Foxhunting in Ireland (Part 2)

Hunt #2

Our second hunting adventure started the night before the hunt with the pre-pre-hunt pub gathering. Here we met up with our Irish contact and his clients, The Belgians. We were all going to hunt together the next day and over Guinness we were asked, with a wink, which one of us would be a greater loss to society, because one of the hirelings was an inexperienced 3-year-old.

Looking perfect
Our Irish liason always looked perfect

The next morning we met our companions in town and followed them to the meet, eliminating the difficulty of finding another elusive pub. When we arrived we headed into the pub for the pre-hunt pub gathering and then it was on to the hunt. On this hunt all of the jumps, banks, and ditches were covered in thick brush. One of our riders nearly came off over stone wall when a small tree got between her knee and the saddle. When jumping ditches we noticed that the locals would often lay on their horse's neck to duck the thickest part of the brush while the horse slid part way down the embankment and then leapt across, popping the rider back upright. We couldn't figure how they stayed on riding this way so we developed the Hillbilly Ditch Jumping Style (instructional video coming soon): point the horse towards the ditch, grab the jumpstrap, and close your eyes. Somehow we emerged on the other side still in the saddle, if a little scratched up. We used to think that stockties were silly and pointless but on this hunt we were thankful that we were wearing them to protect our necks from the brush. While we, and many of the other riders, looked like we had been put through a shredder, our Irish liason looked like he stepped out of a hunt painting. His top hat and tails always looked immaculate and even the carnation in his lapel was completely intact.

Looking a little muddy
One of our riders was a little muddy after the second hunt

At one point in this hunt the hounds were on a run and the only way to keep up with them was to jump a large water trough. One of our horses dunked her hind end into the trough when she tried to jump it. The horse scrambled out but had to run hard to catch up with the field. While trying to catch the field the rider got a bit off balance over a brushy stone wall and would have recovered nicely except, on landing, her horse had to dodge around another rider who was lying on the ground, holding his horses reins. Our rider fell off and wasn't able to keep a hold of her reins and her horse galloped off. The other fallen rider remounted and promised to send the wayward horse back. Our rider started to walk in the direction she had last seen the field, wondering what she would do if she wasn't able to find them. Finally an Irish lad came riding up on her horse, helped her mount, and pointed her in the direction of the field. What would we have done without these nice Irish boys retrieving our horses for us?

Looking a little frazzled
We both looked a little frazzled after the second hunt

We were finally reunited with the field, but it didn't last long. While we were waiting our turn to jump the bank into the next field, a farmer drove his tractor into the field and headed towards our group. The men in the field recognized that this would not be a friendly encounter and all chivalry went out the window as they clambered over us to make it over the bank before the angry farmer succeeded in blocking our path. This left the women, children, and Belgians cut off from the rest of the field. We tried to find a way to rejoin the main field, even wading through a river up to our ankles (the riders' ankles, not the horses') but we were unable to catch them because the hounds were running hard. So we were forced to head back to the pub early.

Sleeping Olympic eventer
This Belgian Olympic eventer (Syndey 2000) wanted nothing to do with Hillbilly Farms, so we had to ace him to get this picture

At the post-hunt pub gathering we asked how the terrain of this hunt compared with our next hunt and we were told that our next hunt would be similar but bigger. We were afraid to ask if this also meant brushier. With this information we decided it was time to get ready for the next hunt by moving onto another pub (the post-post-hunt pub gathering). We left that pub and were heading back to the B&B when we ran into the Belgians so we decided to go with them to another pub for a post-post-post-hunt pub gathering (that makes this a five-pub hunt for Hillbilly Farms, for those of you who lost count). This gathering lasted until the barman subtly let us know he was closing by yelling, "GET OUT!" We headed home for the night while The Belgians continued on in search of yet another pub.

Belgians with Hillbilly Farms jacket
The Belgians posing with a Hillbilly Farms jacket (but because they didn't know what a hillbilly was they usually refered to our farm as Billhilly Farms)
Belgians with Lami-Cell jacket
Once the Belgians started posing with jackets we couldn't get them to stop. Here they pose with their Lami-Cell jacket.