You will need a suitable horse, clothing and your field money or visitors cap.
Your horse should be good in company, not liable to kick other horses, and preferably used to dogs. It should be reasonably fit and able to jump modest fences. For hunting it should be clipped and have it’s mane either plaited or hogged. For autumn hunting it is not necessary for your horse to be plaited or clipped, it should however be clean and tidily turned out.
For hunting, suitable clothing is a black or navy hunt coat, black top boots, white or fawn breeches, a white stock or hunting tie, a hunt cap or bowler hat. The dress code is slightly different for early season autumn hunting which takes place in September and October. For this you should wear a normal tweed or twill hacking jacket instead of a hunt coat. You should also wear a coloured stock or collar and tie instead of a white stock. A hunting whip has several uses: the leash can be used to keep hounds away from your horses legs, the crop can be used to open and shut gates, the whip can be used to make ‘noise’ when holding up a covert and of course it can be used as a riding aid.
If you are unsure of how your horse will behave it is often a good idea to make your first day an autumn hunting morning. Autumn Hunting is a lot slower and there is little or no jumping. This early season hunting is a good way to introduce a green horse to hunting. You should plan to arrive at the meet in plenty of time to get your horse out of its transport and yourself mounted with perhaps 10 minutes to spare before the published meet time. You should ask who is collecting the cap and offer your money to them. You should also get this person to point out who the Field Master is for the day. Introduce your self to the Master and tell him or her that this is your first day out hunting. He or she will introduce you to a more experienced hunt member to show you “the ropes” during the day.
Many meets are Lawn Meets. Lawn meets are given to us at the start of the day by the landowner, and often include generous amounts of food and liquid refreshment of varying degrees of alcoholic strength! Other meets may be held at supporting Public Houses.
Parking at meets is varied – sometimes everybody can park at the same place, at other times it is a case of finding somewhere nearby and hacking. Details about parking can be had from the Hunt Secretary.
It is most important never to ride in front of the Master and to listen carefully to any of his instructions. “Gate please!” means that the gate you are passing through needs to be closed. If you are the last person through you must close the gate, if not pass the call back so that the people behind you know that the gate needs to be closed. “Headland please!” means you must ride round the edge of a field and not across it. “Car please!” means cars are trying to get through and you should make room to allow the traffic to pass. Always thank motorists who have been held up. “Whip please!” means make room to allow a whip to pass through. There may be warnings issued about wire on the ground or holes or hounds coming through. These need to be heeded. When jumping, make sure that your exit is clear. If your horse refuses, allow others to jump before trying again. Always walk through farm or stable yards.
We have built many hundreds of jumps over the years, varying from full-blown hedges to Tiger traps over ditches to removable slip gates. Whilst it is a lot of fun to jump between fields, the main purpose of our jumps is to help us get about the country quickly when hounds are running.
We are not a drag hunt with the sole purpose of jumping fast and furious – indeed we have several regular followers who never jump, and there is often a way to get around without leaving the ground if you don’t want to. There are also hunting days where we do not do a single jump.