Saturday, January 19, 2008

French hunting, day one...


Next day off with the stag hounds. My companions F. and R. rode, the master put me with two local women who were part of the organization, and for once there was some. Big labels to put on cars, flashing lights to warn traffic, it was great to see an attempt to bring some order to the usual car following mess.

The car was a little Honda four wheel drive baby jeep, and she drove it like she stole it. The two women in the back were blanching with fear, but I loved it.

The forest was beautiful, well maintained and shown to advantage on such a pretty day. At one point we were on the grande avenue, supposedly widened by Bonaparte for Maria Louisa because she missed the views of Schoenbrunn. Second wives get all the good stuff.

Didn't get a good picture of it, but these show how hunting in the forest is defined by the allees, rides in the woods. One CAN go in the forest, but it is not easy and few do.

Among the other guests were a group of Dutch cavalry officers! As best I could understand they were reservists, and the unit was sort of a high end semi private organization. Very pleasant people and devoted, they had been coming to visit for years. Also some Americans, from Colorado and Chicago.

Distinguished Engleesh visiteurs...

This girl is a groom for the hunt, prepping staff or master's horses. She was EVERYWHERE, dead on every time, and enjoying herself more than any four other people out there. They are getting their money's worth out of her, and she from them. Adam Smith in action.

The most dramatic guests joined us later, more about them tomorrow.

Good thing there are no travail d'enfant laws on hunt servants...

(He's ten years old.)

Hounds got on to a pig at first, pulled off and went in a different direction. Settled into a stag and ran and ran. Pretty impressive, scent must have been poor but they never quit trying. My pilot clearly was the expert, a couple of times stagboy almost stepped on us when he crossed rides.

(You can just see his legs leaving the ride on the left.)

There was one English hound from the D&S who had a really distinctive voice. He led the group on this stag all through.

It was interesting to see the different hunting styles. These riders were having a good day, and there was lots of excitement and hoo hah. But they were all enjoying themselves, and seemed pretty interested in what was going on. Not that there was no chattering, but when hounds ran, the riders silenced themselves. Everyone paid attention, they were there to HUNT.

Plenty of bicyclists out. Most kept right up, this couple in particular. They put 46 kilometers on their velos, that's twenty eight miles in real distance! Again, the expressions say it all.

They finally bayed him at the edge of the lake right beside the clearing where the Armistice was signed. Note the ice on top, it was brisk but the hounds went right in.

Then back to the kennels for the curee and dinner afterward. F. and R. were well up all day, F. had premiere honneur which was well deserved and appreciated.

One never knows whom one will meet. My left hand partner was a Dutch woman who has the factory which makes the world’s best wooden floors! Interesting that there is a whole business devoted to that sort of thing. Interesting floor tidbit- they do the installation. And when they do, they put in sensors which record things like temperature and humidity. So when a customer demands a replacement of a warped floor, the company can remind them about the flood or fire that they forgot.


Barbara said...

Lovely photos staghounds. What a wonderful day you had.

Miss Carnivorous said...

those are lovely, Babs is right. It looks like you had a great time and met cool people too.

Sharon said...

God those horses are beautiful. Forget French men, give me French hounds and horses! Though a man would come in handy later I suppose! :-)