With the game shooting season underway, it won’t be long until the shoot commences at the farm, and lots or others around the British countryside. Hamish and I are stabled at a working farm and we have the luxury of being a 2 minute walk from getting into the Angerming Park Estate. As a part of being stabled here, we have a game shoot that takes place within the farm and surrounding areas during the shoot season.
I personally respect the sport; I like the connection it makes to a true British country lifestyle. With my Dad and many of his friends keen shooters, I’ve been brought up around game shooting and I enjoy the game season; watching the working dogs, the chaps in all their shooting attire and the drink at the local pub after.
However, with all that said, when you are up at the stables or out in the countryside, to simply enjoy your horse and the shoot comes through the yard, clambering through your fields and loosing shotgun cartridges in your horses pasture, you can see why they aren’t so favourable with everyone. But this is often the minority, as with us riders, we can have a real bad name on the roads for being inconsiderate, not wearing hi-vis etc. but its just the minority. I think this rings true with a lot of common misconceptions and negativity, one or two people do something less than favourable and it’s given the whole group a bad name!
It’s sometimes easy for us to forget to share the countryside and respect everyone else who’s using it too – something we’re all guilty for, I’m sure. Essentially, pro or anti-shooting (or indifferent), we all share a common interest – the love of the countryside. Why shouldn’t we be more open to sharing it and why shouldn’t they be too?
I have to say, I think 99% of the time, the countryside is shared in harmony and everyone is kind, polite and respectful of others. Occasionally it needs reminding, sure, but usually everyone is happy to stop at chat, wish you a good ride and be on their way.
To be totally honest, for us at our yard, the shoot can be disruptive for the horses. The first few shoot days can be a bit wild and more often than not, riding on a shoot day may not be most preferable. But it’s something we accept when we chose to be there and I’ve tried to focus less on the negatives and embrace the positives. Of course, sometimes it’s not convenient and it’s disruptive but actually they have as much right to be there as we do, sometimes ‘live and let live’ has to come into play.
Interestingly, the horses are actually quite happy with the shoot once it gets under way. After the first few shoot days, they soon settle into the routine and get used to the shooters and beaters with their plastic bags on sticks, walking past their fields. It’s easy for us humans to worry for our horses but often their less fussed then we think.
It’s safe to say, it’s not just during the shoot season that we have to share the beautiful countryside; we all often meet cyclists, runners and dog walkers. Isn’t it lovely that in a world so busy and diverse, so many people still enjoy the countryside? Wouldn’t it be a great shame if it were always empty? Hopefully people will continue to be as considerate to us, as we are to them – sharing the countryside in all it’s glory, no matter what our purpose there.
What are your thoughts on ‘sharing the countryside’? What have your experiences been, good or bad, when meeting others out in the beautiful place we all love?