Last month I attended my first Stampede munch (an animal role play munch held in San Francisco). I had a wonderful time meeting the members of this awesome herd and was quite excited to be welcomed so warmly. Though I do want to recount the experience of my first munch, I will save that for a different day. Today I want to talk about fox hunts. Specifically, human fox hunts.
Quite coincidentally, my first munch corresponded to the opening of the Fall Fox Hunt registration, so I was handed this cool flyer that has a rather innocuous (pictured at right) front side, with quite the conversation starter on the back.
Before we go too far, let me briefly explain what a fox hunt is, which is actually easy because a fox hunt is exactly what it sounds like: people tracking, chasing, and capturing/killing a fox. Typically the hunters are on horseback and use hounds to track the fox. A human fox hunt is the same thing except humans are the animals (human ponies, human puppies, and human foxes) as well as the hunters.
I, like most pony players I'm sure, had heard about human fox hunts. I mean, I knew they existed because I read a post or two about them on Fetlife, and I've stumbled across a website or photo gallery for a hunt while surfing the web. However, I never seriously looked into what a fox hunt entails (for no other reason than it simply never really occured to me to look into it).
Well, after being handed that flyer, I became motivated to look into what a fox hunt is all about (there's definitely something compelling about being handed a glossy flyer for a pony play event - by a friendly, enthusiastic organizer - while sitting in a kinky café). I'm sure you won't be surprised to hear that I discovered the whole "human fox hunt idea" to be right up my alley.
Really, a fox hunt is just an afternoon of social (or exhibitionist, depending on your point of view), outdoor pony play. Riders are dressed in formal English riding attire (my favorite). Ponies are tacked up in the morning with as little (or as much) tack as their riders deem necessary, and then the ponies wait patiently (or in my case very likely impatiently but unable to do anything about it) for their riders to lead them to the staging area where the hunt teams are formed.
Each team consists of several hunters along with their mounts, and some hounds (human pups).
After the teams are formed, the fox is released and given a few minutes to run and hide before the hounds are released and the hunt begins. The hounds track and chase the fox, the hunters follow the hounds, and the ponies follow the hunters. The goal is to corner the fox, which captures him (as opposed to the chasing down and hogtying of him I had pictured in my imagination).
For some reason I have this sequence in my head about my trainer getting a little caught up in the chase, blindly following the hounds with me stuggling to keep up, then getting separated from her in the heat of the chase and the fox snagging my reins in his mouth and leading me off into the woods like this ponygirl (awesome photo - thanks for posting humanpony). But I digress...
At its heart, a fox hunt is a team effort where all the ponies, riders, and puppies have to work together to find and capture the fox (like a team building exercise for animal role players). I think the idea is really cool, and like most things pony play, you can have whatever mindset you like going in (roleplay, forced or anything else you like), and you can remain a pony solely for the duration of a single hunt, or your rider could make - I mean let - you remain a pony for the whole day: from the morning tack up all the the way though the evening play party.
Actually, you could remain a pony for the whole hunt weekend if you (or your owner) wanted (although personally I would try to make a point to behave just well enough to not have to spend a night as a pony while still misbehaving enough to have some real fun :) ). Also, the pre and post hunt socialization time is great for trainers and ponies to get to know others in the community and even get their feet wet: hunts usually have spare riders and ponies so new ponies and trainers can get involved.
I want to specifically mention the 2013 Northern California Fall Fox Hunt because (aside from being the inspiration for me to learn more about fox hunts) not only is there a bit of history to the Northern California Hunt, which was started by Rebecca Wilcox in 2006, but also, this year's hunt is going to be a special affair for a couple reasons:
So if you live in northern California, or don't mind travelling to the area, and like the idea of a weekend of outdoor pony play and a chance to talk pony with the author of "The Human Pony", consider attending the Northern California Fox Hunt. The dates are from Friday October 18 2013 to Sunday October 20 2013 in Saratoga Springs, CA. There is a Fetlife event for The Hunt, and a separate booking page to reserve a spot.
The price ranges from $199 - $259 depending on whether you want a private cabin or are willing to camp. While it's not cheap, the cost does include food prepared by an on-site staffed kitchen, and a play space is available for duration of the weekend.
While fox hunts are certainly less common than munches and play parties, several animal role play groups throughout the U.S. (San Francisco, Los Angeles, Portland) run fox hunts on a regular or semi-regular basis. If you don't live near a locale that has a hunt, consider starting your own! Seriously, if there's an existing animal role play community, float the idea at a munch, I expect you'll get some interest, especially if you're willing to do the organizing.