Tessa Waugh’s hunting diary, plus our weekly cartoon “The Final Straw”
Tessa Waugh reflects on her mother’s endearing comments about watching her enjoy hunting, as her own child — and a friend’s — have a hell of a day tackling their first hunt jumps
‘I don’t cry often, but
hunting always has the power to hit
IDIDN’T have a horse through my late teens and 20s, but I was lucky enough to do plenty of hunting because my parents and my uncle had horses and they were more than happy to share. Kind friends would also lend me their horses to hunt from time to time.
My mother always used to say, “It gives me as much pleasure to see you go out as it does to go myself,” but I never really understood her at the time. Like many of the things your youthful self dismisses as strange about the older generation, it all becomes abundantly clear later in life.
I was pondering all of this while plaiting ponies for hunting. I wasn’t going myself (Jim is still off ) but I didn’t feel grumpy or resentful. Strange to say it, I was actually enjoying myself and this feeling carried on throughout the day. At the meet, that needling pang of “wish I was out” didn’t come. Nor did it come when I pulled up in the car to watch Adam and the hounds and the rest of the field heading up a track to the first covert. Alec was riding Sally, the new pony, and a friend’s daughter, Maddy, was on
Rusty. Both ponies and children looked great and they were enjoying themselves — it was a joy to see, and without warning I found myself welling up as if something momentous had just happened. Weird, you might say. In my defence, I’m not a hugely emotional person and I don’t tend to cry very often, but hunting always has the power to hit my buttons.
I felt it on big occasions such as the Countryside March, the rally in Hyde Park, but this emotion also creeps up on me unbidden at other times, during the best days, hacking home late in the afternoon. Do other people get emotional about the things that they love — potholing, baking, cycling — I wonder?
THE afternoon came around quickly and Maddy and Alec were supposed to be back at the trailer at 3pm. At 4.15pm they were still “10 minutes away”, but when they finally appeared, I couldn’t find it in me to give them a bollocking; they’d had a hell of a day, jumped their first hunt jumps and done hundreds of gates.
Maddy hadn’t been hunting until this season but she’s already got the bug and, like Alec, never feels cold and never wants to go home. “We are making another monster,”
I said to Adam as Maddy emerged from the trailer in the twilight, pony in tow.
Childhood memories are made on these kinds of days and if you have a passion for something, it is wonderful to share it.