Most foxhunters are eager to share ideas about how to promote children's participation in our sport. To encourage their young riders, North Hills Hunt (IA) recently coordinated a Junior Weekend, featuring a fun twist - on the first day, smaller and less-experienced children were invited to follow their beagle pack on horseback. The second day saw a more traditional meet behind the foxhounds, with both fixtures providing beautiful views of open plains.
This seven-year-old rider keeps a close eye on the huntsman. Photo by Jill Axmann Robinson.
Hon. Secretary, Carine Stava, said, "The beagles have proven a valuable asset for bringing along children, green horses and new members. It is a great opportunity to ride outside of the ring, without the fast pace that fox hunting (coyote in our neck of the plains) can set."
She added that the beagles met in their Yutan, Nebraska country, which is "very flat, no jumps, no water crossings, easy riding." Two fields were offered, with ex-MFH Mary Lynn Forst taking first flight (some cantering) and Stava leading the walk-trot group. Among the 31 riders following the beagles were several seven-year-olds having a great time, and a couple of multi-generational families participated. Everyone enjoyed a nice brunch afterwards.
The juniors warm up before moving off on the second day. Photo by Larry Stava.
The second day, huntsman David Kruger took hounds out from the kennels, near Loveland, Iowa. Thirty-four riders joined the field, not counting staff, of whom eight were juniors. One junior rode up with a whipper-in. All juniors were welcomed to ride up front, and adult members with colors and buttons invited the children to ride ahead. Quarry challenged the group with a couple of fun runs, multiple coops, and some good hound music. Stava adds, "We had a great whoopee wagon - out here that means car followers with beverages and snacks. After two hours of hunting we returned to the kennels for a lovely brunch."
Established in 1965, North Hill Hunt pursues mostly coyote through country in Iowa and Nebraska. For more information, visit northhillshunt.com.