Chasing Tail – Why Fox Hunting is the hottest extreme sport you’ve never seen, let alone tried.
Who doesn’t like the thrill of the chase? How about a sport that is hundreds of years old, involves a private club, speed, thrills, horses, hounds and the rugged outdoors? What if it involved lots of ladies in tight pants straddling horses, spurs, whips, alcohol and getting to say “bitch” as much as you like? Mounting regularly? Breeding? How about offering the lady of your choice the chance to wrap her lips around your flask in public? Thinking you will surely die, yet living to tell about it? Who wouldn’t like this sport?
Guess what? Our ancestors were on to something. They may not have had Xbox but they did have the hunt box. They practiced the extreme sport of foxhunting – formal, expensive, dangerous and an incredible amount of fun. Traditionally a very private and exclusive sport, fox hunting has been made rarer over time by urbanization. While it may be difficult to pursue country sport in the city, fox hunting continues today -even just outside most of our major cities. Today, fox hunting is also much more egalitarian and truly more about chasing rather than harming fox these days. If you enjoy risk, danger, adventure and nature, and have a desire to party like your ancestors, fox hunting might be the sport for you.
THE GENERAL IDEA – PURSUIT OF A FOX
Ever had your dog chase a squirrel? Chances are there is a lot of chasing and not much catching. Fox hunting is like that. A pack of hounds (not dogs), Foxhounds, bred for hundreds of years to follow the scent of fox, are taken out loose to “find” the scent. Once found, the hounds follow it wherever it leads. Hunt participants follow the hounds on horseback, wherever they go, at whatever speed they go, over whatever terrain or obstacles they happen to meet.
As fox hunting is usually a fall and winter early morning sport, alcohol is allowed and helps to keep the participant warm, numb the pain of waking early and give them the “balls” to follow the hunt. This is the same principle you find when skiing where bars are located conveniently on the slopes. Traditionally, hunts begin with meets (where people meet, eat, mount their horses and have some alcoholic beverages). Much sport/comedy usually ensues. Like a video game, there are all sorts of special rules, language and “levels” of participation during the hunt. Unlike a video game, you will be given all of the secrets and codes before play begins. Also unlike a video game, any blood will likely be real.
After defying death by riding a horse at speed following hounds for a while, most hunts conclude with a lot more food and a lot more alcohol at a luncheon. At a luncheon one has the opportunity to exaggerate prowess, show off a fresh injury, discuss breeding and compare the bodies of the bitches at the hunt that day. Unlike Vegas, what happens in the hunt field makes excellent gossip and entertainment. Fox hunts do traditionally have black tie hunt balls and other non-riding events. Fox hunts also often have many non- riding members as well. This is good news because if you find that you absolutely, positively can not ride a horse well enough (blind, missing limbs, broke or just lazy, etc), you can still participate as a “social member” or a “hilltopper”. A “hilltopper” follows the hunt by means other than a horse which can mean follow in a warm car with a buddy and the cooler. It is truly an ADA friendly sport. Trust me. You have no idea how much fun following hounds chasing a scent can be until you have tried it.
THE PARTNER WHO WILL SAVE YOUR LIFE OR PERHAPS END IT
There is the whole horse back riding part of fox hunting. Ideally, you will learn to ride a horse before fox hunting. Fortunately, there are many attractive young horse riding instructors around who can help with your hands, seat and position as you learn to mount and ride proficiently. Riding lessons are expensive and you will pay by the hour. Hopefully you will learn good rhythm, balance and stamina and will make a good impression when you fox hunt. If for some reason you lack these gifts, do not worry or let that discourage you. Many people ride regardless of skill and we are grateful for they are the source of free entertainment.
You will need a horse to ride. You do not want one that will bust your balls all the time. You should have fun riding it and it shouldn’t hurt when you do. Ideally you will find that perfect horse to ride – the one that jumps anything in its way, carries you through creeks and up dangerous banks with ease. Less ideally you will find a horse that bucks you off, rears, bites, kicks and falls down frequently. The former will become a true companion in life; the latter can help you to end your life. Whatever horse you do choose to ride will need to follow some rules. Rules like “never ever under any circumstances kick a hound” and “do not run over the horse in front of you”. Horses that follow rules and take good care of their riders are partners worth their weight in gold. Unlike women, they do not expect jewelry if ridden frequently.
Horse shopping is a lot of fun. Hopefully you will take a horse trainer with you, to help you shop. Shopping is much more fun and successful when money is no object. Ideally you can purchase a “made” horse. Another option is a “green” horse. “Green” does not refer to color or to the amount of cash needed to procure it. “Green” is a term to describe a horse who is basically an undrafted rookie. Good luck shopping. Remember that whether you purchase a thoroughbred ex-racehorse or a horse that is like a large lumbering sofa with ears, there will still be a place for you in a hunt. It is a matter of personal taste. Finding the right horse is like finding any other perfect partner. Hopefully your horse will be attractive, athletic and generous. Such a horse will literally save your ass and show you a good time without embarrassing you in public.
UNIFORM AND SPECIALIZED EQUIPMENT
Fox hunting does have a required uniform which to the uninitiated may seem odd. The uniform has been tested over the centuries – literally. This is the fun and kinky part. You are required to have tall black leather boots and a long stock tie. Whips are optional. Here is a brief list of common hunting uniform components and their purposes:
Helmet – Tree branch! Rock! Drooling in a wheelchair prevention! (Secret status indicator section)
Wool vest – warmth wet or dry, hides contraband
Wool Coat – Vital warmth wet or dry, identifies sex and status at distance
Boots – Thorns!, water!, SHIT(horse, hound and holy)!
Stock Tie – Emergency bandage (The blood is real),(shit)
Stock Pin – Secure the tie, hold the bandage on,(shit)
Gloves – Vital grip, warmth, prevents blisters from braking hard
Fox hunting also requires specialized equipment to allow you to ride the horse. A saddle, bridle, martingales, pads, and combat worthy protective leg boots all are used to outfit your horse. Importantly, there are other gadgets available to attach to the saddle including wire cutters, sandwich cases (who doesn’t get hungry?), and the all important FLASK because you may indeed want a drink while you are out there. Usually there are at least two whips, wire cutters and very often one handgun in the hunt field (I told you this could get exciting). Note: Participants do not carry wire cutters, whips or a gun in ice hockey, baseball, football, golf, or poker tournaments. Whimps.
TRY IT, YOU’LL LIKE IT
Great men fox hunt. George Washington fox hunted. Lots and lots of lovely ladies still fox hunt. Mount up. Try it. You might just get a view of real fox tail. Tally Ho!