There are proper conventions and etiquette that participants are expected to follow. Any unsafe, rude or unsportsmanlike conduct will be addressed by the Master up to and including removal of a rider from the field. The Master is the final authority in the field, any requests by the Master must be followed immediately and without discussion.
Before the Hunt
- Be prompt
- When arriving at the meet, introduce your friends to the honorary secretary, pay the capping fee (if applicable), and then go to the Master(s) for an introduction.
- Greet the huntsman while he or she is gathering hounds and greet the Field Master before he or she gathers the field. Thank them both before the end of the day.
- Your horse and tack must be clean and neat and in good repair.
- You should be clean and neat as well. Do not wear anything that could get caught on trees or other obstacles and cause injury to you or your horse.
Photo by Douglass Lees
During the hunt
- If you choose to ride in the First Flight Field, please maintain the pace of the Field Master. Those who wish to pick and chose their jumps should ride at the back of the First Flight.
- When jumping, don't approach the take-off area until the preceding horse and rider have taken the jump safely and advanced three or four strides.
- If your horse refuses to jump, try once again. If it refuses on the second attempt, go to the back of the field. Never go around a fence as it is being jumped.
- In the course of a refusal, don't allow your horse to run into a cropped field. Remain in the rear of the jumping field until you are confident your horse will not refuse again.
- Any non-riding members are always welcome and encouraged to follow the hunt by car or on foot, with supervision or after discussing proper protocol.
Conduct in the Field
- The Master, hunt staff and hounds should be given the right of way at all times. Always turn your horse so that its head is facing hounds, Master or staff as they pass.
- Stay behind your Field Master at all times and follow his or her line. Never pass the Master or ride an alternate route without his or her permission. If he or she crosses a field by hugging the edge, do likewise. Keep up with the Field Master, since leaving large gaps can interfere with the day’s sport.
- Please be quiet while hounds are being cast. Speak in a low tone of voice, so as not to raise hounds from hunting. All hallooing, calling out to and attempts to give direction to a hound by members of the field are not only bad manners, but apt to spoil sport for everyone.
- However, if a hound comes in between horses or you see that a hound will be coming close to other horses let others know by calling "hound(s) please" to alert members to give the hound the right of way. If the hound does not appear to be in a position to encounter the horses, no call is necessary.
- If you see a danger to another rider, such as a hole or a low tree branch you should call out "Ware hole" or "Ware branch".
- If a Whipper-in or the huntsman is coming up from ahead or behind and will need to pass through the field of riders, let others know by calling "Whip please" or "Hunt please". ALWAYS turn your horses head toward the rider so as to prevent your horse from kicking out as it passes.
- If you view a fox and the hounds are on the line, do nothing to interfere with the hounds or the fox. If you view a fox as he breaks covert and the hounds are not on the line, do not make a sound and wait for him to be well away from the covert. Then signal the Field Master by raising your cap so he may choose whether to "Tally-ho" or to send a rider to the
huntsman. Do not lose sight of where the fox broke covert. You may be asked to show the
huntsman exactly where you viewed.
- If your horse has a tendency to kick, put a red ribbon on its tail. This warning symbol does not relieve you from the primary responsibility of keeping the mount at a safe distance from others. Horses that kick should be ridden in the back of the field, even when a red ribbon is worn.
- If you get lost or separated from the hunt, go directly to the nearest public road. Stay on the public roadways until you are able to rejoin the field.
- Do not ride over crops, and keep off all seeded fields. Close any gates you open. Do not close any gate you find open. If you take a rail down, put it back. Leave everything as you found it.
- Members of the field waive all claims against landowners for injuries to themselves or their mounts. If there is an injury a few members of the field may volunteer or be designated by the Field Master to stay with the injured party and coordinate any needed help. The rest of the field should follow the Field Master and continue hunting.
On non-hunting days and off-season
- When a hunt has been given the privilege of riding over a landowner’s property, it does not mean that members of that
hunt or anyone else have the right to trespass without specific permission from the landowner, the appointed agent, tenant or farmer, whether hacking on non-hunting days, going to a meet or not keeping up or returning from a hunt. Always be conscious of ground conditions and do not ride across land where conditions are poor.
- Be courteous and friendly to the public. A smile, wave of the hand or tipping one’s cap does wonders for the good of our sport. Do not impede traffic while on your horse. Public relations are everyone’s responsibility.