Fox Hunting Etiquette
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.
- Never take rides on hunt or non-hunt days through hunting territory unless you have permission from the landowner(s) and have called to make sure the area you wish to ride in is open.
- Because we are representing the Keswick Hunt Club each time we go out, make sure your horse is fit and ready to hunt and is clean and properly turned out.
- Put a red ribbon in the tail of a horse who kicks (and keep to the rear) and a green ribbon in the tail of a green horse.
- You should be clean and neat as well. There are opportunities to get dirty along the way.
- If you have long hair, you must wear a hair net – male or female.
- Rated safety helmets are strongly recommended and all helmet chin straps should be securely fastened.
- Tack should be of black or brown leather, with a white saddle pad, preferably contoured, not square. No colored pads, boots, wraps, fleece, etc., especially on formal days.
Respect Our Landowners
- Landowners are our lifeblood. Never miss an opportunity to speak to them and thank them. Please look for them at the meet to greet them.
- Please greet everyone you see working on the farm.
- Leave gates open that you find open and close securely those you find closed.
- If you break a fence while hunting, it is your responsibility to fix it then and there. If that is impossible, prop it up as best you can and immediately report it to your field master.
- Go around any crop fields or fields that you suspect have been recently seeded.
- Go slowly around livestock so as not to agitate them or make them run.
- Be careful around loose horses and make sure they do not follow you over any jumps.
- Do not go on any lawns or mowed areas.
- If on the road, where possible, get to the side to allow cars to come through. Also, remember to please wave and greet cars passing on the road.
Before the Hunt
- Arrive early and give yourself time to be tacked up and mounted before the hunt goes out. If you are late the hunt will leave without you.
- When you arrive at the Meet, go up and say “Good Morning” to the Masters.
- If you bring a guest, introduce him/her to the Masters and Field Master, make sure they have signed a release before tacking up and paid the capping fee before hunting commences. It is your responsibility to inform them of proper etiquette and ride with them at the back of the field.
- If you choose to carry your cell phone while hunting, be sure to silence it before the meet starts. Further, be mindful if taking photos to be discrete, respect the privacy of our landowners, and never allow it to distract from hunting. Should you need to make an emergency phone call, ask your Field Master where the best place is to do that where you will be out of the way.
During the Hunt
- The riding order in each field is as follows:
- Field Master
- Ex-Masters, Masters of other Hunts, by invitation of the Master
- Gentlemen and Ladies with colors
- Gentlemen and Lady members
- Visitors and Guests with their sponsors
- Juniors with colors
With respect for the overall visual picture, the less correctly turned out riders should remain in the rear of the field. Members of other hunts may have their colors honored by the Master and would then ride accordingly in the field. Members of other hunts should always ask permission of a Master to wear their colors when hunting with a different hunt (excluding formal joint meets).
- Hounds have the right of way, do not ride or jump into hounds. Give them room to get by you in the woods.
- When the hounds have checked, please be quiet and still so they can figure things out.
- Never address any hound personally unless asked to by one of the Masters or staff.
- If your horse kicks a hound, reprimand it severely and go to the back of the field. If your horse does it again, you will need to go home.
- Watch the hounds working – that is why we are here. Do not speak to one another when close to hounds.
- Do not pass the Field Master.
- When a staff member passes by you, especially on narrow lanes, move quickly off the path and turn your horse’s head toward the staff member…never your horse’s tail.
- Stay in close to the field that you are riding with, straying off or working your horse is termed ‘larking’ and is not acceptable.
- If you must leave the field, ask permission of the Field Master. If joining another flight, make your presence known to your new Field Master. If you are heading back to the trailers you should go with one other person for safety reasons.
- Watch the horse in front of you, do not crowd other horses. Keeping sight of the hind feet of the horse in front of you through your horse’s ears will give you proper spacing.
- Please be considerate of the riders in front of and behind you. If you find that your horse cannot keep up and you are detaining other riders, it is common courtesy to offer to let them by you. However, it is also common courtesy to ask to pass someone or, if moving at speed, to alert the rider that you are passing and which side you are passing on, e.g., “On your right.” However, do not pass other horses too closely or at a very high rate of speed.
- Listen for instructions: Reverse field, Hold hard, Ware Staff, Ware Wire, Ware Hole on right, etc. Pass on warnings to the person behind you. When alerting a rider behind you remember it isn’t necessary to shout, only speak loud enough for the rider behind you to hear. It is your responsibility to make sure the person behind you knows what to expect.
- If you see a hole, wire or any other obstacle, point to the obstacle and alert the rider behind you by saying “Ware hole,” etc.
- When going through a gate alert the rider behind you if the gate should be closed (“Gate, please”) or left open (“Gate open”).
- Keep chatter to a minimum while the hunt is underway. Talking is allowable while roading to and from checks, and when the hounds are not being hunted. Keep an eye on the Master for a raised hand to signal quiet when we are stopped.
- Ensure that both you and your horse are capable of safely jumping the obstacles that we encounter. If you are afraid of a jump or your horse is getting dangerous, please fall back to the second flight or the hilltop group.
- Jumps are to be approached in single file. Leave enough space between you and the horse in front of you to be able to stop or turn away from the jump if the other rider’s horse refuses or the rider comes off at or just after the jump.
- If your horse refuses a jump, go to the back of the line and try again. Do not continue to school your horse at the jump and do not prevent others from taking the jump and following the hunt. If you need a lead for the next time ask another rider on the way back.
- Never give chase to a loose, running horse.
- If you are asked to get a gate, only one other horse need remain there with you. Once everyone has come through, please return to the field as swiftly as possible.
- If you view a fox, quietly let the field master know the location.
- Pick a field at the meet. There are three: The first field jumps and moves along. The second field moves along and allows people to jump when appropriate. The third or hilltop field is slower and does not jump. The third field will go as slow as the slowest person in that field.
- The hilltop field is recommended for riders and/or horses who are not suited for first flight for any number of reasons: novice rider, green horse, out-of-condition, aging, trappy territory, or simply to avoid jumping.
- If you have difficulty controlling your horse, you will need to go to the back of the field.
After the Hunt
- At the end of the day thank the Master, Huntsman, and Staff; they worked hard bringing you a day’s sport.