Hunting on horse back with hounds is all about challenging yourselve. It’s also about the breath-taking scenery, jumping challenging fences or going through the gates having the opportunity to ride over local farmland that otherwise you may not get to ride over.  Let alone the fact that the baying of hounds certainly gets your adrenalin going.  Hunting in New Zealand is not so different to the age old English fox hunting.  There is a sense of tradition and pageantry on all hunt fields.

 

To the uninitiated, it could seem like an intimidating sport - black jackets, high leather boots, buff breeches, white shirt with a white well tied stock, stock pin and hardhat, gleaming horses for all the field riders and red jackets & white jodhpurs for the master & huntsman all riding out on well presented mounts.  It is this pageantry that has been around for hundreds of years and the pride of the riding members is seen on all hunt fields.

 

Whether you are a keen jumper or just want to go through the gates you're all welcome at Kaipara Hunt, we even have a number of disabled riders who hunt with us, they find hunting one of the best ways to enjoy their equestrian passion.  The ability to ride over farmland free of their disabilities for a few hours is a welcome change.

Children are welcome although if under the age of 12 they must be accompanied by a riding adult.  From past experience it is wise that they can at least canter up hills, and control their ponies in a group, it always makes the adults day a bit easier if they can also get on and off by themselves.  (A muesli bar or two never goes astray.)

 

After a hard days hunting, the hounds sleep in the truck waiting to travel home.

 

 

 

The Harrier Hound

Here in N.Z. the majority of packs are pure Harriers as these are best for Hare and Drag Hunting.  They are bigger than the Beagle but lighter and more rangy than the solid Fox Hound.  The breeding of hounds is a matter of long and careful thought.  A good hound is one that is never conspicuous. A conspicuous hound is one that rushes round full of energy and apparently doing all the work.  In fact however, his head is up most of the time when it should be down looking for the scent.  Another bad fault in a hound is that he may be a “Babbler”. Giving tongue and bringing the pack to him under false pretences when he has not found a scent but is indulging in hopeful thinking.  An equally bad hound is one that runs “mute” and may run several paddocks ahead of the pack without giving tongue and spoiling the scent for the others.  Hounds may also be ‘skirters’ - those which stay on the outskirts of the pack.  The first essential of a good hound is “nose”.  A hound’s vision is very limited as it is only 20 odd inches above ground level and any slight rise above that height blocks it entirely.  He is therefore entirely dependent upon his scenting powers.  He must also possess drive and energy and a pleasing musical tongue.  In appearance, he should be about 21 inches high with a brainy head, clean neck, sloping shoulders, deep ribs, strong loins, short back, well let down hocks and good close-toed feet with a slight spring of pastern.  Apart from the work in the hunting field, a large amount of work goes on in the year so that hounds will arrive in the field fit and able to do their work well.  A pack may consist of 30 to 40 hounds which have to be kept fed, clean, exercised and healthy all the year round. This work is done under the direction of the master by the Huntsman.  Their food consists chiefly of horse flesh & bread.  The pack will eat the equivalent of one or two horses a week, all of which have to be collected, killed and fed out to the hounds.  As you can imagine, it is extremely difficult to obtain enough horses so if you have an old pony or know of one that has to be “put down” please let the Huntsman know.  It is surely a far better ending for a horse that has enjoyed hunting.  Both hounds and kennels have to be kept scrupulously clean and their bedding and water changed daily.  All puppies are inoculated and there is generally one or two in need of attention for cuts, bites or sickness of some sort.  All the pack is thoroughly examined after hunting for sore pads, thistles or any injuries they may have incurred.  Hounds have to be exercised every day.  In summer after the hunting season is over, a walk in a nearby paddock is sufficient, but from Christmas they have to start getting fit for hunting.  During this period, the young hounds that are going to have their first season’s hunting commence their training. 

Many puppies have to be reared each year as it is necessary to keep the number and quality of the pack up and assistance is appreciated. 

Hounds are referred to always, as “Hounds” not “The Hounds” and never, never dogs.  A pack is counted in twos, known as “couples” i.e. 10 ½ couples are 21 hounds.  Hounds when born are called “whelps” then become “puppies” and when they start hunting with the pack is “entered”.  The baying noise hounds make when running is called “giving tongue” or “throwing tongue”.  Hounds which do not give tongue are “running mute” and will slip away and leave the pack behind.  A “babbler” is a hound that gives tongue regardless of whether or not he has the scent and very often misleads the others.  Hounds with either of these faults should be removed from the pack.  When hounds start to follow the scent the wrong way, that is, the direction from which they came, they are said to be “running heal”.  When they follow the scent of a rabbit or other animal, than a hare or stag or get out of control, they are said to be “running riot”.

When the Hunt commences, the Huntsman will take his hounds into the first paddock and set them to “casting” – that is the hounds are searching for the scent.  During this time it is very important that hounds are not interfered with in any way.  Any loud talk or laughter or a galloping pony will distract them and make them raise their heads and spoil the run.  So please remember – keep quiet when hounds are working.  The Huntsman will lead his hounds slowly round the paddock until eventually a hound will locate the scent and off they go, all giving tongue.  Hounds are then said to be “running”.

When they are running, the field should not follow too closely or ride directly behind hounds as they may distract them or injure stragglers.  To over-ride hounds is the biggest crime you can commit in hunting.

The Huntsman is usually happy to answer any questions at the end of the hunt or at the hunt breakfast.

 

 

 

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