Whilst we ably ride our horses up hill and down dale in the pursuit of the Bloodhounds, spare a thought for the person either in front of or behind you. The following is a guide to good hunting etiquette, to be followed to the very best of your ability.
The Hounds hunt the “Clean Boot”. This is the natural scent of the runners.
It is required that you book in with the Secretary so that we have some idea as to how many people are coming.
You are expected to be smart and well groomed. For pre-season hunting it is acceptable that your horse is un-plaited and “rat-catcher” (tweed) is worn. It is polite and good manners to plait for the Opening Meet and Lawn Meets, and at other times it will be at your discretion, but a good smart turnout is always appreciated. It is acceptable, however, for tweed jackets to be worn throughout the season for those who only hunt the occasional days. “Ratcatcher” is normally reverted to after the running of the Gold Cup at Cheltenham..
Hunt Buttons and Collars are awarded to those who have hunted seriously in the preceding seasons and contribute more than just their presence.
It is manners not to be late. We meet at 12.30pm unless indicated. The Secretary has to collect the cap, be helpful and offer it without having to be chased.
It is essential that the land we hunt over is respected. For a days hunting a lot of hard work and negotiation is needed. Without our Farmers and Landowners, there is no hunting. One thoughtless act can jeopardise the future of a day for everyone. DO NOT ride over growing crops, mown grass, or gallop downhill. DO keep to headlands (the edge of a field) when told or if in doubt, go through stock and farmyards at a walk, ensure that all gates are closed if you are the last, and report all breakages. It is not a crime to break a fence, but it is not to report it. Repairs must be carried out.
Occasionally, you may have to queue for a jump or a gate, If your horse kicks, keep it to the back, well out the way of everyone else. A red ribbon is usually a clear indication of this, but not an excuse. A green ribbon is an indication of a young horse, which also needs space.
Do not ever turn your horses back to the hounds, always face them. If your horse kicks them it is your fault.
When crossing bridges or going through gates, see the next person through before riding away. If someone is holding a gate open or helping on a road crossing, be courteous and say thank you. It may be the Farmer or Landowner over whose land we are crossing.
If your horse refuses a fence, clear the way and let the person behind go.
Give way to stray hounds and whippers-in, if they come by you. Don’t forget you need them in front of you.
Make sure that the Field Masters wishes are adhered to. You do not pass him.
On conclusion of a days hunting, we ride home. Please do not overtake the hounds and hunt staff.
Tea is usually served by the co-operation of everyone who has enjoyed a days hunting, not just the mounted followers. Therefore it is always appreciated if a donation is made by either a few sandwiches, a cake or a pound or two in the kitty.
Be sure to remember that the hounds have to be fed everyday and exercised in summer and winter. Therefore your support is needed not just on the hunting field but by means of attending and assisting with social functions.
With these few guidelines to help, we hope that you have an enjoyable day hunting and by adhering to them it makes life much easier for those who organise the days. It also makes life much easier for you because you now hunt with the “knowledge” behind you.