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October 11, 2012
HUNTING is not a sport usu-
ally associated with modern
day Australian Navy person-
nel. But for one Aussie officer,
it's become a bit of a passion.
LCDR Mitchell Livingstone was
among the 31 riders and hounds that
gathered at the 177-year-old Hunt Club
on a crisp morning in a forest in Ooty,
India, to cheer the Hunt Master as he
officially declared the 2012 hunt sea-
son open on July 21.
LCDR Livingstone is posted to the
Indian Defence Services Staff College
in Wellington in the region of Nilgiris
and was the only foreign officer repre-
sented at the hunt with the field con-
sisting of Indian Army and Navy offic-
ers and local enthusiasts.
Ooty is 1100 miles south of Delhi
and 7500ft above sea level, and before
his posting, LCDR Livingstone said he
had done very little horse riding.
"Other than bush hacking on the
farm as a child, I have never had formal
riding lessons," he said.
"This is one of the benefits of com-
ing here and having riding facilities at
your disposal six days a week."
The ADF sends one officer to the col-
lege each year where they study six days
a week to complete a Masters of Science.
"The main benefit is the experience of
life and work in a foreign country as well
as the contacts and networks made while
over here," LCDR Livingstone said.
At 5.30am each day students head to
the staff college stables in a nearby val-
ley of the college grounds where horses
are already saddled and ready to ride.
"For the next hour or so we canter
and jump the horses in a nearby paddock.
"If the track is too wet we ride around
the village which is a stunning reminder
you are not in Australia any more.
"The sights, sounds and smells of
Although hunting is illegal, the pomp and ceremony remain as LCDR Mitchell Livingstone
discovered in India, Sharon Palmer reports.
Officer on scent of hunt
the village as it wakes up are fascinat-
ing -- there's mums collecting firewood,
the milkman balancing 10 stainless
steel milk buckets on a pushbike, tem-
ples readying for morning prayers, or
just the eager faces of children peering
out from tiny doorways laughing and
waving at the white bloke on a horse.
"We even had to give way to some
wild bison recently, slightly different
to dodging kangaroos -- it really is an
invigorating way to start the day."
LCDR Livingstone said while the
hunting of live animals was banned
in 1977, the pomp and ceremony sur-
rounding the start of the season thrives.
"Before heading off, a brief on hunt
etiquette is provided to the field," he said.
"This is followed by a final check
of the mounts and the customary swig
"The riders and hounds then thun-
der off through the eucalypt forests and
The Ooty Hunt Club is the only
remaining club of its kind east of the
The hunt was formed by the 74th
Highland Regiment in 1835 to chase
sambar deer, bison, wild boar and the
odd tiger. It has hunted every year
since, with only a brief pause for the
Indian Mutiny of 1857.
"While no wild jackals were uncov-
ered this year, several wild buffalo and
bison did provide some excitement to
the hunt with the hounds reluctantly
drawn away to continue the chase,"
LCDR Livingstone said.
"After two and a half hours the rid-
ers and hounds re-emerge from the for-
est and gallop past the waiting families
"The distinctive sound of the pipes
and drums of the Madras Regiment
band welcome the field before we are
presented to the Commandant of the
Before the end of his posting in
April next year, LCDR Livingstone
said he would continue his riding and
had recently been selected for the
College Equitation Team.
"Later in the year when we tour
around India visiting the various bases
and establishments, we compete with
the local forces in tennis, golf, badmin-
ton and equitation," he said.
"I'm not entirely sure what that
entails but it will be another great expe-
"The goal is to be able to play some
basic polo by the end of the course as
a majority of the senior officers here
make up a pretty mean polo team."
TALLY HO: LCDR Mitchell Livingstone readies for the start of hunt
season in Ooty, India, (above) as the field congregates (above left).
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