Welcome to the Staff College Drag Hunt!
Please use the menu to have a look around our website.
If you have any questions, please contact our friendly Drag Hunt Secretaries
Jessica Telford & Sophie Gregory email@example.com
Jess - 07801 670293, Sophie - 07798 588363
You can also find us on Facebook & Instagram by clicking here:
How To Come Drag Hunting With Us
We pride ourselves on being an inclusive and friendly drag hunt where everyone is welcome from newcomers to seasoned hunters to children, so don't be scared about trying our sport - it really is the MOST fun you can have on your horse!
1. Have a look at the Meet Card page of our website and choose which Meet you would like to come to.
2. Email our Hunt Secretaries Sophie and Jess at firstname.lastname@example.org asking if you may book in for that Meet. If you've never been drag hunting before let them know, and also tell them a little about yourself and your horse. You can also ask any questions you may have.
3. Sophie and Jess will tell you if there is space at the Meet and if so, send you bank details for payment of your cap. Payment of your cap secures your place on the drag hunt, so please send it promptly.
4. Fill in a disclaimer by going to the Disclaimer page on the website - you can fill this in very easily online. We only need one of these per season (not per Meet).
5. Download the What3words app onto your phone - we will put up addresses for our Meets but often the postcode doesn't get you to the right place but the What3words reference always will!
6. Make sure you know what to wear and how to turn out your horse. As a pack whose history is steeped in the tradition of the British Army, and whose hounds are kennelled at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, we take pride in ensuring that our turnout is correct. Full details are on the What To Wear page of our website.
7. Read the What To Expect and Etiquette pages of the website so you know how to behave and keep safe.
8. Finally, email Sophie and Jess if you have any questions and enjoy a fantastic day out!
Flying Through The First Half Of The Season!
Phew! What a fantastic first half of the season we have had!
There have been so may highlights that it's hard to pick out just a few...
We were delighted to be able to return to the prestigious Four Seasons Hotel for our Opening and New Year's Day Meets where riders enjoyed drag hunting around the parkland and surrounding farms, including the famous Swan's Farm hedges.
Speaking of hedges, the Masters have been working hard with Huntsman Stephen Hall putting in new fences for this season which now include a new ring of hedges at our Paley Street Meet, and some introductory small hedges at a new Meet at Spencers Wood.
For Remembrance Day, we were honoured to meet inside the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst before heading out onto Barossa to enjoy the many and varied jumps there.
From the Military Meets at Barossa and Minley to the rolling countryside at Itchen Down and Elvetham Estate, we are truly thankful to our landowners for inviting us to drag hunt across their country and can't wait to enjoy the second half of the season!
Opening Meet 2021 2022 Season
And we're off!
Thank you to everyone who came to our Opening Meet at the prestigious Four Season Hotel on Sunday 10th October. A large field of riders enjoyed a stirrup cup and a catch up with drag hunting buddies before the off.
Jess Telford MDH welcomed attendees before reciting some verse about the English countryside to get everyone in the mood. The hounds were flying and in fine voice and riders enjoyed crossing some beautiful country, including the famous Swan's Farm hedges. We are now up and running, drag hunting every Sunday until March, so if you'd like to join us, take a look at the Meet Card page of the website and then email our Hunt Secretaries to book in. Kick on!
The English Grass
Come, horseman all from every field
And taste this rare delight!
And see what English pastures yield
To those who's hearts beat right!
Come, haste a quaff the stirrup cup!
Turn down the empty glass!
The horn is blown, the hunt is up
And here's our English grass!
And here are runners swift to find
And fences strong to break,
And here are double steep and blind
That try the best to take,
And dappled hounds to keep in sight
And rivals you must pass
Before the long October night
Enshrouds the English grass!
The meadows stretch from stream to stream,
Close-bitten, firm, and sound;
No stubble stands, no plough man's team
Rips up the ravaged ground;
But level far as eye can see
Like smooth green-tinted glass,
A battle-ground for bravery,
Is spread the English grass.
Though thorns be thick, though binders lace,
Though stout be stile and rail,
Though nought but blood can live the pace,
And nought but pluck prevail,
The call's to all, the field is fair
To every creed and class;
So draw your girths, all ye who dare,
And ride the English grass!
