11 September 2016
I don't know that I believe him, but recently Wolfie went to Scotland where some shooting of clay pigeons took place. He told me it was at a friend's estate, where he stayed. His daughter who lives in on the grounds had wanted to see him. She likes to shoot clay pigeons and so a party was got up and out of the scenes of Downton Abbey they all hiked to a back lawn (one of many I assume) and there they had flasks of fine scotch whiskey and baskets of luxurious eats with a lot of good hearted ribbing, followed by many laughs and of course the shooting of clay disks.
The idea of a "hunt" came up by one lady in the party and at first it was treated as a jest but later it was taken seriously by the horsey set among them, and a walking hunt changed to a fox hunt since it is the season. There is a ban on hunting the real thing in Scotland I believe, so that is why they were going to do the old soaking of a rag in fox scent, move it about the countryside and then fool the dogs to thinking it's the real thing. Sporting I suppose but I commiserate with those dogs not to find anything in the thickets but an old rag that's been dragged across country.
So since it is Autumn, the Master of the Hounds and Whipper-in would have their black Barbour jackets on instead of the pink, and everyone else was required to dress informal. I never knew there was a formal and informal dress to a hunt. But this informal dressing means a rat-catcher (tweed riding jacket usually with leather patches at the elbow) with a coloured stock or tie of black or brown, and brown or, black boots with a black Barbour jacket if you are not going tweeds, being the acceptable wear and oh the flask of whiskey to go along with the look.
|Top is a riding "pink", middle is black riding jacket and bottom is tweed rat catcher|
So the day came and Wolfie was in a wee bit of quandary as he had mahoganies (for the uninitiated, those are black riding boots with mahogany or brown tops), and so while most of him was dressed in white shirt, black tie, black jacket, black helmet, black gloves, tan jodhpurs, and Stubben spurs, the boots were leading to a fashion faux pas among the horsey set. I asked him, did you run out and buy another pair? No, said he, he made do with his host's offer to borrow a pair of his blacks as they have the same size boot. OMG I said, that was close! Yup can't have that can we? Geez Marie!
|So you know what I be talking about, Mahogany boots on left, blacks on right|
The rules are these (bet you didn't think fox hunting had rules):
RULE 1 - At all costs avoid the Scottish Angus cattle -- go around. I wondered why and then realised that the cattle have long horns and boy that could hurt if one is poked in the butt as they dash through, or worse if one falls from said tall horse into cow manure, well so much for the fancy clothes.
RULE 2 - If you encounter a gate and your tall horse refuses to step over, you may dismount and open said gate, but for God's sake close it after you, so there will not be any escaping of cattle, sheep or whatever grazer is hiding in the bushes.
RULE 3 - When you do ride through said gate you shout at the top of your lungs, GATE PLEASE! to the next rider or wave your arm at them to let them know the gate will need closing. And you best hope they close it! Or YOU will be responsible for wandering livestock shitting all over estate lawns in the vicinity -- clean up is a bitch!
RULE 4 - IF you are at the open gate be ready to hold it open for the Field Master or Huntsman. You must wait for someone to close the gate in order to remount your high horse (yes, we are still on gate etiquette duty) before moving along. Knife and string in your pocket (according to the rules) is ESSENTIAL! I have to wonder what string will do to hold a gate closed against large Angus cows.
RULE 5 - Please do not get in the way of, nor hold up vehicular traffic. Let them go first OR you might find yourself being peeled off the pavement with horse long gone down the road. Walking back is a longgg journey especially when one is sore from being tossed off a tall horse!
RULE 6 - IF you come upon cattle in a field go AROUND them do not stampede through fences and open gates with them. The reason is self explanatory.
RULE 7 - Do not gallop down wet grassy hills or you may lose your life if your big horse takes a tumble on the wet turf with you head first over and well you can imagine the rest. BUT DO keep to the edge of newly sown fields of young grass and hope the landowner doesn't catch you! Bird shot hurts.
RULE 8 - If you should cause damage to a fence, gate or jump, you MUST report it to the Field Master and have your cheque book ready.
