Newcomers saddle up for taste of hunt

The hounds eye up Francis Cromaghty's lunch following the hunt.
The hounds eye up Francis Cromaghty's lunch following the hunt.

First-time followers of the Jed Forest Hunt were given a taste of its activities and traditions at the weekend at its annual newcomers’ day.

Riders completely new to fox-hunting were invited along to its kennels near Bonchester Bridge to try out the sport under the guidance of master huntsman Johnny Riley.

Gavin Scott with Edwina Stacy-Marks and her son Rowan.

Gavin Scott with Edwina Stacy-Marks and her son Rowan.

He said: “Our aim in hosting this event is to encourage people who may have long fancied a day with us to saddle up and join in.

“This year’s newcomers day was attended by a host of young people from the local towns of Hawick and Selkirk, as well as the surrounding areas of our kennels.

“Hunting with hounds and the operations in which we as an organisation are employed are irrelevant to those partaking in riding to hounds.

“On the one side, you have a pest control service, combining traditional and modern tactics, and on the other you have a recreational activity which enables riders to enjoy a true cross-country experience like no other.”

Leah Graham from Crailing and Emma Craig from Kelso at the newcomers hunt.

Leah Graham from Crailing and Emma Craig from Kelso at the newcomers hunt.

The morning concluded with a talk and guided tour around the kennels at Abbotrule.

Hoping the day has attracted a few new members, Johnny added: “You do not simply go hunting for a couple of days a season – you become a hunting household. Your life revolves around it. Once you are fortunate enough to discover hunting, that is it.”

Huntsman Johnny Riley leads the hounds and riders on Saturday.

Huntsman Johnny Riley leads the hounds and riders on Saturday.

Joel Campbell from Selkirk with master of the foxhounds Johnny Riley.

Joel Campbell from Selkirk with master of the foxhounds Johnny Riley.