Magazine article The Spectator

Notes On. Hunting

Magazine article The Spectator

Notes On. Hunting

Article excerpt

This time three years ago, I hadn't jumped a single thing for almost ten years. This season, I am happily jumping hedges that my horse and I can't even see over the top of. Crazy? Most likely. But when the adrenaline is pumping, and an inviting-looking hedge is looming directly in front of you -- well, what's a girl to do?

The sheer joy of hunting comes from far more than just dressing up in a smart coat and shiny boots and drinking port. It's the simple pleasure of being out in the field, watching the hounds do what they do best, and enjoying the pure beauty of the sport. One of my favourite memories this season is of watching the hounds work through a field of leeks, the only sign that they were there being the little puffs of mist above the crop, and the odd head briefly popping up to double-check its whereabouts.

It's the thrill of clearing a 5 ft hedge without thinking twice (just kick on, find a nice-looking gap and pray, is my technique). 'How brave,' people say, looking at the photographs. 'I could never do that.' Well, I never thought I could, either. There may be photographic proof, but my memory has erased the details of the whole fearsome jump, a bit like it used to do with those shocking exam papers I knew I had failed. It's about jumping our way across David Cameron's constituency; discovering D-day training sites scattered with replicas of Normandy's Atlantic Wall, and the true location of James Bond's Skyfall (sadly, in the film it's Surrey rather than a remote Highland glen). …

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