Staff College Drag Hunt Ball
We are delighted to announce that tickets are now on sale for our Hunt Ball taking place on Friday 21st January 2022! The theme for this season’s ball will be Kings and Queens. This year, we will be moving the venue to the home of our Opening Meet – the spectacular Four Seasons Hotel in Dogmersfield.
Numbers will be limited and tickets will be released on a first come first served basis so don't delay in securing your ticket to the party of the year!
Full details about the Ball can be found by clicking here:
Hound Exercises & the Champagne Breakfast Ride
Thank you to everyone who came to our pre-season hound exercises which have been running on Wednesdays and Sundays since the beginning of August. Hound exercise is the perfect way to get your horse fit for hunting and is also great for newcomers to introduce their horse to hounds in a more sedate environment.
Lots of riders have joined us over the last few weeks culminating in a very special hound exercise on 26th September 2021 - the Champagne Breakfast Ride. Riders enjoyed a glass of fizz and a pastry before setting off to ride around the beautiful countryside at Itchen Abbas with some lovely long canters and some hunt jumps to enjoy along the way! Afterwards, Jayde Payne from the HSC and Mum Debbie Payne cooked up a storm and fed riders breakfast baps on their return.
Thanks to everyone who came…next stop: Opening Meet!
Minley Fun Ride - 3rd October 2021 *SOLD OUT*
This is a fabulous ride of approximately 10 miles through beautiful forestry with a large range of optional jumps ranging from 1’6” to 3’.
Can you help? We need an army of volunteers to be able to run this ride! If you are able to give up a day to help us with this important fundraiser we will be eternally grateful. We'll need you from about 8:30am - 3pm and you will be supplied with food, drinks and a thank you present. If you are able to help, please contact Jade Payne by messenger or email to email@example.com Thank you!
Puppy Show 26th June 2021
The Masters had grand plans for our Puppy Show this Summer; after last year's lockdown we had two litters of puppies to show for 2021. Unfortunately, due to ongoing government restrictions, it ended up needing to be a more scaled-down affair. We were, however, delighted to welcome our puppy walkers to a lunch at kennels, followed by a traditional Puppy Show where Huntsman Stephen Hall and son Ben presented our puppies to judges Christopher Austin MFH (Kimblewick Hunt) and Oliver Thompson, Huntsman Old Berks Hunt.
Dog Hounds, Entered 2020 - 1st Dannatt
Dogs Hounds, Entered 2021 - 1st Lawless
Best Dog Hound - Lawless
Bitches, Entered 2020 - 1st Dashwood
Bitches, Entered 2021 - 1st Lapwing
Best Bitch - Dashwood
Overall Champion Hound - Lawless
Lawless (L) & Dashwood (R)
Hunt Camp, June 2021
Back at the start of June, organisers Vic Ruffy and Jade Payne were Costco bound to stock up on supplies ready for the Staff College Drag Hunt inaugural hunt camp! The event took place at Bucklebury Equestrian and we were blessed with epic weather...at least for the first 24 hours.
Proceedings started with a BBQ and welcome drinks which was a wonderful way for everyone to catch up with their hunt buddies before the serious riding took place. We say serious riding... but some certainly took it more seriously than others! (Here’s looking at you Rachel Corry with your award for ‘Most Relaxed Rider at Camp’.)
The first session took place in the paddock where instructor Mandy Hall took two groups for assessment and advice before hitting the cross country field in the afternoon. After a quick pit stop for a delicious lunch, riders headed out to jump logs, pheasant feeders, skinnies and ditches but by far everyone’s favourite part was leaping into the water (with their Brave Pants firmly ON). Afterwards a few people snuck off to the ford and went on a jaunt along the stream to cool ponies off whilst others hacked around the beautiful grounds finding the seriously big jumps!
That evening riders tucked into wine and a very impressive fish and chip supper as Mandy hosted a talk on hunting attire and etiquette - ably assisted by good sports Jade (dressed in correct hunting attire) and Vic (dressed in 'what not to wear'). Much hilarity ensued!
