A splendid afternoon is the best way to describe it. Last Sunday beheld the annual hunter trials of the Montreal Hunt Club up in St-Augustin-de-Mirabel, Quebec. Readers will no doubt remember my previous post on the oldest hunt in the New World. The club treasurer Annette Laroche had suggested swinging by the Club sometime and as it happens my good friend Ezra Pierce recently married and moved to Montreal with his lovely new wife. So when Raymond Côté (seen in the previous post jumping on the beautiful white mare Frimousse) contacted me with an invitation to the hunter trials, I decided it would be foolish not to take the opportunity to visit the beautiful land of Quebec for the first time in many years.
Hunter trials are basically an equestrian competition to test the field hunter horses in a series of jumps, but, as Annette explained to us, it’s also simply an excuse for the club to get together, be social, and have a good time.
The most interesting competition we got to see that day was the jumping in pairs. The riders demonstrated a real skill, more easily appreciable to lay spectators such as ourselves than in the single rider jumps. It was interesting picking up on their little methods: the trois-deux-un leading up to the jump, spotting each other to ensure the correct positioning, and the playful whelp of joy after touching down again. And indeed the joy was infectious: while the skies were grey, the spirit on the ground was quite merry.
La belle Frimousse!
Important as riding is, the Club de chasse à courre de Montréal is, after all, a hunt club and the running of the hounds was a helpful reminder thereof.
The hounds respond to the huntsman’s horn calls.
Even though they were working, the hounds were having a ball.
After the demonstration with the hounds, Annette took us over to the stable to meet her horse Roby, currently recovering from a bit of leg trouble.
After meeting this fine, endearing horse we had to head back into Montreal. Nonetheless, I can say assuredly that a good time was had by all, largely thanks to the cheerful hospitality of our Québécois hosts. It is both fascinating and reassuring that this most English of traditions has been so comfortably (and heartily) adopted by these sons and daughters of France. The Montreal Hunt Club is plainly in good shape, and we wish it every continued success in the fields. Bonne saison de chasse!