Have you ever dreamed of foxhunting? Perhaps watched a few GoPro videos of riders boldly tackling five-foot hedges, or read one of Rita Mae Brown’s mystery novels…and then thought, “I could never do that.”
Maybe you’re afraid your dressage horse would have an existential crisis. Maybe you just don’t want to pee your britches in front of a bunch of snooty foxhunters who will probably be laughing at you into their monogrammed Hermés handkerchiefs.
Well, the Anonymous Foxhunter has a little something to say to you.
She hides her face with stylish sequined masks, and always films in undisclosed locations. Her mission? To help riders of other disciplines chase their foxhunting dreams, with the tips, tricks and irreverent wisdom shared in her Youtube videos.
“I’ve ridden my whole life but came to foxhunting as an adult,” she shared, anonymously. “I very much got addicted on every level: the riding part and houndwork part, and the being outdoors part, and the social aspect too!”
She remains anonymous so she can say exactly what she thinks.
“I teach a fair number of beginners, and more experienced people forget you have to tell people how to do things. That can be tough because there’s a huge level of nervousness! But sometimes you see situations repeat themselves out in the hunt field and you just want to scream, ‘Can someone just say something?’ I thought well, maybe I’ll make it public in a very silly and lighthearted medium.”
So since last August, she’s been educating newbies in a way that no one else in the foxhunting world is—through Youtube videos, memes, and staking her claim on a nascent foxhunting social media empire.
“I was amazed for a moment that I was able to get AFoxhunter as my username,” she said, also anonymously. “But then if you think of the demographic, there’s probably not a whole ton of foxhunters on social media. And that’s telling—we need to get younger people!”
“Do not be afraid to ask questions, as any sportsman worthy of the name is glad to help a novice learn to love his sport.” W.P.Wadsworth MFH
— ? (@AFoxHunter) March 6, 2015
But foxhunting can be intimidating for those who weren’t born into it. I speak from experience here—my 2014 was all about getting into foxhunting, from calling the hunt staff last summer and asking if they knew of anyone with a hunt horse to lease, to acquiring all the necessary clothes used online, to bringing carrots and cookies to hunt breakfasts (the way to a foxhunter’s heart is through the stomach).
There were so many things to worry about. Was I wearing the right clothes? Was it OK to use a synthetic girth instead of a more traditional leather one? Would I embarrass myself in some way I hadn’t even anticipated? If only I had the Anonymous Foxhunter in my pocket on my phone reminding me: DON’T FREAK OUT and simply enjoy our precious open spaces (two of her favorite catchphrases).
So how do you break into foxhunting? In our covert interview, the Anonymous Foxhunter shared tons of useful advice for riders looking to expand their horizons beyond the arena.
Isn’t foxhunting, like, terrifying?
“People don’t realize that there is the option at almost every club to go in a second flight [slower group]…On the other hand, you do hear from people who would be comfortable taking their horse over whatever the paneling [jumps] might be, but they’re under the impression that 10 horses break their legs every hunt. I haven’t seen catastrophic foxhunting injuries that you don’t see in other sports.”
The right horse
“A good foxhunting horse is just a nice horse to ride. It will go in a group; it will stay back with a buddy. People don’t realize you don’t need the most stunning imported horse, or that the whole social aspect is actually very egalitarian. If you have the prettiest horse but it bumps up into the field master’s horse, you’ll be very unpopular.”
“I belong to maybe 3 hunts at this point, so if I took advantage of everything my memberships let me do, it would average out to $5 or $10 a ride.”
What does the fox say?
“You can’t shy away from the possibility that the hounds may catch and kill the fox, but that’s rarely the goal. What we’re really hoping that the fox may run across the most beautiful land in the world and we’ll have a great run. I think it’s important not to say it never happens because it can happen, so if you do go out, you do have to make your peace with it.”
“But you’re not going to find people more devoted to land preservation than foxhunters. Think about it—if the land is going to get turned into houses and shopping malls, then the whole fox population dies off.”
“The interesting thing is that you have people who come at it from all different aspects—there are people who hunt deer or pheasant, or people who are mostly into the riding or the social climber types. There’s more than one reason people hunt; there’s different ways to do it—and so many different ages.
If you convince yourself that you’re 55 and arthritic that you can’t do it—I see 90-year-old ladies hilltopping!”
I want to hunt. What do I do?
“Go to the MFHA website, find the closest hunt, and don’t be afraid to contact them. They are friendly nice people who want to take your money! Spring is the time to get started, since plenty of hunts have hunter paces, intro-to-hunting clinics, or summer horse shows. Every hunt has kind of a mother hen who will take you under her wing and show you the ropes.”