Last weekend marked, at least in my opinion, the highpoint of the Danish calendar – the Hubertus Hunt (Hubertusjagten). The name is misleading because it’s not actually a hunt – it’s a cross country horse race. That minor detail aside, everyone competes in hunting get up and technically they are chasing two riders who set off in advance wearing fox tails pinned to them, so it’s got a very hunt-like feel to it. It was a little hard to get a sense of what the event would entail, but I read online that 40,000 people attend, so I figured it was pretty safe to just show up at Dyrehaven and follow the crowds.
Our crowd following plan appeared to be working as we found ourselves being overtaken on the road by red-jacketed riders.
We found the marshalling area / starting line and spent a little while there checking out the parade of horses. This event also seemed to be an excuse for Danes to show off their handsome gun dogs… actually all kinds of fancy dogs – we even had a borzoi sighting. It was basically paradise, given my deep love of horses and Ant’s obsession with pure-bred dogs.
We didn’t wait for the actual start, because our blind crowd-following drew us further into the park. It was surprisingly freeing, not having any clue where we were going or wht we were going to see – just following the herd like good little Danish sheep. We eventually ended up at a viewing area below some jumps that seemed like as good a place as any to watch from (plus the borzoi was there). We were reassured that we’d been led to a good vantage point when the royal carriages showed up.
Sadly, despite our Mary (and Fred, or as I like to call him Frelderrrigggghk, because my Danish pronunciation is so good) attending last year, this year the royals really phoned it in by sending Prince Henrik, Queen Margarethe’s cranky husband. Reading his wiki (and subsequently a bunch of bitchy news articles) is hilarious – he is supposedly retired from public duty, mainly because he chucked a tantrum and ran away to France and sulked because everyone likes his wife Margarethe and son Frederik better than him, for minor reasons like (1) she is the actual Queen, and (2) Frederik is one million times younger and cooler than he is. What a baby – he needs to go hang out with Prince Phillip and whinge about how life hard is being married to Queens because no-one acknowledges what a special little snowflake you truly are. He had Prince Joachim’s kids in tow, but still… our quest to befriend (or at the very least see at a distance) Mary and Frederik continues.
What we did manage to see was some very intense horse riding, with the riders coming thundering down the hill after going over a jump.
This video probably captures it better than my not-so-still still shots, plus it has the added bonus of some high-pitched Danish whooping. Funnily, everyone in the crowd seemed to know people in the hunt, so there was a lot of cheering and waving going back and forward, even from the riders.
After the riders had passed, we again followed the crowds…
They led us up to Eremitageslottet, where the race eventually ends. At that point it had started to rain and it was absolutely freezing, so we were pretty keen for someone – anyone – to win…
The event ends with a parade of all riders past the royals in the hunting lodge, and with the prizes being awarded to the winners. Everyone looked suitably mud-spattered and happy to not be charging through ponds or over jumps any longer. The overall winner was Mette Kaufmann on Churchtowns Star, while the pony category was won by tough little Ida Ursin on Tamson – girl power all round in the Hubertus Hunt. The winning horses get special red blankets and probably deeply confused about why they are being paraded around and around in front of a cheering crowd.
At this point we were basically frozen and convulsively shivering, but not at all deterred from making this an annual event (ponies, royals, and borzois, oh my!).