Special needs Hunt with Bloodhounds in Ahlen.

This blog was translated from German. Read the original post from Henrich from Aktivstall Berkhoff (Movement Method Trainers and Horse Boy Method Practitioners) here. For more pictures scroll to the bottom of the page.

For the first time on our farm, for the first time in the district of Warendorf, and for the first time ever, a traditional English Sunday with a pack of hounds hunting in an inclusive setting.

Nobody involved could even remember, or had ever heard that such an event, an “inclusive fox hunt”. So a world premiere.

On October 1, 2022, after long, long preparations, those involved met for a traditional English Bloodhound hunt at Henrich and Gitti Berkhoff’s farm. A few weeks of preparations had preceded it, countless telephone calls and visits, meetings, planning and, above all, training.

Gitti knew that her horses interacted very safely with the clients, but no one could really assess in advance what was going to happen next.

The horses had to get to know a lot of new things (out of their comfort zone), they were no longer completely alone, and there were now more companions. Then there were the foreign riders with their horses and, above all, a pack of dogs. The so-called Bloodhounds are called that because of their purebred line and they are characterized by their very, very fine nose with which they can pick up a trail and follow it with absolute certainty. It is precisely these dogs that make up the traditional old English hunt. You can follow horses as well as other tracks. As a default, a handkerchief with the smell of a horse will suffice. Before that, the hooves and legs of the animal are wiped off with the cloth. The dogs follow the scent of this cloth after the corresponding horse has laid the various tracks (lines).

How did an event like this come about?

The founder of the HorseBoy method was and is known to have ridden many English hunts since his youth and had to give up his favorite hobby at times because he was looking for solutions and opportunities for his son Rowan to make a living in our society. He also had in mind to make the English hunt, which was often carried out by “better off people”, accessible to people with disabilities. With this crazy idea, he met someone who was no less crazy: Henrich! He has always found it exciting and challenging to try out and make new things possible for people with disabilities. He doesn’t ask himself the question “WILL we do it?” but the question “HOW we can do it”. Now you can see what can come of it when you start looking for opportunities.

An English hunt in the middle of Germany, really unique.

Before that, the so-called lines were inspected and discussed, relocated and redesigned.

Many obstacles have been built and since they are only made of natural materials, they can be left in place later. There were only different opinions about the heights ? but that was due to Rupert’s ideas from England and that was a while ago. The last jumps were then finished in time in the dark the evening before.

Now the day came and a rain-free weather window was predicted from the start of the hunt and that can be anticipated, it was exactly right!!!

However, the most important thing happened in the run-up to Gitti. Their horses were bombproof, but in this setting they didn’t know it (yet) and neither did their riders from the training with the horse. This meant that each participant was practiced by her on the “line” in advance. So there was already a lot of excitement during training.

This tension increased until the day of the hunt and the anticipation grew.

So the weather was fine, thanks to those responsible at Petrus?

The hunt could begin.

On the day of the hunt, Henrich welcomed the guests, Fiona’s Weser Hunt pack and their hunting riders, on behalf of his family. He thanked, as did Rupert, for the willingness and open mind to hold such an event. Yes much more, they saw it as …. Opportunity to give children and young people an unforgettable experience. They also brought the offspring dogs with them, with whom everyone involved was allowed to cuddle afterwards. After the welcome, Rupert said how happy he is today that his long-cherished dream is finally coming true. He thanked Henrich and Gitti and Fiona, the leader of the pack.

But now it really started. Two hooves and two legs of the horse that was to lay the line were rubbed with a cloth. There was also a horse from the group of Gitti’s riders. Then the large group with the riders and horses and the companions started to lay the line. The excitement and excitement was palpable. Everyone paid attention to everyone and concentrated on the environment, nobody was allowed to forget their task. With this concentration and high level of attention, everything was tense. Then Rupert started singing a song “what do you want…I want a pint sir” now the relaxed atmosphere added to the joy.

We now went from the open field into the forest, everyone had to watch their feet where they stepped and at the same time watch out for the rider, fortunately we had many many helpers with us as sidewalkers who had been with Gitti as interns in previous years and knew what was important . The obstacles were bypassed in the forest. Then we went out onto the meadow to the next piece of forest that had to be crossed. So it went back into the first large forest, to then lead the line to a meadow at the eastern end to the end point. Only after reaching the end point and after dismounting from the horses did the pursuers and their dogs get the signal to start. The pack stormed off with a loud “bell”. They picked up the trail and shot over the first turn in their excitement, but it wasn’t a problem. They flowed out and when the first dog caught the scent of “saint” again, he gave a “loud” and everyone then followed him in the correct direction into the forest. The pack did a great job and the riders had a lot to do to be able to follow them through the forest. They also had a good lead over the next meadow and the adjoining forest, only at the last forest could the riders catch up with their dogs again and then arrive at the end point together. The dogs were praised and paired again.

Gitti was relieved and happy, all her horses had done a great job. All the helpers did a great job and, above all, all their children did it so easily and naturally and took a lot with them. Really unique what can be possible.

The pros rode three more lines and all the remaining participants switched from the horse to the tractor trailer and followed what was happening directly in the fields and fields.

A big one-off action was now successfully behind us. Unforgettable moments were created. Unique experiences started today. At the subsequent, traditional English picnic with port wine and tuna sandwich, everyone was able to strengthen themselves in proper style and there was a lively exchange about the experiences. Everyone, really everyone involved was completely satisfied and everyone wished for a sequel in the coming years.

Yours, Henrich


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