A Typical Meet:
We hunt in various terrains and weather conditions. Discuss with your host, what attire is appropriate for your day of hunting. Proper turnout is not only a hunting tradition but also a sign of respect.
Plan to arrive in time to sign waivers and pay fees before mounting, and be mounted at least ten minutes prior to “moving off “time. In this ten minute period riders gather to hear announcements and are introduced to the landowners who are thanked for providing permission to hunt their land, and guests are introduced to the field. At this time you will also be offered a “Stirrup Cup” (a drink of sherry or port) prior to the hunt commencing.
Once the hunt moves off, be prepared to meet other members of the field and forge new acquaintances to enjoy your hunting experience. A hunt can last several hours; you would be wise to bring a snack and or a drink with you.
At the conclusion of the hunt, either a ‘tailgate breakfast’ is enjoyed by all or you will be invited to attend an evening breakfast with your host to enjoy a hearty meal, liquid refreshments and swap tales of the days hunting escapades.
The leaders of our hunt are known as ‘Masters of Foxhunting’, a position of overall responsibility that has been a tradition over the centuries. The role of the Master can be likened to that of a president of an organization and is one which carries with it considerable responsibility and prestige. The Masters will usually lead the riders in the field, and when they are performing this role they are known as ‘Field Masters’. However, on some occasions other members of the hunt may well perform this function. In this case they are also known as ‘Field Masters’ and they will also have responsibility for the safety and control of the riders.
Followers of our hounds ride in one of two groups. Experienced riders on steady horses who are comfortable jumping obstacles at speed usually will ride with the ‘Main Field’. Those riders who prefer not to jump and prefer a more leisurely pace will usually rider with the ‘Hill Toppers’ field.
The ‘Main field’ follows the hunt as closely as possible without interfering with either hounds or the Huntsman and Whippers-in. The pace can reach cross country galloping speed and fences are usually negotiated in order to keep up with the hounds.
The Hill Toppers move at a distance endeavouring to see the hounds working, and anticipate where game may be flushed to observe a ‘viewing’. Hill Toppers are not required to jump fences and usually move at a slower pace than the Main field.
Riders are not permitted to pass the Field Masters and must obey the directions of the Field Masters. If a rider decides to retire for the day, he or she must advise the Field Master and request permission to leave. It is important that a rider does not cross through an area which will be hunted that day, as this could interfere with scenting.
Under the direction of the Masters, a
professional Huntsman is responsible for the kennels and all aspects of managing the hounds, including breeding, training, exercise, and of course, hunting. The Huntsman contributes to fostering a positive relationship with all landowners who provide permission to hunt on their lands.
The Huntsman is assisted by Whippers-in who participate in the hunting. This includes turning back hounds if they are running onto land not permitted to hunt, or busy roadways, rounding up hounds, and exercising of the hounds under the direction of the Huntsman.