with Horse and Hound

Reliable Staff Horses Don’t Grow On Trees

andy bozdan.carla babcock.smallCamargo Huntsman, Andy Bozdan / Carla Babcock photoI guess I shouldn’t be surprised that some folks think of the staff horse that the huntsman or whipper-in is riding as just another horse. So before all the ‘egg spurts’ chime in, let me explain a little about the staff horse. Just imagine getting a jumping racehorse fit and ready for a race—weeks and months of preparation and hardening plus schooling over fences until the day arrives and the horse is off to the races.

Now think about getting a horse, if not racing fit, then pretty darn close to it, and not having one big race every couple of weeks but going out maybe twice a week and running for four to five hours. And in all weather, fair or foul. In the case of the huntsman, keeping up with hounds no matter the obstacles faced; in the case of the whipper-in, staying with or even getting on ahead of hounds in the ordinary course of the job. The staff horse puts in many more miles on a hunting day than does the field hunter. That is what’s required of it. No options.

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