Brave fundraiser Jemima Taylor has decided to tackle 10 days hunting without a saddle to raise funds for the Air Ambulance and The James Wentworth Stanley Memorial Fund. She also shares her top 5 tips for hunting just in time for those of you planning to join a meet on Boxing Day.

Jemima writes: In the summer I was thinking of ways to raise money for charity when the idea of doing 10 days hunting without a saddle came into my mind, after I had been jumping one of my horses over some fences bareback. My two chosen charities are The James Wentworth Stanley Memorial Fund who raise awareness for suicide and depression, and my other charity is Kent Sussex and Surrey Air Ambulance.

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I thought I would do two tester days on each horse to find out how comfortable they would be to ride bareback for more than half an hour, so I took them out autumn hunting and came to the realization that my calmer hunter was the least comfortable where as my more excitable horse was unbelievably comfortable (even in trot!).

The 10 days of hunting without a saddle officially started at the Opening meet, for the first time ever before hunting I felt a little bit nervous. I promised my mother that I would avoid the hedges and take it easy, but as soon as the adrenaline had kicked in I knew I trusted my horse and just followed the field over hedges, timber and more. At second horses around 2 ‘o’ clock that is when the pain kicked in rushing through my back and my legs, but I thought on my first official day I must stay out and about 7 hours after we set off from the meet we made our way home.

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If any of you were to decide to do a 7-hour hunting day bareback I advise a long hot bath afterwards. I continued going every Saturday and Wednesday with the Crawley and Horsham and one day with Surrey Union every day staying out until the end as I felt as it was a must to those who donated and I am also not one to go home early anyway, and by half day the pain hit I thought it can not get more painful so I might as well ride it out until the bitter end.

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I am currently on my 8th day out of the 10 and although a little excited to have a saddle back, I have really enjoyed it and every day it got easier and less nerve racking I might even throw in an extra day later on in the season. Having so much support and the unbelievably generous donations has spurred me on throughout the fundraiser so far.

My 5 top tips for hunting:
  1. Always check the weather so one can dress accordingly, as from personal experience I have been both too cold or too hot
  2. This may be a more obvious one but always remember to go to the loo before you get on the horse, as going alfresco in the woods can be a little tricky
  3. Remember to know who your field master is and always follow them, and although there can be a few people who believe they know a better way, don’t trust them
  4. Its always nice to have a hip flask full and a drink or two but be careful not too over do it as it can make maneuvering around the woods or over the fences a little tricky
  5. Last but not least, always remember your tack (especially the saddle)
You can support Jemima’s fantastic challenge on her fundraising page.