Excitement, entertainment, and friendship…what more could you want? And it’s not just about the riders either. We are welcoming, a hunt growing in following, and of course we are completely PC; there is no controversy in terms of what we do and what we hunt.
For runners – aka the Quarry
Hunting the ‘clean boot’ means that we need several pairs of boots to hunt. An ideal quarry team consists of between 1 and 6 runners. The Quarry are an integral part of the SDB hunting day; they join us at the meet before setting off, and often a brief chat in between hunts. The Quarry always set of in good time ahead of the hounds and the ideal is that they aren’t ‘caught’ until the end of a hunt. Quarrying is an exclusive opportunity to run across some of the most spectacular country in the South of England, and running off tracks where most people just aren’t allowed to tread. Whilst you need to be fit to run the 12 or so miles during the Open Season, the Training Meets, averaging around 6 miles, are an ideal opportunity to develop that fitness along with the hounds, horses and riders. The Quarry team have a map of the route for each hunt and a 15-20 minute head-start. It is up to them, under the leadership of the Quarry Captain, to put in the checks and turns to make the hounds really work in hunting them down. And when they are finally caught, they are rewarded with a friendly lick from their hunters. If you enjoy cross country running, being pursued by a pack of baying hounds adds a completely new and uniquely exciting dimension to it.
The beauty of the SDB is that we cater for all riding abilities. Training Meets are perfect for those (horse or rider) new to hunting to gain in confidence – they take place in a morning. Much of the time we are hunting on open stubble fields so there is space to allow your horse get used to being in the Hunting Field. There is generally no jumping at this point in the season. Usually there are 4 or 5 short hunts, and the ‘day’ is comparatively short, starting at around 9am and over in time for lunch. For the more experienced hunter, this is the perfect way to recover fitness after the Summer.
By the time we get to the Open Season, you are likely to feel much more confident and ready for new challenges. We meet at 12 noon and set off at 12.30. These hunts tend to be longer, usually 3 – 5 miles, and there are 3 or 4 hunts during the day with a short break in between. We always offer the chance to get airborne for those that wish it with jumps ranging in height from 12” to over 4’ – something for everyone. Some hunting days offer permanent hunt jumps, hedges and logs, whilst other days make use of temporary fences which are put out the day before. And for those wishing to remain ‘grounded’ the majority of jumps are optional and if not, a non-jumping Field Master will lead the way round.
For the foot followers
Because the route of the hunts is carefully controlled, Bloodhounding is a real spectator sport. Many of our regular foot followers know the best vantage points from which to watch runners, hounds and riders and they are always happy to guide newcomers. Their encouragement at jumps and throughout the day makes a huge difference to all. They can also provide vital help with gates and roads to help the day flow. Members of the Hunt Supporters’ Club receive an emailed map of the hunts prior to each hunting day.
Outside of the hunting day there is the opportunity for all involved to join the Hunt Supporters’ Club, participate in fundraising events, equestrian, canine and social and feel a part of the South Downs Bloodhounds’ family.
The future’s bright, the future’s Bloodhounding!