Drag hunting, or draghunting, is a form of equestrian sport, where mounted riders hunt the trail of an artificially laid scent with hounds.
Drag hunting is conducted in a similar manner to fox hunting, with a field of mounted riders following a pack of foxhounds hunting the trail of an artificial scent. The primary difference between fox hunting and drag hunting is the hounds are trained to hunt a prepared scent trail laid by a person dragging a material soaked in aniseed or another strong smelling substance.
A drag hunt course is set in a similar manner to a cross country course, following a predetermined route over jumps and obstacles. Because it is predetermined, the route can be tailored to suit the riding abilities of the field. The scent, or line, is usually laid 10 to 30 minutes prior to beginning of the hunt and there are usually three to four lines, of approximately 2 mi (3.2 km) each, laid for a day of hunting.
Like fox hunting, in the United Kingdom and Ireland the drag hunting season usually starts in Mid-October and continues through autumn and winter, finishing in the spring.
Drag hunting soon became popular with the British Army, with the Household Cavalry establishing a pack in 1863 and the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst and the Royal Military Academy Woolwich both establishing packs in 1870. The motivation of the British Army’s interest in the sport was it was seen to provide excellent preparation for beginners and those who were about to enter the cavalry divisions.
Closely related sports
Hound trailing uses specially bred hounds to race over an approximately 10 mi (16 km) course, with the hounds racing along a drag line.