Hiring a hunter is a surefire way to enjoy a day’s hunting. Stephanie Bateman discusses the benefits and takes a look at a selection of hireling providers across the country
HIRING a hunter is a bit like renting a car for the day — it’ll get you reliably from A to B, it’s purpose-built for the job and you can hand it back at the end of the day without worrying about refuelling it and replacing the tyres. What’s not to like?
Whether your own horse is out of action or simply can’t hunt/ won’t hunt, or you don’t own a horse but want to be part of the action, hiring a hunter is the ideal solution.
With a variety of providers offering hirelings up and down the country, you’re sure to find a horse to meet your individual requirements. Of course, some hirers have better reputations than others, and it’s worth getting the nod of approval from a reliable source, such as the hunt secretary, but in general, most offer a good selection of quality horses to suit a variety of needs.
Most providers are able to accommodate novice and experienced riders, as well as most shapes and sizes. And it’s always best to be realistic about your own ability to ensure the right horse is offered. The last thing you want is to pay for a horse you can’t ride one side of.
A seasoned hireling will not only give you an enjoyable day (much less likely to leap about at the meet, run out at hunt jumps and bolt past the field-master), but they are also a much more practical financial option for some people. You don’t have the ongoing daily chore or expense of keeping, shoeing and feeding it — you simply turn up spotless at the meet and jump on board.
And when you’re finished, there is no unplaiting, hosing off, rugging, feeding — you get straight into your car and head home for a hot bath.
Most hunts know somebody local that they can recommend, so a call to the hunt secretary is a good starting point, especially if you are new to an area. But remember that the hireling fee will not include your cap or subscription — that will have to be paid for additionally.
Below, we’ve pulled together a list of reputable hireling providers from around the country, so all that’s left for you to do is pick up the phone and book a date. It is not an exhaustive list, merely a selection. Happy hunting!
NAME: Ollie and Rachael Finnegan (Leicestershire Hunter Sales)
LOCATION: Leicestershire PACKS: Cottesmore, Quorn, Belvoir, Fernie and Pytchley
CLIENTS CATERED FOR:
“We cater to everyone of all heights, sizes and abilities. We have a booking form that people fill in so that we can match the right horse to the rider. All our horses are for sale — we buy them from a reliable source in Ireland and they are hunted a few times before being sold. We buy eventing-type horses that are aged between five and eight years old with potential to do most jobs and then produce them up so they are well-schooled hunters.”
PRICE & PACKAGE: “We charge £225 for half a day, which takes
you to 2pm, or £400 for a full day with two horses. If it is a onehorse day and you use the same horse all day, it’s £275. Depending on the distance to the meet, there may also be a diesel cost on top.”
TOP TIP: “Be open about anything that happened out hunting, such as if the horse lost a shoe or picked up an injury, so that we can treat it and care for it accordingly. Also, if you feel the horse needs extra schooling in a certain area, say so.”
CONTACT: 07968 603246
NAME: Jack Thomas-Watson
LOCATION: Northumberland PACKS: Braes of Derwent, Tynedale, Morpeth, and the Percy.
CLIENTS CATERED FOR: “I have a wide selection of good hunters but I mostly cater for relatively
experienced riders rather than complete novices or beginners. Our horses range from 15.2hh upwards,” says Jack.
PRICE & PACKAGE: “I charge £180 flat day rate, but do offer horses by the hour, so the first hour is £100 and then £25 an hour thereafter because not everyone wants to stay out all day.”
TOP TIP: “Ask for a neckstrap and bring your own stirrups that are already set to your own length because it saves a lot of time and hassle.”
CONTACT: 07506 677245
NAME: Jill Carenza
LOCATION: Broadway, Worcestershire/Gloucestershire border
PACKS: Duke of Beaufort, Warwickshire, Ledbury, North Cotswold, Heythrop, Berkeley, Cotswold
CLIENTS CATERED FOR:
“We offer a variety of horses for people who haven’t hunted before, middle-of-the-road riders and more experienced riders. We have ponies for smaller adults and children too. Most of our horses are Irish sport horses that I buy as young horses from Ireland and educate.”
PRICE & PACKAGE: “The price for a horse for half a day is £245 and that’s until 2.30pm. If they want a second horse, it’s an extra £200. I offer a discount to people who block-book horses for a number of days throughout the season.”
TOP TIP: “I always prefer people to come here and be assessed at the stables before going hunting so that I can match them with the correct horse.”
CONTACT: 07824 469472
NAME: Karen Bamford
LOCATION: Northamptonshire, Warwickshire, Oxfordshire borders
PACKS: Bicester with Whaddon Chase, Warwickshire, Grafton, Pytchley, Heythrop, Cottesmore, Fernie
CLIENTS CATERED FOR:
“We have a variety of horses aimed at riders with some experience of hunting.”