The final day was all about showing and this is where the serious riders mentioned above came into their own. Stirling performances were given in the afternoon’s Working Hunter Show from subscribers Andrew Potter, Laura Wright, Sasha Dabliz, Roger and Sarah Edmunds and Juliet Pascall. However it was our ‘visitors’ who stole the show with Jennie Daniels taking first place and Laura Elliott second.
Thank you to everyone who came along to support our first ever Hunt Camp and a special thanks to organisers Vic Ruffy and Jade Payne and to instructor Mandy Hall for making this event such a huge success!
Watch this space as we shall certainly be looking to host again next year!
Subscriptions 2021/22 Season
Subscriptions for the new season are now due and we also have a non-riding subscription for those who enjoy regularly following the Hunt. Please see the Subscriptions & Cap page of the website for details of prices. Please contact Jess & Sophie our Joint Hunt Secs if you have any questions firstname.lastname@example.org
So what does your subscription pay for? Staff College Drag Hunt is a 'not for profits' limited company run by a team of unpaid volunteers and ALL money raised from subscriptions (and other fundraisers) goes into running the Hunt - for example - feeding the hounds, employing Stephen our Huntsman, running the kennels and building and maintaining the fences for you all to enjoy jumping over on a day out in our wonderful country. We also have a policy of 'everybody pays' in this Hunt, which means that all of the Masters, leadership team and Hunt Secs pay a subscription the same as everybody else. We all believe that our Hunt is something worth investing in and have enjoyed watching it go from strength to strength over the last couple of years.
Despite everything that the 2020/2021 season threw at us, Staff College Drag Hunt continues to thrive and we are incredibly excited about the new season. We have you, our wonderful supporters, to thank for that and now can't wait until the Opening Meet!
Welcome to the 2021/2022 Season!
It gives us great pleasure to officially welcome everyone to the 2021/2022 Drag Hunt season! Of course, it barely seems a few days since we wrapped up last season with a fabulous day out at Itchen Down Farm, but this season has been far from ordinary!
Work has already begun behind the scenes for the season in front of us, but before we get that far there is a very full program of events planned for this summer. Please do remember to check the Forthcoming Events page of the website and social media for updates. The dates for various beach rides and guided rides, along with the Drag Hunt camp and Hunt Scurry have already been announced with the dates for more events, notably the Puppy Show, and fingers crossed a Summer Party, to follow soon!
As all of you are well aware, the Drag Hunt does not organise itself! There is a huge amount of effort that goes on in the background to enable the organisation to function year-round. We are incredibly lucky to have such a hard-working and professional Huntsman in Stephen and along with Mandy and Ben the team at the kennels continues to do an outstanding job with the hounds.
As the Drag Hunt continues to grow, we have been fortunate for this coming season to be able to add some further support to several aspects of the organisational structure.
For a long time, the position of Chairman has been left unfilled, and we are excited to announce that Ash Hambridge has agreed to adopt this new role going forward.
Caroline Bullen too is moving on from the Mastership after many years of dedicated service to enjoy her hunting without all of the additional duties that organising the day involves. Caroline has been a Master for many years, and the contribution that she has made to this hunt over that time cannot be overstated. Without all of her hard work and dedication the shape of the hunt would be very different indeed, and we would certainly not be in the rude health that we are today. On behalf of everyone at the Staff College Drag Hunt we would like to thank Caroline for the countless hours of work, commitment and generosity that she has shown over such a long period of time.
As a result of these two moves, joining the Mastership this season we have two faces that I am sure will be familiar to some, if not all of you!
First of all, we are delighted to announce that Stuart MacTaggart has accepted our invitation to join the team. Stuart and his wife Vicky have a very long association with our drag hunt. They are one of our most supportive landowners in the Binfield part of the country and many of you will have ridden from their farm at Paley Street and experienced not only some nice hedges whilst on horseback but their fabulous hospitality at hunt tea! Stuart brings with him a wealth of hunting experience, bold horsemanship and a cracking sense of humour and we are sure we will have great fun as he leads us round the country!
Also joining the Mastership this year will be Jess Telford. All of you will know Jess from her many years of service as our formidable Honorary Hunt Secretary, and Jess will keep some of her duties in this area whilst taking on her new role. This is a very exciting move for Jess who for a couple of years was without a horse of her own to hunt on a regular basis, and who over the last two seasons has been quietly educating her cracking new horse Sam. For those of you out last season you will have noticed that Sam and Jess have taken to the role of Field Master fantastically, so expect to see a lot more of this pair up front!
