From the horse’s mouth

Growing up in the countryside of Virginia I heard stories of hunting in England and Ireland. Tall as bean stalks surely, but these tales still scared me witless. Yet they awoke in me a certainty that if I wore wellies and packed enough sandwiches I could swim my pony across the Atlantic in time for opening meet.

The chance to fulfil my childhood fantasy came this Fall when my company sent me to train at the London office for a month.  Two weeks into my residency, on a gloomy Thursday evening, I received an email from my good friend Megan Corp of Blackthorn & Brook titled ‘it’s now or never.’ So I bailed on my dinner with the Queen and hopped on the first train to Somerset.

Megan’s hospitality began upon arrival. Remember those 4am wake up calls on chilly fall mornings when even the Jack Russell wasn’t enthusiastic? With Megan those mornings begin with a cup of tea, a smile, and a promise of ‘pony time’.

The ponies may have been Irish, (and 17 hands if they were an inch), but the rest of the scene was more English than a Sunday roast. Breath-taking countryside, mossy stone farmhouses, welcoming hunt regulars, and Megan’s keen sense of the sport are just a few of a long list of reasons why my first day hunting in England will remain one of my most cherished.

Somerset was not just about fulfilling fantasies, it was also about overcoming fears. Ditches began with one whose bottom I could not see, but Megan was right there with a ‘just kick and lean forward – he’s Irish.’ As Big Bird rationalized the multiplication table, so too did Megan explain that hedges are just like post and rail fences in Virginia – you’ll get over them as long as you believe. (and sit up on landing!, Ed.)

As all good things must come to an end, so too did my first time hunting in England. And even though I was from a different continent, (and one that barely drinks tea for that matter), as we left behind the Portman country, I felt like I was leaving home.

The point I would like the make with these jabs in the dark at humour and imagery is that the pleasures of  pastoral life, true horsemanship, and great hospitality are just a few reasons why time spent with Blackthorn & Brook is time spent in the best possible way.

A fox-hunting debut

Philip storming over his first Dorset hedge, Megan on the point of landing.

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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.