As a very keen hunter I had known about the Drag for a long time before I first rode with it; in the mid 70’s I had a very good cross country horse who would have been quite capable but the Drag’s reputation was as a “quick way to break horses – they’re all mad” so I streered clear!
Later I raced as an Amateur Point to Pointing and hardly rode otherwise, hunting really stopped for me until 1988 when I bought my own horses to race and so qualified them but still with the foxhounds. Then in 1989 I had changed jobs & met Sally Voorspuy and through her & Linda Adams, both keen followers of the drag, I ended up going to watch them both out with the Drag.
I thought it looked quite good fun!!!
The receptionist in my new firm’s office had a horse she wanted to sell & I managed to persuade her that the best place to sell him would be through the Drag & of course it was perfectly sensible of her to let me have him for a couple of months to get him sold!!! I think that was in the 90/91 season: I went out for the first time from the Jolly Farmer at Horne. Kings was the first line; well known for its challenging hedges, It was a good horse – one of the best I rode in my early Drag years (not that that bar was very high in my early seasons) and I fell in love with the whole game that is the Drag.
Great fun riding, great fun people – kindred spirits (whisky mac by the dozen) great craic all – under the Dragons watchful eye (Chairman Phillipa Marshall). To paraphrase Whyte-Melville of Nag & Dog ‘I freely admit that the best of my fun, I owe it to the Mid Surrey Farmers Draghounds’. I tried my best not to miss a day from that point on (and not to go home until the doors closed).
In all my hunting I have always enjoyed being part of the action – going on with the whips with the foxhounds and I was very keen to do the same with the Drag. I think I got away with the trip that ended Colin’s reign as whip and while the previous years had been fun, the five I had riding behind Fred, as I now also had stumbled across some decent horses, will always remain the best I think I will ever have.
Jack, my son, was 4 days old when he went to the Wheatsheaf at Albourne on a damp November Saturday. He went to almost every meet then until he was 5, when I handed over my coat & hung up my boots. We went to ride on the beach at Ferring on a frozen day when he was still a small baby – the tide was right in so we went to Lady Herries all weather gallop that was nearby. I suggested leaving him in the back of the lorry with the Labrador; that did not meet approval so I carried him strapped on my front on my drag horse – Jack slept as we cantered up the 12 furlongs. It’s in the blood! Jack has been out on his ponies, Bob & Chukka, on as many occassions as he has been allowed – children’s meets and the smaller days. Now that he has graduated to Storm who is 16:3 is a jumping machine, he is looking forward to doing more and I relish watching him and hearing him enjoy the reliving of the day.
Being brave is not enough to really become a Drag hunter – the discipline of riding with the safety of your fellow in mind, without pranging your horse, upsetting the hounds, joining in the fun and parties and most importantly maintaining the welcome given by the wonderful people who let us cross their land. That is what the Drag is about – that and Ginni Beard’s photos!