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Fox Hunting Drags

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Hunting territories

They have been located since the last century on the lands of the communes of the Béarn cantons of Pau, Morlaàs and Thèze. The British had simply attached them to the Crown of England. 

By a singular topographic mutation, the canton of Morlaàs became Leicestershire, that of Pau the Old England and the lands of Thèze and Arthez the Hill District.

The Pau Hunt pack

It is made up of about ten males and four females, of Anglo-French origin with a regular and significant supply of Fox Hound blood through the acquisition of subjects from Galway Blazers.

She is sheltered at the Chenil de Berlanne.

 

The course of a Drag

Saturday ! at the end of the morning begins the Drag. It is a track, the scent, carried out in the early morning by two Dragueurs on foot dragging behind them a bag impregnated with fox urine. Avoiding cultivated land, herds and busy roads, our two friends will thus complete more than fifteen kilometers to find us the greatest number of ditches, embankments and streams that they themselves will have crossed and climbed!

Midday ! The village square suddenly came alive. Riders' vans, riding club trucks, pack vans, the crew arrives at the rendezvous. Obligatory meeting point: the inn of the square where the hunter's meal will be held in a few hours. The Master and the Joint Master talk with the mayor of the commune and the local president of the hunting society, the school children watch with amused interest this unusual deployment of dogs, in red or black coats.

The guests are introduced to the Boatswain. The bridges are lowered, the horses come out of their vans, all harnessed, the manes are plaited, the hooves greased and the leathers soaped.

Half past twelve ! The Master is on horseback, whip in one hand, reins in the other. The dogs are landed, the Huntsman's cry to put them under the whip. Everyone gets in the saddle and the adventure can begin.

Preceded by the Master, framed by the Huntsman and the Joint Master, the pack trots towards the start. Then comes the Field Master who gives some advice of caution and the rules of Drag to the riders who follow him. Finally, at the pace of a man or a horse, the following cars where friends, families, curious people and locals pile up. Suddenly, alone, at a canter, the Master heads towards a field where he knows how to find the start of the "track".

departure

TALLY-HO! 

Hand bomb the Master rows on the Drag. Barking of rushing dogs, shrill sounds of the born, the trumpet of the Huntsman, excitement of the horses, the Field starts at steeplechase. Sticking to the running hounds, the Master and his Huntsman gallop. They will have the sometimes brutal privilege of being the first to discover the fragility of an embankment or the width of a stream.

Further on, a few hundred meters away, the Field brings together the members of the crew, their guests and the riders of the horse clubs to approach the ditches, the embankments at a gallop.

 

Counter-low, counter-high!

Counter-low? Counter-low! cries taken up by the Joint master and those who follow him. The Bosun announces the arrival of high and pointed embankments annoyingly hiding the wide covered ditch. Falls sometimes... and exclamations of the lucky ones. The train continues, new embankments, new ditches and? new drops...

The dogs cross a local road lined with obstacles; it is the "passage of the road" to the great joy of friends and curious posted at this place. Three quarters of an hour of galloping... the horses are getting tired. we come to a defect. The Master has the dogs cut. Horses, dogs and riders will be able to huff and regroup. His  recommendations sound loud and clear... Avoid the meadows! gallop along the edge! Watch out for barbed wire! Don't jump behind each other... Tally-Ho! the pack is relaunched, the halt is over.

The continuation of the course is done at accelerated paces, the dogs are again under the whip, direction the kennel.

It's retirement! And all together, happy, muddy, sometimes scratched, the Crew and their friends wisely set off for the rendezvous where the local inn awaits them.

Sport, Horse, Nature!

All together, galloping behind the Pau Hounds on a cold and sunny December day, in front of the grandiose panorama of our snow-covered Pyrenees, the crew always has the fleeting impression of having been, for a moment, the worthy successors of these English and American sportsmen who made Pau the elegant capital of the "Horse".