Okay, Sweaney, slooow down and take a deep breath! Some of you are probably like me and have no idea what fox hunting even is. You can Google it of course, or check out Wikipedia, but the short version is that hounds are released to track game and riders dressed in show clothes gallop after.
Tejon Hounds is a brand new hunt club that is recruiting members. In order to showcase their hunting grounds, they invited members from other clubs and even opened up the hunt to complete newbies like myself (and Louisiana). Normally, a $125 "capping" fee is paid by non-club members, but since this was an "open house" type of event, the fee was waived. An annual membership, which comes with lots of other amenities, is $1,500.
The hunts happen every Wednesday and Saturday through the season which generally runs from September to March, depending on the weather. Apparently, heat and humidity affect the ability of the hounds to catch the scent. Here's a snippet from the Tejon Hounds Facebook page on October 23.
Hey Everyone! Just your weekly update on hunting. The hounds moved off from the trailer at 7:30 this morning. The humidity was slightly higher than it has been in recent weeks which made a world of difference for the hounds. We were drawing along the base of some foothills getting ready to go up a small canyon when Scott viewed a coyote. Quietly, we trotted forward to cast the hounds gently on the line. Hounds hit it off! There was some zig and zag along the line as the wind drifted it slightly here and there. There was some exceptional hound work to been seen. A big thanks to Grand Canyon Hounds for being so generous in helping us start a wonderful pack. Now for some cold weather and snow, our thirty minute snippets might turn into two hour dust eaters. Happy Hunting!
During this particular hunt, the riders milled around until the designated start time. Before we left, there was a blessing on the hounds that was accompanied by a shot of port or sherry or some kind of heavy wine. I happily took mine as a substitute for valium.
Riders (we were about 15) were divided into "fields" depending on their comfort level. The first field, or main field, stays right with the hounds, galloping as necessary. The second field hangs back and follows the first field a bit more slowly. Louisiana and I were in the third field which watched the main field gallop off. We spent the next three hours galloping to hill tops trying to catch sight of the hunt. Riders in the third or fourth fields are known as Hill Toppers.