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Every summer, the invites to hunt puppy shows, kennel tours, open days and sporting events roll in via post, email and social media. To say the summer season is more hectic and relentless for many than the hunting season itself is an understatement, although there are plenty who think that those involved have nothing to do once the season ends and the hunters get turned out.
All those involved in the hunting community, from hunt staff and masters to die-hard followers, once-a-season subscribers and the purely social attendee, all greatly look forward to the summer season because of what it unconsciously offers; friendship and community.
As soon as the hunting season finishes, whilst horses may have a well-earned holiday (and hopefully hunt staff too) hunt followers are already pining for that heady cocktail of laughter, sense of belonging and friendships new and old. It stands to reason that traditional events like puppy shows and hunt sports fixtures like a cricket match are loved by those within the tightknit hunting community – a reuniting of good friends after a break from the winter hunting season is always a pleasure.
The events that really have an impact though, the ones that can influence public opinion and general impressions, are kennel open days and community events at kennels.
To openly invite a wider community including parish councillors, your MP, local press, friends from other areas of our immediate hunting circle (school parents or work colleagues), locals from the pub and residential areas passed on hound exercise, shows a relaxed confidence and transparency. To welcome people we know but who don’t necessarily understand what we do and love, to a relaxed event in our ‘home’ – hopefully with plenty of hospitality – can do more for public relations than most positive media.
Hunts are perfectly placed to lead the way and widen their network, supported by their members. Hunting communities must open their doors and welcome people into what might be misconceived as being a “tight circle”. We have plenty to be loud and proud about and the simple Open Day can be a great starting point, leading to waves from passing cars, pints bought at the pub and even support in local polls.