PRICE & PACKAGE: “The price depends on what the client wants and which pack they are hunting with, but a standard day-rate for half a day (11am-2.30pm) starts at £200.”
TOP TIP: “We give every newbie a questionnaire to help us work out what level and experience of rider they are so we know which horse will suit them. If anything, underestimate your own abilities. Listen to what the hirer tells you about that specific horse — they know the horse better than you.”
CONTACT: 07786 164478
NAME: Lesley Douglas
(Langlee Riding Stables)
PACKS: Duke of Buccleuch’s, Jed Forest, Lauderdale, Berwickshire
CLIENTS CATERED FOR: “Our horses range from cobs to bigger Irish draught types and we also
have ponies that we hire for hunting too,” says Lesley. “They are mostly Irish-bred horses, and experienced hunters.”
PRICE & PACKAGE: “Our day rate is £190 for the day and that’s until 3.30pm.”
CLIENT QUOTE: “If you don’t ride regularly or haven’t ridden for a long time, despite being experienced, I’d suggest getting a few rides in beforehand at your local riding school so that you aren’t too out of practice and are fit enough to ride for four or five hours.”
CONTACT: 07789 266233
NAME: Roger Rimmer (Kentonwood Stables) LOCATION: Merseyside PACKS: Cheshire, Cheshire Forest, Sir WW Wynn’s, and North, South Shropshire and the Flint and Denbigh
CLIENTS CATERED FOR: “We have a variety of horses to cater for everybody of all ages and abilities, heights and sizes,” says Roger.
“We have thrusters’ horses to quieter ones, and they range from 15hh upwards.”
PRICE & PACKAGE: “The price and package depends on the pack you are hunting with — some hunts require two horses a day and others only one,” explains Roger. “I will do deals for two horses in a day and numerous days in a week. Prices start from £200 for one horse and £380 for two. I also do deals for groups.”
TOP TIP: “It costs the same to travel one horse to a meet as it
does two or more, so ask for deals on groups of more than one horse if you want to go hunting with a group of friends.”
CONTACT: 07836 558249
NAME: David and Billy Thomas
LOCATION: Llandrindod Wells PACKS: Radnor & West Hereford, North Hereford, Ludlow, Golden Valley, Teme Valley, United
CLIENTS CATERED FOR: “I have five horses ranging from a 15hh cob to a 17hh eventer so I can supply horses for most, although our country isn’t suited to a complete beginner as it’s very hilly and you need a fairly good seat,” Billy says.
PRICE & PACKAGE: “I charge £130 for a horse for the full day. I’m usually out until the end of the day on my own horse, so there isn’t a time limit.”
CLIENT QUOTE: “One of my stipulations is that people riding my horses must have their own insurance and I recommend people take out insurance even if it isn’t required. Hunting is dangerous and it’s better to be covered than not.”
CONTACT: 07790 528396
NAME: Phil and Heather Roberts (Exmoor Hunter Hirelings) LOCATION: south-west PACKS: Devon & Somerset, Dulveton West, Dulveton Farmers, Exmoor, and West Somerset, Quantock Staghounds,
CLIENTS CATERED FOR: “We have horses to suit everybody,” says Phil. “They all have fantastic mouths and don’t pull, from cobs up to 17.3hh. Our horses are all experienced and tough as old boots.”
PRICE & PACKAGE: “Our set day-rate is £220 from 11am until the end of the day. We deliver the horse to the meet and if you need someone to come along with you for support, we can organise that, as well as hotels.”
TOP TIP: “Be very honest about your ability and don’t be put off by the word hireling — our horses
are experienced hunters who know their job and will give you a good day.”
CONTACT: 01643 831117
NAME: Sue Clarke (Timbertops Equestrian Centre)
LOCATION: West Yorkshire PACKS: Badsworth & Bramham
Moor, Rockwood Harriers, York & Ainsty (North), York & Ainsty (South)
CLIENTS CATERED FOR: “We offer a variety of types, sizes and abilities of horses,” says Sue. “We run a riding school and I also supply horses for film production so our horses are very experienced and bombproof, and used to carrying a range of riders and doing different things. We also supply ponies for smaller adults and children.”
PRICE & PACKAGE: “The dayrate is £180 and that is until around 3pm.”
TOP TIP:“Give some indication Hiring a horse allows you to see a totally different hunting country of if and where you have hunted, what country you’ve crossed and what type of horses you’re used to riding so we can match you up with the right horse.”
CONTACT: 07714 675197.
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