with Horse and Hound

What Do Foxhunters Do in the Summertime?

norman.woffordJim Wofford photoWe all rue the end of the foxhunting season in March. And now that the point-to-point season has ended and the final hound show of the year is only a few days away, what to do until September?

Well, after crying over the season’s end, we all seem to find a lot to do. Sometimes it’s just the same old things that produce the familiar rhythm of the year’s cycle. I’m always anxious to get my tomato plants in and toil away for what sometimes results in a rewarding harvest and other times ends in a tangle of limp and barren vines. No matter. I do it again the following year with renewed hope.

A young lady farmer nearby has started a local cooperative for her naturally grown produce. I paid my twenty dollars to join, and each Friday I receive an e-mail listing all the fresh produce that’s ready to pick, all priced by the bunch. I place my order by return e-mail by Monday, the veggies are picked on Tuesday, and I pick them up that afternoon. Fresh garden vegetables all week long—another of summer’s delights!

Last Friday night my hunt had an evening trail ride followed by dinner on the Master’s patio. It was a pleasant and balmy evening out-of-doors in good company. Can’t do that in February!

Yesterday we had our annual horse show—another periodic event in the cycle. It was a lovely day, so the entries were good, and we made some much needed money. Some years, though, it pours down with rain, the show is a washout, and we sorely miss that little chunk of hoped-for revenue. The annual cycle may be regular, but it’s never the same!

Our Foxhunting Life webmaster, Cheryl, gets into horse trialing with her field hunter. Others go horse showing, take summer riding trips to Ireland, Africa, and other exotic places. Some foxhunters even get married!

I have friends that think they can make an angler of me, so I practice my fly casting on the back lawn. In my maturity, I’ve arrived at not only a graceful acceptance of the immutable 365-day circumnavigation of the sun, but a lively anticipation and thorough appreciation of the unique offerings of each segment of the journey.

On the other hand, those of you that haven’t yet achieved this philosophical peace can look at it this way. It’s June now. In early August, less than two months from now, you will be getting serious about legging up your hunters for the new season. You may even join your huntsman and staff exercising hounds on the roads. In other words, you can be following hounds in less than eight weeks! And I will be, too!

Posted June 5, 2011