The etiquette of hunting has developed to allow the field to safely follow hounds without interfering with their ability to work. It is important that you understand the ‘rules’ and why they exist.
All followers of hunting enjoy access to large areas of countryside not always available to others. This and hunting’s high visibility make it crucial that followers conform with accepted standards of good behaviour.
You must appreciate that you are a guest of those on whose land you ride or walk.
The Huntsman goes in front of the ‘field’ (mounted followers) and directs and controls the hounds.
The Field Master is who you follow closely if you are mounted. You must listen for her instructions and follow them carefully.
The Field consists of the mounted followers.
Various people may also follow the field by car, on foot, or by quad.
How should my horse be turned out?
Your horse should be turned out correctly i.e. clean and tidy, and plaited horse if it is not hogged. Tack is entirely at your discretion, but you may be well advised to try a stronger bit than you would hacking to ensure you retain control of your horse. It is quite acceptable to fit boots to your horse if he normally wears them, but many people find that they do better without as mud may work underneath the boots and irritate the horse.
How early should I arrive
You will be amazed at how the time flies once you arrive. You need to park your wagon, get yourself and your horse ready, pay the secretary and make your way from parking to the meet which can be quite a distance away! Only you know how long this will take you, but allowing an hour after putting the handbrake on is a good rule of thumb.
Where should I park my trailer or wagon?
There will usually be adequate parking, please leave room for others to get out around you if possible. Please do not park on mowed verges or in front of any access gates or lanes. Ask others to help you if you are struggling! You should clear up after your horse where you have parked – always keep a skip and shovel in your trailer or wagon!
Under no circumstances must any access point be obstructed by any horse transport nor by anyone following the Hunt by car. All followers are reminded that we hunt as guests of the farmers and they are asked to behave accordingly. If the Hunt’s welcome is to be maintained at licensed premises, the car park must be cleaned up after the horses are boxed. Everyone must have a shovel with them.
How do I know who to pay?
The Secretary will be in evidence, circulating and collecting fees. Ask another member if you don’t know who to approach.
What should I wear?
You should be comfortably kitted out – usual dress for the field is long black boots, jodpurs, a warm shirt, a stock, gloves, a black jacket and BS approved hard hat. Don’t worry if you don’t have all these items, smart dress will be acceptable. Body protectors can be worn under or over your jacket if you wish. The ‘Hound Ambles’ are usually casual and you can come casually (but neatly) dressed. Ladies, and webmaster, your hair should be neatly held in a hairnet.
Lawn Meets are at the kind invitation of the hosts and everyone who attends is expected to be turned out properly. This means boots more clean and shiny than usual, horses plaited, and black/navy coats for seniors (hacking jackets for juniors are fine), ladies hair in hairnets.
Everyone is expected to approach the host and hostess and say thank you for inviting us to meet (and for allowing us on their land).
Who is ‘in charge’?
The Field Master is your guide and lead for the day. The current Field Master is Viki Sutton, but others may deputise for her if she is not hunting for any reason. She can be identified by her pink jacket (that is red to you and me). It is very important that you listen to her and keep behind her at all times, unless instructed by her to do something different. She is doing this for your safety. If you do not or cannot keep behind her she may ask you to go home! This is unusual and will only be for your safety or for other’s safety! Please respect her instructions as she has a hard job to do!
Rules in the field
Ensure that all gates found closed are left as found. You will soon learn the signs we use to indicate whether gates should be closed or left open.
Do not ride over re-seeded grassland, lawn mown verges and grass nor through herds of cows or flocks of sheep.
What calls from the hunt officers should I know?
“Headland please” – keep to the very sides, unploughed or rough, of a field to limit damage. Never ride through plough or seeded fields unless following the field master.
“Sides please” – ride in single file around the side of a field to limit damage.
“Hounds/Huntsman/Whip (left or right or coming through) please” – make room for hounds, huntsman or whip to come through – open the gate for them where possible.
“Hold Hard” Stop now and don’t move until the Field Master gives permission!
“Hold please” or “Field Please” – get behind the Field Master and keep behind her!
“Quiet Please” – self evident I hope!
“Gate please” – last person through to shut the gate. This is important – if you don’t know if you are the last, wait or shut the gate! This is signally to one another by a raised hand as you do through the gate, look for someone behind you to raise their hand to signal that they have ‘got’ that gate. Please don’t keep shouting ‘gate please’ as lots of noise may distract the hounds from the scent that they are following…
Who should I thank for the day?
If you are ready to go home, please check with the Field Master that it is safe for you to do so and people usually say ‘Good Night’ to the Master when they are leaving…even if it is only 2pm!
Do you have any beginners meets?
At the end of summer we hold a series of hound ambles which are non-jumping meets to get any new hounds used to horses. These are excellent beginners meets where you can introduce your horse to going out with others. There are no jumps on the ambles, though there is usually the opportunity to try some jumps either before or after the amble – entirely at your own discretion.
What happens if I can’t/don’t want to jump a particular obstacle?
You should line up in an orderly fashion to jump an obstacle, giving your horse and other people sufficient room. If your horse stops, circle away and rejoin the line where you can.
Please do not repeatedly try an obstacle, if you are having trouble – find a gate and rejoin the field. If you don’t want to jump, look for a way around and make sure you shut all gates behind you and take care with any stock in the fields. Make sure that you return to the main following group as quickly as you can.
There are always some members who do not jump so you can always find someone to help you get round obstacles.
What if I damage a fence/wall/jump?
Please make sure you tell a Master or other Hunt staff if you have damaged a fence and they will arrange for it to be repaired.