Have you ever wanted to learn more about fox hunting or wanted to try riding to hounds?

The Ottawa Valley Hunt (OVH) - a drag hunt which follows a scent, not a fox - is offering a three-part “Learn to Hunt” clinic for riders of all levels and disciplines.  Perfect for anyone who is interested in our sport and wants to give it a try. It is also a valuable refresher for current foxhunters, with the added benefit of one-on-one time with hounds and staff.  Learn more about the “why” behind the “what” we do and build your skills.  This series is a great confidence booster for everyone!  

The cost for the Learn to Hunt clinic is $169.5 with hst for all 3 parts. Separate pricing can be arranged if you cannot attend all three.  The clinic is free for OVH members.  If participants choose to join the hunt, the cost for the clinic will count towards their new membership.

Part One

Participants: Humans only – horses sit this one out!

Location: Ottawa Valley Hunt Farm, 8935 Abb Road – Off Ashton Station Road 

Date/time: Sunday, May 14, 2023, at 10:30 am 

Attire: Casual, comfortable clothes with boots or walking shoes

Join the OVH Professional Huntsman, Jamie Hughes, and his whippers-in to walk out with the OVH hounds.  Observe the amazing relationship between Jamie and his charges in action as he manages a pack of hounds with only his voice (and maybe a few treats!). After the walk, meet back at the clubhouse for sandwiches and cookies while the OVH Joint Masters and members present some interesting facts, history and etiquette for fox hunting.  

Part Two

Participants: Humans and horses

Location: Ottawa Valley Hunt Farm, 8935 Abb Road – Off Ashton Station Road 

Date/Time: Sunday, May 21, 2023, at 10:30 am

Attire: Clean and tidy, all participants must wear an approved safety helmet for mounted activities.

A day of introducing your horses to hounds.  Introduce your horse to the atmosphere gently.  There are all sorts of strange sounds and smells at the kennels.  Here is your opportunity to ease into it.  

Unload your horse in the parking field at 10:30 am.  Settle in, walk your steed in-hand and make your way to the kennels.  

We will be presenting you a stirrup-cup on foot around the yard.  This give your horses and yourselves times to get used to the place. This atmosphere should be perfect for your horses to settle into the environment.  A large part of every hunt is the stirrup-cup. This is where all hunt participants mounted and on foot are offered a beverage and on occasion a snack before the hounds come out.  It is a great time to meet fellow riders and teach your horses that they will like hunting with us.  

Once everyone is organized, our Huntsman, Jamie Hughes will introduce the hounds.

Anyone who would like to participate may mount their horses and follow the hounds around the yard.  Huntsman Jamie Hughes will be accompanied by his Whipper-ins Jill Bryant and Hilary Popiel on foot for the walk.

Afterwards we will have a “tail gate” in the parking field,  where there will be refreshments and snacks.  There will also be a Q & A with staff and OVH Joint Masters.

Part Three

Participants: Humans and Horses

Location: OVH territory

Date/Time: Sunday May 28th, 10:30 am

Attire: A hunt or show jacket and show shirt or turtleneck with a stock tie (if you have it), riding boots, neutral-coloured breeches and a safety helmet. Basically, anything neat and tidy that you have in your closet will be fine, but the safety helmet is a must.

Put all your new-found skills and expertise from first the two parts to practice.  This part is a real OVH hunt with hounds, but it will be short and sweet.  It will a be a private hunt just for you, just a 1/3 the length of the average Hunt.  

10:30 - Be mounted and ready to go.  Take the advantage of this time and walk around and settle your horse, because this time the stirrup-cup will be held mounted! Everyone gets to practice riding your prancing pony with one hand and a cup of lemonade in the other.  If you ever did an egg and spoon race as a child, you will be a pro.  

10:45 - The Masters will call for your attention.  There is always a list of announcements before a hunt.  At this time the Masters will thank as many drag layers, whips,  field masters and the land owners and other volunteers who made it possible that day to have our hunt.  We will also give you a run down of what to expect and make any additional announcements at this time. They will also identify your Field Masters.  That is where you need to pay attention.

  • 1st Field- You will be galloping.  You will be jumping.  You will probably have to stop on a dime, while 5 other horses are galloping beside you.  It is not for the faint-of-heart.  But it sure is fun.
  • 2nd Field- This field is still pretty fast. You won’t be that far behind the leaders, but there are never any jumps that you can’t avoid.
  • 3rd Field – This field is for the happy-hackers among us.  Your Field Master is going to take you for a slower ride cutting a lot of corners.  In doing so you get to see the hounds work from a different perspective and still enjoy the show.

Pick your group and keep your group.  If at any time you need to change groups or retire, tell your field master.   Your field master keeps track of everyone in their group so you must stick together. 

11:00 - Release the hounds. Jamie will bring the hounds out of the kennels and blow the horn the start the hunt.  The hounds start working pretty quickly and their noses are on the ground.  We ask that everyone is quiet while the hounds are working. After the hounds have hunted the huntsman will blow his horn for the last time to signal that the hounds are going home.  Everyone will thank staff and retire to their trailer.  

Afterwards there will be a tail gate snack before everyone hits the road.

Remember to share your post ride selfies on our OVH FB page and tag us on Instagram – we predict lots of smiles and stories to tell your friends!

people riding horses

If you have any questions on the clinic, don't hesitate to contact masters@ottawavalleyhunt.com.