Fox Hunting Life with Horse and Hound
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FHL WEEK, Nov. 18, 2022

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Revisiting Opening Meet

Hunt Reports

Mission Valley IMG 2093 Olivia Daniella med2022 Opening Meet of Mission Valley Hunt. Photo by Olivia Daniella Photography.

Kansas photographer Olivia Danielle Long attended Mission Valley Hunt’s 2022 Opening Meet at the Fin and Feather fixture in Kansas, and it brought it back memories of foxhunting as a teenager.

 

Foxhunting has been a part of my life since I was a teen. My instructor would take us every couple of weeks, and it was always a blast to get up at 4:00 am, get to the barn at 5:00 am to then leave and arrive at the meet just before 8:00 am. And this past weekend for Mission Valley’s Opening Hunt, even though I was on the photographer’s side of the lens, it wasn’t much different. A snowstorm replaced the rain on my way to Mission Valley’s clubhouse and made me question my wardrobe and life decisions in general. Thankfully the snow stopped, and the day looked promising, but it was still drizzling while I took candids of hunt members in their cozy overalls and horses in their leopard print slickers.

The Blessing of the Hounds was short, sweet, and special, and before I knew it the hunt was off. My four-wheel-drive steed was driven and directed by some of the best, and we followed along the best we could in those Kansas hills. We chased them in and out of fields and trees, picking the best angles and vantage points we could. There were some sightings of a coyote, then a great champagne break, to end on a great second half of the hunt. Since I wasn’t hanging on to a hot horse for dear life, the day seemed to go surprisingly fast, and as if my camera clicks were a ticking clock it was over and time for breakfast. The nostalgia of the days of my youth echoes with the braying hounds and laughter of members in the hills, followed by the sounds of the horn. Photographing the hunt itself is tough, but what makes it easier is feeling the day in its brilliant sights, memorable sounds, and hounds.

Mission Valley IMG 2104 Olivia Daniella med2022 Opening Meet for Mission Valley Hunt. Photo by Olivia Daniella Photography.

The gallery of her photos of the day can be found here: Mission Valley Opening Meet November 5th, 2022 by Olivia Danielle Photography (pixieset.com)

Mission Valley IMG 1627 Olivia Daniella med2022 Opening Meet of Mission Valley Hunt. Photo by Olivia Daniella Photography.

Editor’s Note: As a former Master, I can attest to the huge logistical undertaking that an Opening Meet involves. Out of all the Opening Meets I’ve attended, there is one that I will never forget. I usually hauled a group of my riding students to our Opening Meets, and they would help me prep the day before. One year, one of my students, a teenager, painted black stripes on my white pony just for fun, not realizing that the paint would leave stains on the clipped white hair until spring. The black stripes won despite five bathes with bluing shampoo and threatening a year’s worth of no-stirrup lessons for the said teenager. So, with as much dignity as I could muster, I brought a zebra to Opening Meet. That teenager with a panache for zebras? I shall keep her name a secret, but it rhymes with Olivia Danielle Long.

 

Originally published on November 13, 2022.

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