Visiting the Duke of Beaufort’s Hunt

One of the great joys of our sport is that two days are never the same.  Over the past couple of days I have enjoyed two very different meets: the same game, but in two very different settings.

On Saturday we took four horses up to visit the Duke of Beaufort’s Hunt at Acton Turville. It was a huge meet amid some beautiful countryside around the Badminton Estate.

Button- sewing and tea-drinking in the lorry - 90 minutes well spent!

Button- sewing and tea-drinking in the lorry – 90 minutes well spent!

We were up early before the long drive, and to make sure our horses were immaculate to fly the Blackmore Vale flag on unfamiliar turf!

Getting ready to go at the Duke of Beaufort's Hunt

My horse looking fresh after his long trip and early start

 

Polo professional and host at the Duke of Beaufort's Hunt

Polo professional and host Roddy looking dashing in his vintage coat

 It is always strange when visiting that the field so resembles what you are used to at home, just with different faces. We were soon introduced to a number of characters by our host, and managed some cheeky ‘celebrity-spotting’: we spied a couple of England polo players and even one of the masters of The Piedmont Hunt, VA!

162 Horses + 48 bottles of port + several tonnes of sausage rolls = Beaufort-scale catering at the meet!

162 Horses + 48 bottles of port + several tonnes of sausage rolls = Beaufort-scale catering at the meet!

 It was a real privilege to be part of something as grand as this Saturday with the Beaufort.  At one point we galloped for five miles along a drove of ancient turf – perfect going compared with the waterlogged farmland we have down in Somerset and Dorset at the moment.

The Badminton Estate is an amazing place.  You can feel the history – time stands still in the idyllic villages of Little Badminton and Acton Turville. Turning a corner to be faced with the magnificent Badminton House, home of the Duke of Beaufort and the hunt kennels, surrounded by its world-famous cross-country course took my breath away.

The field at the Duke of Beaufort's Hunt

The field canters away from the meet with hounds ahead, just about to enter the first covert

In contrast, yesterday morning’s meet saw 20 mounted followers at one of the Blackmore & Sparkford Vale’s smaller meets at Bush Farm, Babcary.

The Blackmore & Sparkford Vale at Bush Farm, Babcary

The Blackmore & Sparkford Vale

I gave the horses a day off and arrived at the meet on foot. Pretty handy as it was between the stables and my office – a five minute drive! I knew nearly everyone on their feet and mounted, and had a good chat (mostly about the previous Saturday with the Beaufort) and breakfast of sausage rolls, ginger cake and port.

The sport was good on both days, viewing hounds streaming away through the Gloucestershire countryside and hearing them speaking well across the fields  on Monday (frustratingly audible from the office) both gave me goose-bumps!

Going visiting makes me really appreciate all that is great about our local pack: knowing the meets and the people; being able to turn up at the drop of a hat to enjoy a sausage roll and a good chat; knowing where to park and who to follow.

Equally, seeing a pack through the eyes of a visitor reminds me of the spectacle of hunting, its history and how lucky we are to be part of this wonderful, timeless scene.

To find out more about the Duke of Beaufort’s Hunt see here.

For the Blackmore & Sparkford Vale’s website see here.

 

 


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Please note, throughout our website we use the term fox hunting to mean all of the activities carried out by our participating hunts operating within the constraints of the Hunting Act 2004.