Foxhunting etiquette and rules are based on traditions that harken back hundreds of years to the very beginning of foxhunting. They have evolved through the need to handle certain situations in a uniform, disciplined manner to preserve order and safety in the field. If you have never ridden to hounds before, those antique hunt prints that have adorned walls throughout history are about to take on a whole new meaning. For most people, a brisk morning, fresh horses, and baying hounds are indeed a life-changing experience.
SAFETY IN THE FIELD
Foxhunting statistically is a very safe sport. The following common sense and sound practices contribute to making it that way.
Hounds, Huntsman, and hunt Staff must have the right of way at all times in order to do their work. For this reason members of the field must remain behind the Field Master and under his control. If Staff or hounds pass the field on a narrow path, get your horse completely off the path and turn him so he is facing the passing staff or hound on the path.
Do not follow too closely behind the horse in front of you. (You should be able to see his shoes.) One horse length is good. If you have a horse that occasionally kicks, tie a red ribbon on his tail and ride in the rear.
As you approach a jump, find your place in line well back from the jump. Don't cut in front of someone who is committed. Give the rider in front of you enough room to fall. If your horse refuses, pull out and join the end of the line. After the jump, keep moving to allow room for the riders behind you.
Always be alert for ground hog holes; they are everywhere. They are usually in clusters and some are well camouflaged. If you see one, stay well away. Turn your head toward the rider behind and say quietly "ware hole" while pointing with your hunting whip. The same procedure will suffice in passing instructions on closing or leaving a gate open; ie quietly speaking to the rider behind you.
When going through woods do not hold a branch for the rider behind you. Do not smoke. Smoking in the field creates an unforgivable fire hazard; it also destroys scent. If you are addicted to tobacco, please chew.
If it were not for the generous hospitality of the landowners who allow us to hunt on their property, we would have no hunt. Please do your best to minimize damage to land, farm animals and pets. Leave gates as they are found; if in doubt, close them. Do not ride through cultivated fields. Make a wide detour around pastured live stock. Do not jump fences unnecessarily. If you break a fence or do any other damage, report it to an officer of the hunt and make arrangements to see that it is repaired. Don't ride on a landowner's lawn. Do not litter - not even a slight infraction (use your pocket or your sandwich box).
Long-standing members who have been awarded colors are generally offered the courtesy of riding, at their option, toward the front. Newer members, juniors, and those with green horses should make this offer and ride in the rear. Please keep up or pull aside and invite those behind you go ahead. Don't let your pace spoil the hunt for those behind you. On hunts designated as junior, we invite juniors to ride in front and to occasionally assist with hounds.
Keep in mind you are hunting wild game. Be attentive to the hounds as they do their work. When hounds are working be quiet and alert.
1. Upon arriving at a meet, it is traditional to greet the Masters and their staff.
2. If you have guests, introduce them to the Masters and the Honorary Secretary and ensure that their cap fee is paid before the hunt. (Please do not do this from the back of your horse.) The cap should be enclosed in an envelope with your and guest's name printed on the outside. If a child or inexperienced adult is your guest, it is your responsibility to stay with them and to assist them throughout the hunt.
3. Decide in advance whether you wish to ride with the hilltoppers or the jumping field, stay well up with that field; do not change back and forth, and do not straggle behind. Do not go into the woods on your own as this will distract the hounds, disturb the game in the area, and make it difficult for the huntsman to draw the covert properly. During the meet, if you must leave the field for any reason, please request permission from the Field Master get their advice on which areas to avoid so as not to disturb the hounds.
4. Do not pass or over-ride or crowd the field master. At a check, keep your horse quiet so the Master and staff can listen for hounds. If you cannot fully control your horse, if he is green or a kicker, or if you cannot stop him from running up on the horse ahead of you, stay to the rear of the field. Try to keep at least one length between horses. When staff must pass through the field, turn your horse's hindquarters away from their path and back off the trail to allow them room to pass rapidly. To avoid holes, stay in line while crossing open fields and, for safety, never pass on narrow trails or at any gait faster than an extended trot.
5. Never speak to or interfere with the hounds except in emergency situations, such as to protect them from road traffic, or to prevent attack on a landowner's yard pet, etc. Do not let your horse step on, kick, or harm a hound. Hounds have the right-of-way and if hounds are ahead of you over a jump, hold back and allow them to get well clear before you go forward.
6. If you view a fox, stand in your stirrups, take off your cap, and point in its direction. Use good judgment in shouting Tally Ho! You should not frighten it and cause the fox to change direction.
7. No smoking in the hunt field.
8. Keep to the edges of fields so as not to destroy crops. Always be courteous and considerate to landowners and tenants. Close all gates. If last in line, put rider rails back in place and try to ensure that no livestock escapes. Remember, you are a guest in their country.
9. If you do not understand why the Field Master, Huntsman, or staff do something, ask them questions after the day is over. They will be more than happy to help you and to explain.
10. If following in a car, please stay to the main roads, and do not interfere with the staff or field. Car exhaust and engine noises do nothing to help hound hunt! Often, trails re so narrow that it is dangerous to horse and hound to have vehicles roaming the hunting country.
11. At the end of the day, thank your Master, Field Master, Huntsman, and staff. They work hard to ensure an enjoyable day and appreciate your consideration. Above all, enjoy yourself! Because that's what foxhunting is all about.
The Glenmore Hunt wishes you a safe season and one you will remember always as a fun and exhilarating time in communication with nature.
We look forward to seeing you regularly.
Masters, Staff, and Officers
Glenmore Hunt Club