Hunt Club simulates longstanding tradition

The Norfolk Hunt Club’s American Foxhounds begin to explore the land and greet the many spectators in attendance. Photos by Laura Drinan

By Laura Drinan
Hometown Weekly Reporter

Dozens of people stood along the edges of Powisset field on November 18, patiently waiting for sight of them. Children played tag to pass the time and tugged on their parents’ coats as they waited. One little boy told his mom that he wanted to return to the car, but she assured him that they’d be coming any minute.

During one of their journey’s breaks, the American Foxhounds from the Norfolk Hunt Club greet spectators with wagging tails.  Photos by Laura Drinan

During one of their journey’s breaks, the American Foxhounds from the Norfolk Hunt Club greet spectators with wagging tails. Photos by Laura Drinan

A faint noise became louder and was soon recognized as dogs barking. Seconds later, the crowd squealed as they spotted motion on the horizon. In minutes, the Norfolk Hunt Club’s horseback riders and hounds were gathered in the field, having successfully arrived at the “check” for a cup of cider and a moment of rest.

The hounds, however, didn’t need much rest. Instead, they welcomed the “check” as an opportunity to fraternize with the families and individuals who came to watch a part of the hunt.

The Norfolk Hunt Club’s traditions date back to over one hundred years ago. With American Foxhounds that the club breeds and trains, the club attempts to simulate what a fox hunt would have been like a century ago. In those days, fox hunting was a way of life.

A group of riders and their horses gallop into Powisset field to greet spectators and rest during their drag hunt.

A group of riders and their horses gallop into Powisset field to greet spectators and rest during their drag hunt.

Now, the Norfolk Hunt Club’s hounds are chasing after a “two-legged fox,” as humans lay the scent so that the area’s wildlife is not harmed. As to not mislead the community, they call this man-laid trail a drag hunt. Many of the club’s events also raise money for land conservation in Medfield, where the club is based, and in Dover, where the kennels and stables are, as well as the surrounding areas, through which they ride.

The horseback riders and dogs cover a great deal of ground during the drag hunt, with the majority of land located in the Charles River Watershed area, utilizing land in Dover, Medfield, Sherborn, South Natick, Millis, and Walpole.

Individuals from those areas and beyond came to Powisset field to enjoy the spectacle. The visitors seized the opportunity to pet the hounds and horses, and learn more about the Hunt Club from the riders, who wore formal attire for the drag hunt.

Although the chance to interact with the animals and club members was short-lived as the group had to continue their hunt, in just 20 minutes, the Norfolk Hunt Club displayed the longtime tradition of fox hunting and introduced the community to an organization that prides itself in conserving both land and history.

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