Finally, we thought it would be a little unfair to ask Jess to fulfil both the role of Master and Secretary without any assistance, and so it is with great pleasure that we can announce that Major Sophie Gregory will be our new Joint Honorary Secretary.
Welcome to your new roles all of you! We are sure you will agree this is a formidable team to lead the Drag Hunt through the seasons to come.
Thank you again to everyone who has supported our drag hunt and we are very much looking forward to seeing everyone over the Summer months and then out on the hunting field at Opening Meet in October!
Stuart MacTaggart MDH
Jess Telford MDH
Joint Hon Secretary
Major Sophie Gregory
Joint Hon Secretary
End Of Season Awards
For the 2020/2021 season, the Masters have chosen three awards to present: The Masters' Cup, Best Turned Out, and the Tumblers' Cup. Here are the results!
***WINNER - MASTERS' CUP ***
This award is for the horse that the Masters would most like to take for a day's drag hunting. The Masters have been carefully casting their eyes over the field this past season and looking out for the horse that always gives their rider a super day out and puts the biggest of smiles on their rider's face.
The nominees were: Christie (Georgette Green), Pea (Holly Smith), Badger (Sophie Denovan), Banjo (Mandy Hall).
The decision on the winner was unanimous - the Masters have chosen the much missed Banjo Hall as the worthy recipient of the Masters' Cup. Congratulations Mandy Hall, Banjo will be fondly remembered by all of us as the perfect hunt horse.
***WINNER - BEST TURNED OUT ***
This award is for the person who always makes 100% effort to look their best on a day out with us. Being correctly attired on a clean, plaited horse is of the utmost importance when drag hunting - it is a sign of respect to the landowners and farmers who's land we are very privileged to cross and it upholds the traditions of our military affiliated pack. Thank you to everyone who makes the effort week in, week out - we know all too well the joys (!) of bathing horses in the winter months and cleaning mud splattered tack and riding kit.
The nominees were: Sarah Hayward, Laura Wright, Juliet Pascall, Sarah Edmunds, Andrew Potter, Holly Smith.
The Masters are delighted to announce that they have chosen Juliet Pascall as the winner of the Best Turned Out Award. Juliet is always looks fantastic, with not a hair out of place, a perfectly tied stock and polished boots. She drag hunts on a bright chestnut horse who sports the most beautiful, neat plaits. Congratulations Juliet, and thank you for always making such an effort!
***WINNER - TUMBLERS' CUP ***
There are always a large number of contenders for this award and we thank everyone who has drag hunted, and face-planted from their horse, this season!
This award can be given to someone who has fallen many times during the season, or to someone who has only fallen off once, but done it with great style.
The nominees were: Sasha Randall, Daveyjoe Smith, Perdy Dabliz, Laura Dickson, Will Kelly, Georgie Warden, Ellie Lethaby.
The winner is the faller that showed supreme commitment to maintaining the correct riding position, even when inverted by 180 degrees. So it gives the Masters great pleasure to award the 2020/2021 Tumblers' Cup to Perdy Dabliz for her fall over the famous (infamous?) Swan's Farm hedges. As you can see from the photo, Perdy provided Ellie Osborne with the opportunity to capture the perfect riding position, albeit completely upside down. Huge congratulation to Perdy and thanks for always being such a good sport!
That's a wrap folks!
With our Closing Meet on 25th April, we are now approaching the end of the 2020/2021 season. For the second year running, we have had a rather challenging time of it so must offer huge thanks to everyone who has made it possible: to the Masters who have fought tooth and nail to put on as many drag hunting days as possible, to our wonderfully supportive farmers and landowners who allow us to cross their beautiful country, to our Huntsman Stephen Hall who has kept the hounds in tip top condition, to the Directors, Hon Sec, HSC and everyone behind the scenes who keep the cogs turning and, of course to our fantastic Subscribers who support us through thick and thin. Thank you everyone for making a day out with our Drag Hunt the most fun thing you can do on a Sunday! Roll on next season!
Photos by Ellie Osborne from the last 4 Meets we managed to squeeze in: