It was the children’s meet on Saturday, the day when any self-respecting adult steers well clear of the hunt, in the largely justified belief that a Thelwellian scene of unbridled mayhem is about to unfold.
The potential for pony Armageddon is enormous: children out for the first time, some not very glued to their saddles; Shetland ponies, dragged out of a field, unable to believe what fun galloping with the herd can be. Only grown-ups shepherding children, or those who had forgotten, were there. The 1st Duke of Wellington might have said: ‘I don’t know if they frighten the fox, but, my God, they frighten me.’
In the event, it was more orderly than might have been expected. Yes, we had our moments of drama. Six-year-old George Evans came off at a log, but was straight back on, knowing the £5 prize for being the best turned out would now have to pay for the Tumblers’ Club fine. Tom, five, was on a pony smaller than a large dog, but was still there at the end, largely thanks to his father, Henry, running beside, midair-refuelling him with sweets.
The Junior Field Masters had performed with enthusiasm, others had been allowed to ride with the huntsman and I would say that, by the end, there were 50 mud-spattered converts to the joys of a day in the open following hounds.