Hunting during fox hunting’s annual preseason consists of cubbing.
Before the regular hunting season begins in October or November, the new entry of hounds is taken out and introduced to hunting, and the same year’s crop of young foxes is introduced to being pursued by hounds.
Training young hounds to hunt properly is a delicate business and by convention hunt membership normally carries no automatic invitation to come out cubbing. Cubbing traditionally is strictly by special invitation of the Master, as inexperienced riders or unreliable horses can represent a serious hazard to inexperienced hounds or create distractions and impair their training.
So confident are the Masters of the Blue Ridge Hunt, however, of professional huntsman Dennis Downing’s management of his pack that cubbing is treated informally. Everyone is notified of cubbing meets and everyone is invited to attend.
During cubbing, traditional hunt uniforms are not worn. The correct attire, referred to as Ratcatcher, consists of non-formal hunting boots, a tweed coat, and a collared shirt and necktie. This summer was exceptionally warm, so even though starting early in the morning, the Blue Ridge field yesterday was prepared for warm weather, eschewing even Ratcatcher jacket and tie in favor of polo shirts.
Yesterday morning at 7:00 A.M., the Blue Ridge Hunt conducted its first cubbing of the year from kennels.
Karen’s photo essay.