Local riding clubs throughout Europe ritually celebrate hunting season with the annual Hubertus Hunt, a race typically held on the first weekend of November. Today, no real hunt occurs; instead, a horseback procession follows dogs trailing a mock scent—or a foxtail pinned to a lead rider—on a winding chase through idyllic countryside, past hills and meadows, over fences and hedges, and through ponds and woodlands.
Here, on a brisk morning in a field in the southern Netherlands, minutes before the ceremonial fanfare, the anticipation is tangible. The buzz of spectators hangs in the air as three dozen hounds hover at horses’ hooves. Riders shift in their saddles, distinctly dressed in traditional crimson jackets, stark-white breeches, and just-shined boots, with all the pomp and circumstance worthy of a former sport of kings.