The sport of Fox Hunting seemed an elitist event to me. Until the day I joined the hunt. I, then, became an elitist member, or so I felt, of an exclusive club. Yeah, I remember it well.
We arrived on the farm where we would soon depart to chase the ever wily fox. Horses tucked in the trailer, we, dressed in our finest riding apparel.
Men, who had achieved a certain ranking wore red jackets. Women always wore a more subdued color of your basic black, navy blue or dark tweed. I had scrounged in our attic to locate my old showing jacket. Miracle of miracles it still fit.
I watched, my eyes glazed with the heady scent of horse sweat, hay, manure, and nerves.
Nerves? Nah…probably just mine.
My horse, Buddy; a former event horse, jigged about while I tacked him up. He was excited.
David’s horse, Diddy, stood perfectly calm. Humph.
We mount up and join the other riders.
I notice many horses’ have very severe looking bits in their mounts. Hmmm.
The hounds are released from the truck and in my delight I say “oh what cute doggies!”
“They are hounds, NOT doggies.” I was told by one very stiff upper lipped woman, who than briskly trotted off.
Ok, then. Oops. Rule # 1 broken
Buddy, my TBxQH thought it was a good idea to run on ahead. I knew if he had one good run he would calm down.
As everyone else trotted down the road with the “hounds” I let Buddy have a run.
I smile at everyone and say hello as I fly by. Hey…no-one told me I was not supposed to canter off and no-one told me I was definitely not allowed to pass the Field Master. Oops Rule #2 broken.
As we enter a vastly large field with several jumps the hounds take off, as does everyone else.
Oh, so now I get it. When the “hounds” run I’m allowed to run.
Riders and horses jump fence after fence.
My heart is slowly climbing up my throat. My jumping days are long over. I don’t mind jumping over the occasional little tree limb out on a hack, or a little stream but these jumps are HUGE.
So I start yelling “David, can Buddy jump that fence?” You are not supposed to yell. Oops Rule #3 broken.
Buddy, at this point was becoming really pissed off with me. I would attempt to steer him around the jumps and find another way around. Ah-ha. Now I understood why those severe bits were in all those horses mouths. Damn.
My beloved…NOT…former event horse clamped down on the bit, aimed straight for a coop, which looked to be bigger than my garage and let fly. I remembered enough skill to be in the right position but did not remember to keep my mouth shut!!! “SHIT!”
I opened my eyes as we landed on the other side of the coop. Funny, I did come with a saddle. Where the hell is it? Oh…it is behind me. As I scramble to shove myself back in my saddle and ignore the searing pain in my crotch I’m actually feeling quite accomplished.
Again I was told by another stiff upper lipped woman, if I am not going to jump I need to get out-of-the-way for other rider’s. Don’t dawdle. Oops Rule #4 broken.
The horn sounds. We are at a “check.” A place to stop, gather the hounds, decide where to go next, and share a sip from a flask.
David rides up next to me. “Are you having fun?” he asks with a twinkle in his eye
Sweat is running down my face, Buddy is soaked, and breathing hard. “Give me the damn flask.”
“Why didn’t you tell me there are so many fucking rules?”
David dares to chuckle “You’re so cute, I figured you’d get it. And you do have to apologize to the Field Master for galloping past him.”
“Do not hush me. I do not like this game. I want to go home.”
“Well, Ok, and you have to ask the Field Master for permission to leave the field.”
Of all the nonsense.
I took a deep breath, sat up straight in my saddle, wincing a little with my throbbing crotch, and walk Buddy to the Field Master.
“Good Morning.” he said
“Good Morning. I would like to apologize for galloping past you.”
“Well,” he said,” How was it for you? Because from my position I had a great view of your back side.”
With my mouth gaping open I remembered rule # 3. No yelling.
“I am asking permission to leave the field.”
He laughed. “I don’t think so. You are adding life to the party.”
” I have learned quite a lot today. There are many rules to this sport and on that note all I have to say is fuck them all…I’m outta here.”
I turned tail, smiled to everyone, waved to David and rode back to the trailer.
Yup…I went back. Several times. I did get the hang of it.
And never really abided by the rules.
I’m such a rebel.