(“. . . big but only about the size of J Lo’s thighs! “)
Except for a few diehards, the essence of foxhunting is being able to tell exaggerated stories at the party afterwards.
Fox hunting can be a great place to meet people. I first made the acquaintance of a lifelong friend when she fell head over teakettle jumping down a drop into a pasture, and in the most gentlemanly fashion I retrieved her horse and brought it back to her.
Back in the day—we are talking almost 50 years ago—I wasn’t always so clever. In another loose horse situation I lit off in hot pursuit with the image of a Roy Rogers type rescue in my head. As I galloped alongside and reached over to grab his flapping reins, I somehow got my other hand up in the air and managed to crisscross my own reins under my horse’s neck. It was only a mildly panicky situation. My embarrassment was having performed this spectacle in front of the whole field.
I was in my late teens/early 20s when most of this stuff happened. I was new to all the customs and rituals and trying to learn on the fly. There were several older gentleman members—pillars of the community—who rode up front behind the Master and whom I observed closely looking for people to emulate. We were galloping single file down a winding trail through the woods when the call echoed back from up ahead: “ ‘War fallen giant!” In that moment my mind flashed on a terrifyingly massive, brow band high redwood tree felled across the path. How relieved I was upon rounding the bend to discover the “fallen giant” was, indeed, big but only about the size of J Lo’s thighs!
Another time while hunting in Virginia, we were checked up in front of an imposing, solid snake fence, waiting to jump it one at a time. it had to be a good 3 foot nine, and of course I was on a young, green, horse who’d done a single Novice Level horse trial. We milled around in trepidation awaiting our turn. I could not have been happier when the horse to go right before me totally wiped that fence out into a heap of pick up sticks. Its rider was relatively unscathed—just a flesh wound— so we picked our way through the debris and cheerily went on after the hounds.
And thence to the party to share the story.