OVER the past 200 plus years there have been general rules
evolved for those persons on horseback who follow hounds. These rules are based on courtesy and safety and are
followed by all recognized hunts. Foxhunting is for fun. All sorts of people are involved, the
whole countryside is part of it, and all hunt for different reasons. For whatever reason the more you know
about hunting the more fun and sport it will be.
does their best to observe these rules we should continue to have good relations with the community, especially the landowners, safety
in the field and good sport. For those new to the hunting field try to learn as much as you can, both from experienced
foxhunters and from informative foxhunting books, as it's impossible to list all of the pitfalls which can be unsafe,
discourteous, or can hinder the staff and the hounds in the pursuit of the fox.
Firstly, a significant quote from Mr William Wadsworth, MFH, author
of "Riding to Hounds in America"
in a hunting country the hunt is always blamed for damage or annoyance to landowners and others caused by mounted people,
whether connected with the hunt or not. The fact that the hunt has permission to cross land does not mean that
individuals may do it, on the way to or from a hunt, or at any other time. Thoughtlessness on the part of individual
riders can cause farms to be closed to all riding, including hunting. Always get permission before crossing private
property unless riding with the field, and when riding alone with permission be extra careful of crops, stock and gates."
Year round respect for landowners is a must as without their generosity we would not
be able to hunt at all. Always greet landowners, and their employees, cordially and observe the following
basic rules when riding on their property. Ride around the edge of seeded or mown lawns or planted fields.
Ride along the furrows of plowed fields and not across. Do not ride through wet meadows. Detour around
pastured stock if possible and prepare to walk or stop if stock becomes excited. If you open a gate, or are the
last through, close it securely and correctly. If you lower a rail, put it up securely. If you damage
crops, or damage or break a fence, fix it as best you can and report it immediately to a Master or member of staff.
On no account leave if there is danger of stock getting loose.
accidents can happen all riders are required to sign a release before mounting. In Virginia, all those following
hounds, whether mounted, on foot or in a vehicle, must carry a hunting license. Hunts don't usually enforce this
law but there have been occasions of game wardens turning up at meets......similarly all horses must have negative
Coggins certificates which should be carried in the trailer. It is also a good idea to carry emergency
information in the pocket of your coat - with your name, address, doctor, hospital of choice and contact details of whom to
get hold of in an emergency.
Cappers are always welcome with the
LHW but the amount of times you cap is limited to four - then it is courteous to pay your subscription in full which
should be done before Opening Meet for certain. If you are capping, always contact the Master prior to the
day in question to confirm your attendance. If members wish to bring along a guest, again, they're welcome but
do speak with the Master beforehand.
Always be punctual at the
meet. There is nothing more discourteous to hounds, staff, Masters and other field members than arriving at the
meet as everyone is moving off - you actually should not even unload your horse, if you're that late, and head back home!!
It's better to be a half an hour early than five minutes late. Be aware of where you're parking your trailer
- avoid low, wet spots, gateways and driveways. Don't crowd in gateways, spread out. If you hack to
the meet, avoid coverts which are likely to be drawn that day - stick to roads where possible.
When hounds are drawing, keep with the remainder of the field and behind the field Master.
Do not follow the huntsman or whippers-in when they are listening to hounds. Do not talk loudly in the field,
most especially when hounds are drawing - if you must say something to someone, keep it in half tones and keep it brief!!
Voices carry a long way and can be distracting to hounds. Stand still at a check and keep quiet. When
a fox is holloaed away, don't move until the field Master does. If you view a fox, inform the field Master quickly
but quietly and remove your hat, pointing it in the direction you saw the fox travelling, giving it a "count
of ten" grace. The huntsman will need to know the answers to three questions when he gets to you - where
did the fox come from, where did it go and how long ago? - so be prepared!!
and staff always have right of way so continually keep a look out over your shoulder whilst on the move. Turn
your horse's head towards passing hounds, staff and other horses to avoid kicking them and back into woods or off of the trail.
When the entire field moves over for the huntsman, staff or hounds they should all go to the same side. If
you are aware of hounds, huntsman or staff coming up behind you, warn the other field members by yelling, "huntsman please",
"hounds please" or "staff please". Do not yell " 'ware huntsman", " 'ware
hounds" and save that for hazardous obstacles such as "wire", "hole" or "skunk"!!
Keep a safe distance behind the horse in front of you but keep up. Stragglers
can interfere with hound work and can turn a fox. If your horse is liable to kick, put a red ribbon in it's tail
and stay at the back. If it is a habitual kicker then find another job for it out of the hunt field - it will
not be welcome back once it has kicked a hound. If you're on a young or inexperienced horse, put a green
ribbon in it's tail and stay at the back. There is a universal gesture used in the hunt field to ask other riders
to back off - put either one of your arms in the small of your back with the palm facing out and back.
This can be particularly useful for those "thrusters" who like to ride on your horse's heels!!
When jumping, if your horse refuses a fence, go immediately to the back - schooling
is not permitted in the hunt field. Do not bump, crowd, cut-in or cut off other riders at a fence or gate
and always look behind in case a staff member needs to get past in a hurry. Try to avoid galloping up behind
other riders. Show every consideration to a person on a young or green horse - all good field hunters have
to start somewhere! Keep your horse under control at all times as there is nothing more dangerous in the
hunt field. Avoid "larking" over fences.
and new subscribers, unless invited up front by the Master, should ride at the back of their field and should give way to
senior members. It's okay when on a run to go past these well established members but once hounds have checked
and the field is at a standstill, go quietly back to your place!!
the end of the day, whatever time it is, always bid "Goodnight" to the Master and staff. Always walk
your horse back to the trailer or barn to cool them out and loosen the girth. Courtesy, good manners
and respect for others costs nothing and a "thank you" goes along way.
Some practical and helpful hints ~
Arrive at the meet with a clean horse and clean tack - first impressions last
a long time!
your trailer the night before - have a check list of everything you may need.
wear a traditional and ASHA approved safety hat with a harness
traditional and workmanlike tack with a breastplate or martingale - a neck strap has been the saving grace of many foxhunters!
When using a new or different bit do ensure the horse has been ridden in it at home before hunting in the field.
Pay attention to what is going on around you and watch where you are going.
Remain with a rider who is closing a gate, putting up a rail, adjusting tack or
having fallen off before catching up with the remainder of the field quickly and quietly.
Do not talk to hounds whilst in the hunt field. They are doing a job and are easily distracted.
If you must go in early, always inform your field Master -
they can tell you of the safest and least disruptive way back to the trailers.
When hunting on a cold day, dress warmly in layers.
thank drivers of vehicles who slow or stop for you to pass, without brandishing the whip you may be carrying - an open handed
wave is preferable.
Spread out when crossing a field rather than
riding in single file - a farmer doesn't want deep ruts in his land.
There are three ways to reverse when on a trail:
there is room, turn your horse's head facing the trail with it's hind end off of the track.
When there isn't room to turn around the field Master will move forward and make a U turn.
Keep moving and follow suit when it's your turn.
If the trail is
really tight the field Master rmay just ask everyone to reverse which means you will end up in reverse order.
Used to get out of a tight spot quickly.
If you're allergic to bee
stings or have other allergies or asthma carry some of your prescription with you and inform your field Master of potential
No matter what the weather, how hot or cold you are, or the
length of time you've spent in the saddle - do not complain and keep smiling!!