Remind me never to complain about a ditch in the U.S. again

Big bank at Scarteen Hunt
A big bank at the Scarteen Hunt

During the winter I like to watch foxhunting videos on YouTube to remind myself to look forward to spring.

These videos, however, scared the pants off me. The legendary Scarteen Hunt in Limerick, Ireland, describes its territory as “bank and ditch” country. They aren’t kidding. Those ditches are big enough to swallow a horse and rider up whole. Wait! A few do disappear into the depths. Amazingly, all seem to reappear and continue with aplomb.

I’d have to have a stiff stirrup cup, a professional hunt horse and a blindfold to hunt there!

13 thoughts on “Remind me never to complain about a ditch in the U.S. again

  1. I didn’t know I could watch a video with my eyes closed. That’s a novelty.
    Okay, trying not to judge here – so many horses in the first video banged their rear legs on the ditch it looked a more than a little hazardous to the horse’s health. I know zippo about hunting, is this considered normal?
    So not appealing to me on a personal level.

    1. No, not considered normal. At least not on this side of the pond. I have never seen anything like it and if I did see it, I don’t think it would ever cross my mind to jump it! Certainly Freedom would vote on the side of going home and calling it a day.

  2. Wow. That first one… just wow. The second was is impressive and amazing, but maybe it’s just me but I find the first one completely painful. The number of horses that went down to their knees or had their back legs collapse under them is just not good. I’m sure they’re conditioned/used to that, but I thought it was an injury just waiting to happen. I could count on one hand the number of horses that jumped the whole ditch without collapsing.

    I thought I was terrified of CCI3* but I think this has taken it’s place. Good thing I don’t plan on doing it any time soon.

  3. I’m with Literary, not appealing. I can’t even watch the video and I can’t believe there are not many casualties. I know foxhunters are a hardy bunch but this is going too far.

  4. This sort of hunting really worries me! Surely, that’s not safe! Just have to agree with Literary Horse and Jen B.
    The bit that worries me the most is that my horse is Irish, and was brought over from Ireland two months before I bought her. When in Ireland, she’d never been schooled, just sat on and hunted until she was 10! She has some awful remnants of scars on her chest and a few on her legs, and even has a white mark just above her eye that I’m pretty sure is yet another scar!
    Is this what she was subjected to?! :/
    If it is, I’m pretty pleased I haven’t hunted her in the last six years, she must’ve had enough!

    1. I don’t think that even in Ireland there are that many ditches of that scale! At least it’s hard to imagine.

  5. That’s pretty normal for hunting in Ireland (and sometimes England too, depending on which hunt you go to). My friend’s cob was imported from Ireland and hunted with the Galway from as soon as he was backed, and he has no scars or injuries from hunting. She says he’s the best horse she’s ever hunted, all she has to do is stay on and not let him overtake the Master, as he jumps everything without a second thought. Of course, he’d never been schooled and had never seen a pole before she bought him, but he was safe to hunt! As for the scars you see on hunting horses – a good hunt horse shouldn’t have scars or injuries, but if they do it’s usually because of rider error. Good hunters (at least in England) can get themselves out of pretty much any situation intact.

  6. How funny, I just posted some foxhunting videos on my page, too! I guess that’s how we spend our winters…

    You can learn a lot about equitation from these videos – quite a few horses would have made the jump more easily if their riders had been able to go with them. Instead they were behind the motion, as if they didn’t expect a big leap, and sat back on the horse far too soon!

    I really, really want to go hunting in England or Ireland now.

  7. You’re right about the equitation. Many riders didn’t help their horses at all.
    I’m impressed by how most of those horses just popped over the ditch. Even the horse that got stuck in the second video took it just fine the second time.

    However, if this makes you want to hunt in England or Ireland now you are MUCH braver than me!

  8. And yet, fewer fatalities than three-day (which you couldn’t pay me enough to do on any horse.) And looks like a lot more fun than creeping around a ring on a hothouse-flower warmblood.

    Of course, Lucky would be the horse who stops, climbs up, and kind of hops down if he ABSOLUTELY HAS TO. Jumping ANYTHING is not his bag at all.

  9. I wouldn’t take my horse hunting with any hunts that do banks and ditches like that, mostly because I’m a big scaredy cat, but also because it does look really dangerous… Surely there are more fatalaties at these sort of hunts than the “easy” hunts?
    Of course, there is the other side that the people who do this have to have the confidence to do it… Must trust their horses quite a lot!

  10. Were my husband to “let” me, I would joyfully climb aboard and enjoy the experience! Regrettably, with two spinal surgeries already, I know that I would find it very difficult to convince anyone thatdoing so was a prudent choice. I think I must have ducked out for coffee the day that God was handing out instinct for self-preservation. I have to wonder how many of those on that hunt would have chosen to go out if they had known it would be like that?

  11. I hunt in Virginia and we never do anything like this. Watched the Galloway hunt in Ireland. Didn’t see them jump any ditches like this, but those people are fearless! I wouldn’t hunt with them on a bet!

Leave a Reply