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What is Drag Hunting?
Nothing chased, nothing caught!
The objective of Drag Hunting is the joy of following hounds across country on horseback with lots of fences to jump on the way. Hounds follow an artificial scent traditionally laid by a runner dragging a bag soaked in ‘the smell’. Today, the scent is normally dragged behind a quad bike. Nothing is chased and nothing is caught.
The Staff College Drag Hunt is based at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst in Camberley. During the autumn & winter season, we hunt every Sunday and occasional Wednesdays in the beautiful countryside of Surrey, Hampshire and Berkshire.
"Hold Them Back Rammer!"
Painting of the Staff College Drag Hunt by Snaffles
400 years in the making!
Britain has a long tradition of hunting on horseback. Until the 1600s this was focused on stag hunting and deer. From the 1660s fox hunting began to take over. Gentlemen and farming squires kept their own packs of fox hounds and invited guests to join them in the thrill of the chase.
Part of the training of fox hounds was to lay a trail-scent to observe their speed and performance. Before long the competitive owners of fox packs adapted this training system to become a new and highly entertaining sport.
Trail scents began as foxhound contests which could be easily watched as one hunt pitted its prowess against another. It was not long before people realised it would be fun to follow on horseback and enjoy the fast and furious pursuit.
The convenience and fun of riding to hounds across country with a number of testing obstacles to be negotiated along the way became increasingly attractive. Oxford and Cambridge Universities were among the first to form packs of draghounds in the early 1800s. The army soon followed.
A long and proud military history
For the soldier, the relatively short amount of time needed for draghunting and the intensity of excitement had a very special appeal. A number of military draghunt packs were founded from 1861onwards.
The Staff College Drag was formed in 1869 by officers of the Staff College along with staff and cadets of Sandhurst. The fun was furious and the sport exhilarating. At Sandhurst, the Drag was considered to be ‘quite the most important part of the curriculum’. Rumour had it that those who did not go hard with the Drag stood little chance of a staff job. Such was the enthusiasm for draghunting within the military that after the second-world-war some regiments stationed in Germany and Italy maintained their own packs of drag hounds.
Drag Hunting Today
A modern and progressive hunt
Today the Staff College Drag Hunt is a thriving community. We pride ourselves on being very friendly and welcoming. Everyone is invited to join us, no matter what their age or level of hunting experience. We particularly welcome children and parents, and those who have never hunted before - come and join in the fun!
We also have a large number of non-riding members of the draghunt - our 'foot-followers' - who come along to watch, support, (laugh?) and enjoy the spectacle of the day. Everyone is welcome!
We have a full diary year round. This includes the dates of all our drag hunting days and also our social events to which everyone is invited.
The most important event is the Farmers’ Dinner held at the end of the Season. The Drag Hunt’s first Farmers’ Dinner was held in 1924. This is our opportunity to thank our farmers and landowners for allowing us to cross their land. Without their support, there would be no draghunting.
And, of course, every hunt must have a Hunt Ball. This is a splendid occasion for hunting friends from far and wide to party.
A vibrant Hunt Supporters’ Club is vital to the fundraising and social life of the Drag Hunt. Riders and non-riders, family and friends are welcome to join. The HSC organises hugely popular fun rides which are open to the general riding community. Clay pigeon shoots, quizzes, race evenings and informal pub socials add to the fun.