Wicomico Hunt Club
ETIQUETTE IN THE FIELD
Pre Hunt Arrive at the meet at least 20 to 30 minutes early with your horse tacked up. Haste results in forgetting or misadjusting something. You must be ready to move off with the field. Assure trailer is well clear of road or drive. Greet the Master and Staff with a “Good Morning,” not chat, as they’re probably busy. Double check girth, buckles, keepers and fly. Post Hunt After hounds are finished hunting and the field is moving back to the trailers, do not lark unless the Field Master does. Remember to thank the hard-working Master, Field Master, Huntsman and staff. When tailgating, bring a munchie or something for the coolers. When entering a house for a breakfast, wear a hacking jacket, remove your hat, spurs, and clean your boot soles. When you leave a meet at the end of the day, try to leave it like you found it-no trash, loose hay or manure. It is bad manners to clean out your trailer in someone else’s field or parking lot.
Visitors or Guests Visitors are welcome, but they are expected to ask permission of a Master beforehand. 12 Members may invite guests to cap during regular season meets. Call a Master for permission at least a day before the meet. Arrangements must also be made with the Field Secretary. Guests and visitors must sign a waiver and pay their capping fees by check (or by cash in an envelope with the capper’s name and address) to the Field Secretary before the field is ready to move off. Introduce your guests to the Master and Field Secretary before moving off. Members bringing guests are responsible for making sure they sign waivers, pay the cap, are correctly turned out and are properly mounted. Unless invited by the Field Master to ride up front, members should stay with the guests, back a bit in the field.Guests and visitors may cap three times in any season before a membership application is expected. At the discretion of the Masters capping fees may be applied to dues, if the individual applies for membership during the season when the cap fees were paid. See the fixture card for the current capping fees.
Before Moving Off At the meet say good morning to all the Masters and the Field Secretary and remember to always introduce guests. The Masters like to know who is out on any given day. However, the Master, Huntsman and staff are extremely busy getting things organized and planning the hunt in order to give you the best sport and the most fun. Please do them the courtesy of a friendly “Good Morning/Afternoon”, but do not attempt to engage them in extended conversation at this time. They will be more than happy to visit with you concerning your thoughts and reflections on the day’s sport after the hunt and after horses and hounds are safely in their trailer.
On Our Hosts’ Land Remember, we are guests and we depend on the continued hospitality of generous landowners. We work hard to be able to hunt from anywhere in our hunted country. That privilege does not come easily and must be honored and guarded, for once it is compromised the damage may never be repaired. There are no excuses. If you get separated from the field, try to find your way back to a main vantage point and wait. You may even need to return to the trailers. Do not roam around in areas you do not know. If hounds are approaching, stop and stay quiet. Assure all gates are closed. Damaged livestock fences should be repaired immediately, if possible. Notify the Master. Stay off crops, stay to the edge of planted or plowed fields, and stay off lawns. Don’t gallop near livestock. The hunt has permission to ride over land for a particular meet, but any other time you do not.
Right-of-Way The Field Master, the hunt staff, and hounds always have full right-of-way. If the Huntsman needs to bring the pack of hounds back through the field, please give way, if possible by backing off the trail. Turn your horse’s head towards’ hounds. This will prevent the hounds or Huntsman from being kicked. To help staff to pass on a trail, move off the trail, if possible, or move to the right side of the trail and keep moving. Assure that your horse sees them. Alert others with a “Staff, please.” The first flight has the right-of-way over the second and third flight.
Around Hounds Do not speak to hounds. That is for staff alone. Don’t interfere with hounds unless asked to by staff. Don’t ride down the hounds. If a hound is trying to get forward up through a moving field, keep moving but give him what room you can, and cock your horse’s head enough so that the horse can see the hound and not be surprised. Notify other riders of hounds’ presence on a trail with “Ware hound right/left.” You may drop your whip’s thong to keep hounds away from your horse’s legs.Any kicking is absolutely unacceptable behavior, but kicking a hound is an almost unforgivable offense. Punishment should be immediate and severe. If your horse kicks a hound, note which one it is so staff can check it for injury. Repetitions are grounds for exile.
