Monmouth County Hunt (NJ) junior Olive Scaff, 13, represented Pineland Riders Pony Club at the recent state championship, where she took first place for her presentation on foxhunting. A young leader, Olive is also a member of her local Stars and Strides, Teen Council and livestock 4-H clubs. Last month, she showed Monmouth County's unentered hound, Regal, to the blue ribbon in the junior handlers' 13 and older class at the New Jersey Inter-Hunt Puppy Show. She shared some of her experiences with us.
Olive and Monmouth County Regal at the New Jersey Inter-Hunt show. Alexandra Scaff photo.
Covertside Online: What other areas do you compete in (mounted or unmounted)?
Olive: I compete in hunter jumper shows including the 4-H NJ State Show. The pony I hunt now won the growing and training division when she was three, and I won the end of year award for itty bitty jumpers on my smaller pony. I am starting eventing at the beginner novice level this year and I love cross country jumping, but I know I need to concentrate on my dressage too. I do parades every year for 4-H on Memorial Day and at the Open Space Pace that promotes preservation of open space for equestrian sports. I have competed in 4-H western speed and pony club games too. That’s a lot of fun.
Covertside Online: How many seasons have you hunted? What is your favorite thing about hunting? and what is the most challenging thing about hunting?
Olive: I’ve been doing Junior Day since I was eight, so that was five years ago. I have started hunting more often recently because we moved to Allentown last year and we are a lot closer now. My favorite thing is the thrill of it when hunt first charges off. I also LOVE it when I see a fox! It is really beautiful to see the hounds work and exciting to be part of the chase. The most challenging part is having patience to stand still facing the staff in the bushes when my pony is moving all around.
Olive and some of her supporting materials at the state championship. Photo still from video courtesy of Alexandra Scaff.
Covertside Online: How did you prepare for your presentation about foxhunting?
Olive: I did some research on the history of foxhunting and took notes. I brought a flip chart with pictures and all the equipment including my saddle, bridle, a red hunt coat, a stock tie and pin. I also brought fliers and pictures of me hunting and showing a puppy. I talked about hunting and the judges were very interested in the part about the stock tie and pin being useful equipment if there is an injury that needs a bandage.
Covertside Online: Do you generally enjoy public speaking? Was it easier to talk about something you enjoy?
Olive: I have been public speaking in 4-H since I was in third grade. It is much easier for me to talk about something I feel very passionate about. I don’t have to fake my enthusiasm.
Covertside Online: If you could talk to some young people your age who haven't gone foxhunting, what would you tell them to make them more interested?
Olive: Anyone can do it. All you need is a good pony and to be able to gallop. There is a first flight which is fast (and I like that) and a second flight for kids who want to ride slower. Its OK if you fall off because you just get right back on and keep riding. Also, the members and especially the Master Meg are very welcoming. I enjoy talking to everybody after the hunt when we get together in the hunt house to eat. One time I saw a fox and it was a lot of fun to share the experience. I even said “Tally Ho.”