What is Drag Hunting
Drag hunting is quite possibly the most fun you can have
with your horse! It doesn't involve hunting an animal, instead
the hounds follow an artificial scent - the drag - laid a
few minutes earlier.
A drag hunt is similar in nature to a fast cross country
ride and takes place over a predetermined course or line.
A line can last anywhere between 3 and 4 hours and is made
up of 4 to 8 legs, each covering a distance of around 3 to
4 miles. Between each leg the hounds, the riders and horses
take a much needed breather.
Lines are usually on open countryside with jumps that include
post and rail fences, stone walls, hedges and ditches. The
aim is to ensure that both riders with grade A show jumpers
and those with riding club horses can get round and enjoy
the day, so big obstacles are never compulsory - there is
always a way around them.
At the start of each leg the scent layers - or lines people
- ride the leg first to lay the scent (which is painted on
the horse's front hooves). The Huntsman, Whippers-in and hounds
follow the scent and the Masters, Field Master and rest of
the riders, referred to as the field, follow them.
Everyone meets up at the end of the leg and, after a short
rest, the whole process starts again.
The preparation of lines is an enormous task. The person
responsible for each line and their helpers have probably
spent most of their spare time during the previous few weeks
in order to organise the line.
Who Does What
It is the Huntsman's job to look after the hounds, to provide
hounds for the day's hunting and to hunt the hounds on the
day. During a hunt, the Huntsman is supported by Whippers-in who
bring up stray hounds.
Our resident Huntsman is Mark Winter and our amateur Whippers-in are Danielle Hague and Stuart Allison.
To assist with controlling the field, one of the Joint Masters appoints
a Field Master on the day. The field must always stay behind
the Field Master and only jump obstacles allowed by the Field
The first pack of hounds consisted of a small draft from
the High Peak Hunt as well hounds from the Royal Artillery
Drag Hunt which was disbanding at the time.
We now carry out our own breeding policy and our current
pack of English Foxhounds has been bred almost exclusively
in our own kennels. The breeding of English Foxhounds has
been documented for many years and the pedigree of each hound
can be traced back to before 1800.
The hounds are kept in kennels in Woodseats Lane, Charlesworth.
When and Where We Hunt
Our hunting season is from early September to the end of
the following March. We generally hunt every Saturday in these
months with extra meets on Boxing Day and New Year's Day.
We hunt over land occupied by over 250 farmers in an area
bounded by Rochdale in the North, Leek in the South and Knutsford
in the West.