooling shows in which most of his pupils were encouraged to participate. After I had ridden in a couple of classes at my very first show (on one of the nicer school horses, I should add), a man came up to me and introduced himself.

“I’m the Master of a new hunt, the Nashoba Valley Hunt,” he said.

I had no idea where this might be leading.

“You have a nice seat,” he continued.

Suddenly I was getting suspicious of where this might be leading. I was wrong…fortunately.

“You should come and hunt with us this fall,” he said.

And that’s how it started.

Incidentally and parenthetically, I know many Masters who are constantly looking for ways to increase membership in their hunts. Well, that’s just what this Master was trying to do at the time, and I’m here to guarantee that his method worked!

How did you come to go hunting for the first time? Tell us a story.

Posted June 14, 2011