A rare ef­fort to leave the ground out hunt­ing this week — in­spired by a re­newed sense of con­fi­dence fol­low­ing a day out with the Bedale — ends un­cer­e­mo­ni­ously for Tessa Waugh

Horse & Hound - - News Insider -

Colum­nist Tessa Waugh’s hunt­ing di­ary

‘It is a sad state of af­fairs when a 10-year-old gives you a bol­lock­ing, but on this oc­ca­sion I prob­a­bly de­served it’

IFELL off this week. Whoopy-do, what’s so note­wor­thy about that, you might say? The thing is, there isn’t a lot of fall­ing off in our hunt (the Col­lege Val­ley North Northum­ber­land) be­cause we don’t jump very much. I haven’t jumped a stick all sea­son — lit­er­ally I have not left the ground, and I wouldn’t be alone in that. I am sure the con­cept of hunt­ing with­out jump­ing is an abom­i­na­tion to many, but you get used to it. We had some vis­i­tors from the Mid­dle­ton last sea­son who were com­pletely per­plexed: “We could have jumped that,” they said, sig­nalling glumly at some­one off their horse un­ty­ing a gate. “Oh no,” we shook our heads sagely.

There are other chal­lenges here for a horse — lug­ging their rider a thou­sand feet up a moun­tain for one. Any­way, a cou­ple of weeks ago I went down to York­shire for a day with the Bedale and had no choice but to leave the ground, re­peat­edly. That lot would jump a dou­ble decker if it was parked in the way. Net re­sult be­ing that when I went out last Satur­day, I felt ready for any­thing.

We found a trail shortly af­ter the meet and the hounds were speak­ing nicely as we set sail across a large field with a hunt jump at the far end of it. The fence wasn’t small be­cause there was a rail nailed on a foot or so above it but James, the field mas­ter, and Frances, our sole thruster, both made light work of it. Peo­ple were al­ready peel­ing off to open the gate fur­ther up, which should have been my sig­nal to fol­low.

“Right,” I said, “let’s go.”

As we can­tered for­wards, Jim didn’t feel like a horse that was about to jump.

He was con­fused: “What are you do­ing? Have you lost your mind?” — and since I haven’t jumped him since Au­gust, who can blame him?

There was a des­per­ate lack of im­pul­sion, a hes­i­ta­tion, then he took off, smash­ing the top rail and dump­ing me (gen­tly) on the other side. For some rea­son, his front legs ended up on one side of the fence and his back legs on the other. He was forced to re­verse and trot­ted back to the oth­ers, leav­ing me fid­dling piti­fully with the bro­ken rail.

My son Alec was ap­palled.

“What were you do­ing?” he asked. Un­til then I hadn’t given a se­cond thought to Alec or his new pony, who al­most cer­tainly would have fol­lowed us over (against the wishes of his rider). It is a sad state of af­fairs when a 10-year-old gives you a bol­lock­ing, but on this oc­ca­sion I prob­a­bly de­served it.

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