I was constantly urged to run faster 'gallop mummy, we need to keep up' - Jill Thorp

Jill took John William hunting for the first time.
Jill took John William hunting for the first time.
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The brave pants came out at the weekend and we went hunting

Bren was loaded on to the wagon, thermals and a hot flask packed and we set off for John-William’s first experience of following the hounds.

Despite feeling confident, I informed him that he would be on a lead rope until Bren had got over the initial excitement of open fields, lots of other horses and of course that hauntingly emotive call of the horn. Unfortunately, the weather couldn’t behave itself and we got wet, really wet.

From the minute we dropped the ramp to loading a tired and mud splattered pony back onto the wagon, the heavens opened and a torrential downpour soaked us to the bone. The land proved to be heavy clay that sucked my boots down and held them firmly before a sharp yank pulled them free.

The strap that I had placed around Bren’s neck as an extra grab handle for John-William became my saving grace on several occasions. Desperate to stay up front with the hounds, I was constantly urged to run faster, “gallop mummy, we need to keep up”. Even Bren, caught up in the exhilarating rush of following the pack seemed to be willing me on.

My legs frantically worked against the ever slippery, squelchy mud to propel me forward. We stayed on well after most of the field had headed home.

John-William was desperate to see where the pre-laid trail led but when a few die-hards headed off towards a distant hillside, I called time on our adventure. It was a long old trudge back to the wagon, especially with the adrenaline fast leaving our bodies. We were all covered head to toe in mud.

It’s been many years since I followed this very same pack. I was lucky enough to have a pony that was safe, reliable and courageously brave. Many things have changed in the preceding thirty years, some might say for the better.

Sadly, good manners and etiquette certainly seemed to have slipped, to be replaced with a rather free-for-all approach. Unfortunately, this appears to be the case with many aspects of an increasingly fast moving, modern society.

Most of our calves have now been sold. A returning customer, pleased with past purchases from us came to view them and they will soon be heading to East Yorkshire. Once they’ve gone the shed will be mucked out, disinfected and the lambing pens set up.

The first batch of ewes will be scanned next week which means can after can of marker spray will be liberally applied. The fields will soon be full of brightly coloured fleeces and I expect plenty of wobbly red ‘JW’s will appear on the sides of many. There is no limit to my husband’s artistic side where marker spray is concerned.

As John-William views most things as a competition, no fleece is safe. Both of them end up wearing ‘war paint’ by the end of the day which John-William wears proudly as he heads off to school after a weekend of marker spraying!