This guide is aimed at helping newcomers to hunting who are planning their first day out, but we hope it will also serve as a useful reminder for more experienced hunt followers.
A day’s hunting involves considerable planning, time and effort on the part of the Master and Huntsman, Field Masters, and other Hunt officials, and the basic rules of hunting are there to ensure that everyone has an enjoyable and safe day. Appropriate behaviour, dress code and well turned out horses show courtesy and appreciation to farmers and landowners who allow us to ride over their ground.
We hope this guide will help you to feel more at home and don’t worry if you can’t remember it all at once. If in doubt: don’t be afraid to ask!
Before coming to a Meet
The first thing is to contact the Secretary, Claire Armet (please see our Contact page) to book in for the day and check the payment arrangements for your “cap”. She will also be able to tell you where the Meet is and the best place to park.
Children are welcome but must be accompanied by a competent responsible adult at all times.
What to wear
Our dress code is a tweed Hunt coat or hacking jacket, with a coloured stock or tie, fawn or cream breeches or jodhpurs, black or brown boots, and a black, brown or blue hat. For your own safety your hat should be of an approved standard with a properly fitting chinstrap/harness. Full subscribers who wish to wear a black or blue Hunt coat may do so. Barbour type jackets are acceptable if the weather is bad. Spurs are optional. You will find gloves are essential in cold weather! If you wish to wear a back protector, please feel free to do so.
It is customary for female followers to keep their hair “up” by wearing a hairnet or arranging their hair neatly under their hat throughout the day.
Going to the Meet
Allow plenty of time! You’ll find it much less stressful if you have ample time to get parked, unload and get your horse and yourself ready. Please park only at the approved place the Secretary has told you: never park in gateways or block or restrict farm or public access.
In your pockets
We suggest you should carry:
- Some baler twine and a penknife
- A mobile phone
- Possibly a hip flask and chocolate!
At the Meet
It is customary to say Good Morning to the Master and introduce yourself.
Normally payment will be made in advance. If we are accepting payment on the day, please make sure you pay the Secretary when you arrive. Although she will be aware of “new faces”, it’s your responsibility to find her and pay your “cap”!
Stand your horse in a quiet place out of the way of the hounds. You will usually be offered a glass of something and a “nibble” at the Meet.
You should note who the Field Master is for the day: this is usually announced by the Master. The Field Master guides the mounted followers during the day’s hunting and knows where the field can or can’t go and the best routes to follow. Don’t worry if you don’t want to jump. There is usually a non-jumping Field Master who will show you the way round any obstacle. Make sure you keep behind him/her at all times and follow their instructions immediately. Everyone is friendly and if are worried about anything there are people to help you.
Hounds must be respected at all times. Be alert to move out of the way if the pack shifts position or comes towards you: always turn your horse to face hounds if they are passing (to minimise the risk of your horse kicking out).
If your horse is liable to kick, please keep make sure other mounted followers are aware: and you have a red ribbon in its tail. If you have a young horse and you are unsure of its temperament around other horses, it should wear a green ribbon in its tail. In each case, you should keep to the back of the field.
Never jump unless the Field Master has gone first or indicated that it is okay to jump. Always give Hunt staff priority and don’t attempt to jump if a hound is anywhere near the jump. If your horse is an uncertain jumper, let others go first: if your horse refuses, let others have their turn before you try again. If you break a jump, make sure it is made stock proof before your go on and make sure you report the breakage to the Secretary or the Field Master.
If you don’t want to jump: don’t worry. There are always a number of non jumping members of the field who will be able to guide you to the nearest gate.
To prevent stock escaping or getting mixed, all gates which are shut must be shut after you pass through. If in doubt whether a gate was open or not, shut it!
The procedure at gates is as follows:
- If you are approaching a gate, look ahead and watch for riders signalling: be ready to signal back to let them know that you are aware the gate has to be shut, and enable them to move off.
- When you arrive at a gate which needs to be shut, raise an arm above your head to signal the gate has to be shut.
- The rider or riders behind should raise their arm to acknowledge the signal: do not move away from the gate until your signal has been acknowledged.
- If no-one is following behind you, it is your responsibility to shut the gate before rejoining the rest of the field: if it needs tied up – here’s where your baler twine and knife come in handy!
- If someone has opened a gate and is waiting to shut it make sure someone waits with them until they have done so and remounted.
- Always be ready to open gates for the Huntsman or Field Master: this will be much appreciated.
Always slow down near livestock and give them a wide berth. Spooked livestock can easily break through fences. If stock bunch up in a corner, stop and wait for them to shift before moving on. If you see anything wrong please let the Fieldmaster or someone with a radio know.
Please don’t hold up traffic unless absolutely necessary: keep well in to the side to let vehicles pass, and thank them for slowing down or waiting. On roads, listen out for a shout of “Car, please” which means traffic is approaching and you should get in to the side. If you pass pedestrians, a smile and “Good morning” or other greeting will usually be appreciated.
If conditions are wet, please be careful over grass fields: keep right into the edge where possible and don’t canter if the ground is cutting up. Be aware of young grass/new seeds and keep off it at all times: if in doubt, ask a more experienced member of the field. Listen out for instructions from the Field Master.
It is traditional to say “Goodnight”, at whatever time you leave, or at the end of the day.