The Countryside Alliance annual newcomers’ week (21st-28th October) is just around the corner with a large number of hunts organising a specific day, or days, to welcome people of all ages who want to try a day out behind hounds.
This year, the CA is encouraging those attending newcomer’s meets – of all ages – to write about their experiences and enter our competition to win fantastic prizes donated by Champagne Pol Roger and The Old Hunting Habit.
We want to hear what it is that made your day memorable – perhaps it was the early morning alarm clock going off and then searching for your horse in the field in the dark by the light from your mobile phone. Or the relief that the “hunted in Ireland” description in your horse’s advertisement really was true as hounds ran all around and through his legs while you were still trying to put your gloves on.
For many people this day will be an entirely new experience from start to finish and could lead to the beginning of a lifelong passion. Everybody is made to feel very welcome with hunts organising the days to suit all levels with jumping and non-jumping routes to ensure nobody gets left behind.
Newcomers’ meets serve not only to introduce complete beginners, but to also welcome back those with less experience, or those returning to the hunting field after a break who might feel a little rusty. Many families also take advantage of this week – which coincides with half-term in many areas – to introduce their children to an activity their own families may have taken part in for generations and which continues to prove popular across our countryside.
Feeling the warmth from your horse or pony on a chilly autumn morning, the thrill of galloping across fields that you wouldn’t normally have access to, and watching hounds seeking out the trail that has been laid for them, are just some of the things that generate different emotions in people that follow hounds.
“The unique – and sometimes simple things – can form the very part of the day that makes hunting an activity like no other for people following hounds on horse on foot,” explained Polly Portwin, the CA’s Head of Hunting. “Through this competition, we hope to find out more about people’s own experiences and enjoy seeing hunting through a fresh pair or eyes, hopefully giving an insight into what it is that gives people the hunting bug and makes them want to go out time and again.”
Please send your entries – which should be no more than 400 words – to [email protected] or by post for the attention of Polly Portwin at the CA offices, Spring Mews, Tinworth Street, Vauxhall, London, SE11 5AN. The closing date for entries is Sunday, 5th November.
There will be six regional prize-winners that will be announced by 17th November.
If you are interested in finding out more about what is going on with your local pack, visit our Newcomers’ page here.
You can also download our Guide for Newcomers here.