Pay-as-you-go hunt­ing

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

Horse & Hound - - Hunting -

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


“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

(Cotswolds Rid­ing)

LO­CA­TION: Broad­way, Worces­ter­shire/Glouces­ter­shire bor­der

PACKS: Duke of Beau­fort, War­wick­shire, Led­bury, North Cotswold, Heythrop, Berke­ley, Cotswold


“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


“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)

LO­CA­TION: Scot­land

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.

Jump­ing for fun: many hirelings are qual­ity, well-schooled horses

Why have the has­sle of get­ting your horse ready, when you can just turn up and get on?

One of the great­est plea­sures of hunt­ing is see­ing the coun­try­side from the back of a horse, not nec­es­sar­ily your own

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