ur hunting season begins in early August with the cub-hunting season and continues until the beginning of April, weather and ground permitting. The period from Opening Meet through New Year’s Day is our formal season. If we are able to continue hunting after the New Year, we hunt in informal dress. A fixture card is mailed to each member every month or so to provide information about locations and times of the meets. We meet just after sunrise during the late summer when the weather is still hot and begin hunting later in the day as the season progresses and the air cools. On most hunting days, we get together for breakfast after the hunt, sometimes as the guests of a particular member and sometimes as a “Dutch Treat.” Breakfasts give us a chance to swap stories about the day’s sport, wind down a little and recoup our energy for the drive home.
We also have a full schedule of events that takes us through a good part of the year, even when we are not hunting. A calendar is mailed as a separate card to all hunt members. We begin in the Spring as we enter our hound puppies in the Adjacent Hunts Puppy Show. We also take hounds to two of the nine major hound shows sanctioned by the Masters of Foxhounds Association: one in Leesburg, Virginia, and the other in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania. Members are encouraged to attend each of these to cheer our hounds as they wow the judges.
Summertime fun continues with the spring trail ride. Rombout invites people from all over the area, including members of other hunts, to join us for a day of hacking and galloping through our lovely countryside. Riders may participate in fast rides or slow ones, jumping or non-jumping. The ride is followed by lunch, to which non-riders are welcome to join. The Rombout Horse Show is in midsummer. Riders from near and far compete before well-known judges in hunter and jumper classes, in the sand ring or out on a grass field. In past years, the proceeds of the Show have been donated to the East and West Clinton fire departments to show our appreciation for their dedicated service. In August, we conduct Junior Seminars in which we introduce young people interested in learning about foxhunting to our hounds and to foxhunting customs. A Seminar may include a trail ride through Rombout’s country, as well as discussions about hunting and a visit to the kennels.
In the fall, usually in October, we host the Rombout Hunter Pace, which is part of the Adjacent Hunts pace series. A hunter pace is a competition in which teams ride a marked course of several miles through woods and over fields, including many fences. The “pace” is set by two Rombout Hunt masters who ride the course at a speed that is appropriate for the weather and ground conditions. The winning team is the one that completes the course in a time that is closest to the time established by the masters. As with most Rombout events, there is a lunch after the Pace. The Adjacent Hunts consist of seven neighboring hunts in southeastern New York, New Jersey and western Connecticut: Fairfield County Hounds, Goldens Bridge Hounds, Millbrook Hunt, Old Chatham Hunt, Rombout Hunt, Smithtown Hunt and Windy Hollow Hunt. Each of the Adjacent Hunts hosts a hunter pace and the team that achieves the highest combined score for all of the paces is awarded a trophy and a prize at the final pace of the season.
Opening Meet takes place, usually in early October, for all the member hunts of the Adjacent Hunts. On this hunting day, members put away their cubbing, or informal, attire, and don the formal coats and ties that mark the main hunting season. A photographer is on hand in the morning to take pictures of the horses in their braids and riders dressed in their finery. As is usual with Rombout, we mark this event with a festive lunch after the hunt!
Throughout the hunting season, usually on school holidays such as Labor Day and Columbus Day, we hold special Junior Meets at which younger riders are our guests (no capping fees required). The purpose of these is to enable young enthusiasts to see the hounds work and ride with the senior members and staff. After Junior Meets, Rombout’s Chairman traditionally provides…lunch!
Also throughout the season, we make the most of our opportunities to socialize with and get to know our landowners. For many years, Rombout has invited landowners in both its South Country and North Country for a picnic lunch in late summer. Recently, we have also hosted holiday parties and dinner dances around Christmastime or New Year’s Day and picnic dinners around bonfires that blazed into the night in support of England’s Countryside Alliance. On New Year’s Day, we hold a special hunt that departs from the center of the Town of Ancram. In the morning, before the hunt, our North Country landowners are invited for a sandwich, a hot bowl of soup and to share a warming stirrup cup to see our hounds off.