Around Horses Do not cut off other riders or ride on their heels. Try and rate your speed so as not to surprise someone behind you. A good rule of thumb is to keep your horse one to four lengths from the horse in front of you, one at a walk, four at a gallop. The greener the horse or rider, the further back in the field they should remain. Unruly or out-of-control horses should ride at the rear and may be sent home if they continue to be a problem or pose a danger to riders, horses or hounds.A horse known to kick is the rider’s responsibility. It should wear a red tail yarn and should be kept out of the way, toward the rear of the field. The ribbon is not an excuse or a license to kick. A kicked horse should be checked for injury.To “Reverse Field,” move off the trail to let the field turn around, ending up in the original order. On a narrow trail, if directed by the Field Master, do an about face, and move off in reverse of the original order until the Field Master gets things reorganized in an open area or reverses direction again. After a hazard, jump, or uncomfortable place, move on so the whole field can pass the problem area. Do not run into or up on another horse’s rear to stop your horse. Brakes are most important, so bit your horse accordingly. Remember, it takes more to stop a horse in the hunt field than it does at home.
Questions about propriety, details, and practicality may always be addressed to the Masters.
Around Field Masters The Field Master may have the best spot in the hunt field, but it is a difficult job. They are responsible for both the safety and pleasure of the field and thus are preoccupied with observing hounds and deciding where to place the field so as not to interfere with the Huntsman’s work, yet show off the sport to best advantage. The Field Master is charged with absolute power in the hunt field and may suspend the hunting privileges of individuals who jeopardize the safety and pleasure of the day’s hunting.Members of the field should not pass, ride ahead of, or interfere with the Field Master’s freedom of movement. Allow the Field Master to listen for hounds and horn and give him the space to stop or turn abruptly. Do not pass the Field Master without good cause, either with permission or with an apology; and do not get between the Field Master and the Huntsman or hounds. Whatever happens, do not run into the Field Master’s horse’s rear to help stop your horse. Always let the Field Master know of any injuries, stragglers, or dropouts.
Around Other Riders When riding in the field, one must be aware of the country being covered and the location of other riders, horses, and hounds. One needs to maintain a “safety area” around him while respecting other riders’ areas. “Give a man room to fall” is a wise old adage. Keep your voice down and your conversation short. When hounds are drawing cover or at a check, be quiet to minimize distraction. A continuously loud, raucous group of foxhunters will require the Field Master to keep the field far away from hounds. “Hark!” means “Quiet! Listen!”The field should stay together. The second flight should, as a group, stay with their designated Field Master. If you cannot keep up with the first flight, drop back to the second, after notifying the Field Master and remain there. If you need to leave the hunt field early, ask permission from the Field Master. He will give you permission to leave when he thinks you are least likely to interfere with sport. Wandering riders may disrupt the hunting by getting lost, leaving gates open, or trespassing. Landowners do not appreciate this.
If you see a fox, a conversational “Tally Ho” and tipping your hat or pointing your whip will give others a chance to view also. If asked by the Field Master, ride to the line of the fox, point your horse in the direction the fox was going and hold up you cap. A raised forearm means “Hold Hard.” Stop where you are and keep silent. Raise your own forearm, also, to signal others behind you.
If you see a dangerous hole or wire, turn your head and say (don’t yell) “Ware Hole” or “Ware Wire” to the person behind you, and point to the hazard. This is passed back through the field as each rider approaches. At speed a louder voice may be appropriate.
Around Jumps Jumps have one use-to get you where you want to go more quickly than a gate or detour would. Do not jump until all hounds are clear. Leave enough room ahead to stop in case of a refusal or fall. If your horse refuses, move to the back of the line. If your horse quits at a jump a few times, it might behoove you to retire to the non-jumping field. Horses usually stop when they are tired (or just tired of their rider), sore, or scared, all of which are signs that you or your horse might get hurt if you continue to try to jump. If you get hurt, you will ruin your day as well as the people who will have to assist you. Larking (jumping unnecessarily) on the way home is discouraged unless approved by the Field Master. If you do not plan to jump you should ride in the back of the first field so as not to confuse the horse behind you.If someone is injured at a jump, or anytime, notify the Field Master. If someone falls, but is uninjured, the field may continue. One rider should stay behind (keeping an eye on which way the field went) until the faller is comfortably remounted. A loose horse should be caught using a calm entreaty, not by galloping after it and hollering. Damage to jumps must be fixed immediately, if possible, and reported to the Field Master, so the hunt can make permanent repairs.
Visiting Other Hunts If you are visiting as an individual or with a small group, ask the host Master at least a day ahead of time for permission to visit. Introduce yourself to the host Master and pay your capping fees to the Field Secretary before mounting. Stay back a bit in the field unless invited to come forward. If not hunting with WH, do not wear WH colors without the host Master’s invitation.
Joint Meets The Masters will occasionally arrange with other hunts to have a day hunting their packs together. Even on a weekday, WH formal dress rules apply unless the Masters indicate otherwise. These are special hunts, a grand opportunity to see some of the best hounds in the East, to meet some of the most interesting Masters and Huntsmen in the sport and to socialize with some of the most enthusiastic followers anywhere.paragraph here.