Hunting may have skipped a generation but now this keen hunter is delighted to be passing on her love of the sport to the next generation
Though hunting skipped a generation, Callie Coles is now delighting in passing her love for hunting to the next generation, as well as following them over hedges.
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Genetics have been a major contributing factor in my sporting life, which revolves primarily around hunting. I begged and pleaded every day for nearly five years for a pony and my mother bought me My Lady the Dun Pony for my seventh birthday. The hunting gene had skipped a couple of generations. My mother never really hunted, my grandparents did as children but my great grandparents were both Masters; my great grandfather, Denis ‘Guvnor’ Moore, was also the huntsman of the East Cornwall. In me the dormant Moore hunting gene was wakened and I excitedly began to take Lady hunting on my own aged nine, hacking many miles to the meet, hunting all day and then merrily riding home in the dark, sometimes with a friend but often on my own.
My mother, who unhelpfully used to turn my alarm clock off on early autumn hunting mornings, gladly enrolled me at Hanford School for Girls who love Ponies, where, after making it to the dizzy heights of the hallowed riding committee, I didn’t have to go hunting alone anymore. Instead, I used to accompany the legendary headmaster Mr MJ out with the Portman hunt on Wednesdays in the Christmas term. It was the pinnacle of joy riding out with him at first bell for lessons after chapel while all my friends were at their books.
I take my sporting life and love of hunting seriously. I believe that the old world traditions that hunting holds so dearly are fading away; it is one of the last tangible links we have to our ancestors as the sport upholds the steadfast values they believed in. I’m lucky to have married a man for whom hunting is a key part of his life. Toby is a MFH and his father, Bobby Coles, fitted in 4,500 hunting days during his lifetime. The traditions and way of life for these hunting men is almost military; they will look after their own in a way like no other and you feel safe because you know their compass is true.
When I married Toby I managed to snaffle his best horse, Warrior. Warrior is my horse of a lifetime, one of the lights of my life. He is arguably the best hunter in England and although I cannot believe my good fortune, I thank my lucky star for him every time I sit upon his back. He just loves the job. Woz and I have that wonderful bond that I only dreamed of until I found him. He’s a total numpty at home, spooky and silly to the extreme, but when hounds are running he will stay with them whatever gets in the way, be it a six-bar metal hanging gate onto a road or a seven-foot boundary hedge of blackthorn and a river behind; I trust him implicitly to keep me safe. He has ditched me a few times but always at home and normally when colourful show jumps are involved.
Toby and I have two boys, Jesse is 10 and Merlin is three. They both come hunting with us as often as school allows. They’ll both happily do six hours in the saddle teed up on Marmite sandwiches, sweets and chocolate. Merlin and his pony, Sparky, are always in the right place courtesy of my mother-in-law, Sally Coles (the galloping granny), who covers the country beside him on foot. Sally knows more than all of us put together and has had more days hunting than hot or cold dinners.
Jesse was giving me leads over rails and hedges last season. For me this is better than any personal glory on the hunting field, it’s a euphoric feeling like no other to follow the next generation over the hedge in front.
Our home life is an extension of our sporting life. We have seven dogs at home, three labradors, two terriers, two long dogs and a mutt, so you can make of that what you will.
Sporting life has never been more important than it is now. For us, life is better outside, especially in these strange times. Fresh air, a challenge combined with a good hit of adrenaline and nature is the answer to most problems. Sport helps us keep fit, happy and healthy.
TOP TIP: LEAN BACK. This advice has saved me more times than I can remember. Once out with the Portman in my youth I fell off three times during a single vale day. Lean back or die is my happy mantra now and this has kept my tumbler’s average a bit lower. It is prudent to find a strategy that helps one avoid finding oneself face down in mud and jolly sore the next day.
You can find Callie Coles on Instagram: @calliecoles