I was so jealous of all the lucky riders that got to take part this time around! (Feeling slightly like a beached whale, at only 5 months pregnant) I was just on foot this year but I really enjoyed the whole weekend! Verity and I shared a room again in the hotel where all the riders were staying, and it was great to meet in person with so many of my ‘virtual friends’ who I know from our “sidesaddle riders!” facebook page.
There was a cocktail party and raffle on the night before the hunt, where much to my absolute AMAZEMENT I won a pair of Dubarry boots that I had wanted for at least 4 years but which I could never bring myself to spend so much money on!
The morning of the hunt was very very cold, rainy and windy, on any normal hunting day the hunt would have been called off as land was so wet but luckily all of the landowners were absolutely amazing and let it go ahead! The ladies all congregated in the lobby of the hotel, suited, booted, lipsticked and veiled…
before having a group shot taken on the stairs which displayed gorgeous traditional hunting habits from various countries.
The French style was simply magnifique and the Americans were also very glamourous but I don’t think anything could beat old school British elegance as displayed by Amy Jane Bryan and Lorna Pearson in the photo below!!
The ladies were bused to the meet where they were met by countless horse lorries, where horse after horse was unloaded, gleaming, plaited and tacked up to be handed over to their jockey for the day:
I met Caroline Wilkins and Martha Sitwell from England, who were two of the riders in the Downton Abbey Hunt Scene; and Antoinette de la Boullerie from France who I hunted with last year:
(click on the link for the video!) the oakes sisters led the way :
Verity and I got into her jeep along with Sarah Parry (who is in the process of designing and manufacturing side saddles!) to follow the hunt. It was absolutely FREEZING with snow and rain milling down!
I don;t think any of the international riders knew what they were in for !
and we lost them for a while, during a quick check we helped Anne Beatrice Muller from France who had lost her stirrup leather and was absolutely saturated too, while others who were slightly shell shocked at their first Irish hunting experience took out their flasks for a quick sip!
The hunt had a very fast run of one and a half hours over extremely challenging country
there were still grins from ear to ear!
and everyone came back to the hotel absolutely filthy :
While Susan Oakes who organised the whole day still looked as fresh as a daisy!
as well as all the landowners whose generous hospitality was absolutely incredible given the weather conditions. A huge thank you must also go to all those who lent horses to the overseas visitors, and thus giving up their own day’s hunting!
Photos by Jennifer O’Sullivan, Nadina Ironia, Olivia Shannon Eyers, Middleburg Photos, Ciara O’Connell