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Hedging and Sport

Hedges in Sport

Hedging in Sport

So we've made it through the winter and admired all those hedges covered in morning frost on early morning walks. It's one thing we do well here in the UK: frosty, winter landscapes with miles upon miles of hedging splitting up the fields, like softened rows resting gently on the hard, white fields. It is during these times that all manner of wildlife thank farmers for planting hedging as many types of bug and beastie take shelter amongst the low-lying branches.

In fact, hedging is so much part of our country culture that they are an integral part of our sporting history. Many of the sports which are popular now were invented in inner-city areas relatively recently, probably as a way of burning off energy and finding a good excuse to get outdoors. But in the days before football and rugby, more people lived in the countryside and partook in 'country sports.' Well, the upper classes did - everyone else was paid as 'the help'!

So what does this have to do with hedging? Well, without hedging many of these sports would have been very difficult indeed.

Hedging in Equestrian

So first there's hunting. Yes, I know hunting is controversial, but it was a big part of rural life as people on horses used a pack of hounds to chase foxes. And although many people are uncomfortable with that idea, even those who partake would admit it would be very dull just chasing a poor fox across a flat field. You need plenty of native hedging criss-crossed in rows to add some challenge and skill in jumping. And that practice of jumping over hedges led to the separate sport of Show Jumping - in fact, hedges are often still used in the sport. And in turn, show jumping is part of Eventing and Pentathalon.

Hedging in Shooting

Ok, so I'm not doing too well in steering clear of controversial subjects, but hedging has a role to play in shooting too. Game has been reared for centuries in the British countryside for shooting and in the winter, those game need warm places to shelter. That's where the low-growing mass of a nice, thick hedge holds heat against the ground and helps game make it through the winter and can even help breeding game.

Hedging in Running

Phew- I don't think anyone's against running have they? Well, as long as it's someone else doing it! And hedges have a role to play here too. There used to be a sport of cross-country running towards the nearest village church, which could be seen for miles around because the steeple was the highest structure around. And in this mad dash, runners had to jump over hedges to get the most direct route to the steeple, which is why in modern steeplechase they have to jump over that wooden bar, Looks dangerous to me, I'd much prefer a soft hedge!

I'll bet you didn't know how much lovely hedging had to do with sport!

14 March 2014 at 17:05 / Comment

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