We were told to get there by "half ten" or it would not be possible to find a place in front of the
castle. In a light drizzle they began to arrive, leaving their horseboxes parked on the outskirts
Oddly. It was mostly young women in the saddles.
I don't know very much about horses but they did seem to me an outstanding bunch.
I adore a white speckled horse. And leggy, furry dogs too.
The riders were very relaxed, unlike those at a previous hunt gathering that I've witnessed (near
Mr. Paradis' hometown) there was none of the tension of strict discipline and anticipation of a "kill".
Instead it seemed a friendly group of neighbors gathering for a bracing ride.
Father Christmas was there.
As were quite a few young riders from the local pony club.
The horses were gorgeously groomed and shaved. (Tho' I can't tell you what the purpose of the shaving is.)
And no two looked the same. Perhaps a way of "I.D.-ing" in the chaos of the hunt?
This dark beauty was letting it all hang out with her fountain of tail and fringy fetlocks.
In this hunt it only seems to be the Master of the Hunt and the Master of Hounds in "pink" coats.
But some wore tinsel on their hats and plaited into their horse's manes and tails. For color and cheer.
Instead of the hounds being kept in a tight pack in the center of the town square.
They were allowed to run a bit free in the little park in front of the castle.
Accepting pets and cuddles from some that they already knew and some not so familiar.
I cannot tell you who owns them and where they are all kept. Only that we did not receive curious and welcoming sniffs and offers to be petted. Apparently the Paradis family did not smell "local" enough.
For an hour or so there was milling about and chatting and much admiring done.
Everyone was very friendly and still in the glow of the Christmas spirit.
Mlle Paradis should have been chattier and asked more questions but she was too busy trying to get a good shot, and staying well out from under foot and ominously lifted tail........
As a prolonged wait for stragglers carried on....it became time to turn the camera to the shorter-legged
parties. Who no doubt were a bit jealous that they weren't going hunting too.
And seriously, I cancelled all my Westminster and Cruft's dog show reservations after this. Who needs 'em? I've seen every sort of lovely dog now!
Oh, and as time went on it was necessary to also avoid a fair amount of this. Although a nice man told me it would be "good luck" to step in it. I told him: "Better it be your luck - than mine!"
And then suddenly, a signal. I never heard a horn....or a whistle.
But the stillness and calm was transformed into
a RUSH and a flurry. And then they were away. Out to the hills and fields.
And the Paradis family were in the wrong place to wave off the galloping powerful receding hoofs.
So it was back to dog-shopping. (And time to find a pub!) We were very well satisfied with the hunt. For lazier onlookers with our feet on the ground, it was a very nice way to usher in a New Year.