RULE 9 - Last rule and probably the most important: Have a good insurance policy because you could suffer catastrophic injury or worse (we don't have to name worse, you know what that is), to cover not only your neck, but damage to fence, property, horse (if it isn't yours), and delivery of your sorry self to casualty by ambulance or worse hearse to funeral home.
Good luck cowboy!
So this he tells me laughing the whole time and I be thinking, "Wolfie, you risk taker, are you crazy or do you just like to look handsome on a tall horse? That beside the point, and off they all go.
|Courtesy Christopher Pledger for the Telegraph|
|Which way? Courtesy BBC|
Without any adieu Wolfie and daughter made it to the place both pack of dogs and hound masters were waiting. No one else was there. Their group they were told was in the countryside and probably would arrive in half an hour, the Saboteurs, same thing. Have gained the rag and acknowledged the winners of the bet, Wolfie and daughter headed back, but realised the town road was just beyond the field and so rode onto that to follow it home.
Now here's the crux of his story. As they are making their way down the road there is a wildlife refuge of sorts. A man was out in the middle of the dirt road in a quandary, a wild African dog had got loose because some hunt rider had opened his gate not knowing it was the dog's compound, and then made the cardinal sin of not closing it. Thus, wild dog out and about (or aboot as they say in Scotland).
Wolfie offered to let the man know if they saw it and off they pulled on down the road. Now here is where it gets dicey, as the two are approaching a lane that leads off to the village, a rather large dog with strange markings comes bounding over and jumping at the horses. Wolfie said, it was not acting aggressively, but like it was happy to see them.
"I wonder what kind of dog that is," quips his daughter controlling her horse who was trotting and then walking as dog came near and then backed off.
"That dog is the African dog," Wolfie instructed having lived in South Africa he knew what they looked like.
"Yes, I see it now," says daughter, "it looks like a hyena."
Meanwhile, happy dog is thrilled to be in their company and was trotting alongside, tongue lolling out with occasional adoring glances at the humans it had adopted.
"Should we turn round and hope it follows us back to it's owner?" Daughter says rather worried the carnivorous thing doesn't turn suddenly hungry.
"I should think not," Wolfie says focusing on the dog's mouth and sharp teeth.
It was then a passing motorist slowed down and with a bemused smile shouted to Wolfie, "Hey mate, what kind of dog is that?"
Not missing a beat and flashing a spotless white grin, Wolfie replied, "Why that's a digeroo took first place in new breed at Westminster three years ago."
"He's quite something," responds the motorist. "you looking to sell him?"
That gave the Wolf pause, he looked at daughter who shook her head, her eyes beginning to bug out of her head.
"Sure!" Wolfie says much to her chagrin. "I'll give him to you cheap as he's worth quite a bit, and seeing I have six more at home, how does 2000£ go by you? Do it on the cheap since I have no papers with me and will not sell him with."
"SOLD!" The man shouts and stops the car and peels out 2000£ notes and with extraordinary ease shooes the so-called digeroo into the back of his motor and drives off a happy man with a grinning digeroo.
"Da, you didn't just do that!" Shouts the incredulous daughter. "WHAT IF . . . what if . . ." She couldn't get the horror out of her mouth to form words.
"Be fine," says Wolfie, "I am leaving tonight so . . . no harm no foul. Besides on my way to airport I will leave the man who's animal it is an explanation of who has him and the 2000£. That make you feel better?"
"Not really," she muttered thinking about it all.
He did as he said, or so he says, and on his daughter checking the news reports everyday, there is no story on said wild dog eating it's new owner. She sits in dread before the telly she tells her father. He, is very cavalier and says having had experience with said wild dogs, once domesticated they are like all others and this one, was particularly happy to be in human company. Defends his action by further saying, "dog" will have a better life not being caged. Ok Wolfie, let us hope "dog" does not revert to past behaviour and goes on a feeding rampage in London or wherever he has motored off to. I tell ya!
|I ask ya, does this NOT look UNUSUAL to you?|
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