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It’s tally ho time

GREEN CREEK – With fall approaching, area horsemen and women are conditioning their mounts for another hunting season starting in November. According to Green Creek Hounds Joint Master Deborah Bundy, the hunt provides several opportunities for hunt members to condition their mounts along with the conditioning and training of the hounds.

After several weeks of walking hounds, Green Creek began summer hunting (formerly known as “cubbing”) on August 24. The Tryon Hounds will begin summer hunting next week.

Green Creek staff are currently taking the hounds out for an hour or so on Thursday and Saturday mornings to help teach the young hounds and condition both them and the more experienced hounds. In September they will begin staying out longer, up to two hours.

Members and invited guests often accompany the hounds on these early days. It is a great opportunity to acclimate a green (unschooled) horse and/or condition a horse for the more rigorous three to four hour hunts which begin with formal hunting in November.

As with any athlete, it is very important to condition both hounds and horses for the season. Horses especially can suffer from lameness, breathing problems and other illnesses related to being ridden hard or fast when they are not fit.

Bundy, who has been hunting for approximately 40 years, recommends riders start slowly if their horses have been in the field all summer.

“Do some hill work (going up and down hills),” she said. She added that walking hounds is a great way to begin because the long walks are an excellent foundation for conditioning a horse.

For those whose horses are not quite fit when the formal season begins, or those with green horses, Green Creek offers the option to ride with the second flight or with the hilltoppers.

First flight riders stay much closer to the action by being able to gallop and jump as the hounds move. Second flight is perfect for the rider who wishes to go a little slower and choose whether or not to jump.

“All the jumps in our hunting country have the option to go around,” Bundy said. She added that Green Creek includes opportunities for the hilltoppers, those who are just starting out, are very young, or may otherwise need to stay at a very slow pace, to join in. While hilltoppers are not as up close to the action as the first flight, they are able to view the hound work and possibly catch a glimpse of the fox from the outskirts of the field (the group of riders that follow the hounds).

Those considering taking up hunting will need to outfit themselves in proper hunting attire. For Green Creek summer hunts, riders wear polo shirts along with breeches and boots. The fall hunt attire is known as “rat catcher” and includes breeches and boots, a tweed jacket and a rat catcher shirt and choker or a turtleneck shirt under their jacket. Formal attire, worn starting in November, consists of a black Melton coat, canary yellow breeches, dress boots, a stock tie and yellow vest. Of course all riders are required to wear approved safety helmets when mounted.

Each piece of clothing in the hunt field has a purpose. For example staff members wear red coats and white breeches called “pinks,” so they can be easily seen by the field and other hunters. The stock tie, which is a long white piece of cloth tied around the neck, can be used as a bandage in the case of an emergency.

While fox hunting can be a formal sport, Bundy said Green Creek makes an effort to welcome everyone who is interested. The hunt not only includes riders, but has a strong social group as well. The social members enjoy many activities throughout the year including boat trips on Lake Lure, parties and a formal hunt ball. During opening hunt, non-riders can even join in and follow the hounds in cars or “Tally Ho wagons.”     

“We want to make it [fox hunting] a sport everyone can come to know and love,” said Bundy.