Fall is such a wonderful time of year when the field is mounted in full flight over hill and dale in pursuit of a good gallop in the countryside. The Hunt is an exhilarating sport for those adventuresome types, as well as for meeker types who follow on foot.
By Keswick Life, Photo by Warner Granade
The Master is the final authority in the field –
We often need to refresh the traditions and etiquette of this age-old sport. Foxhunting is meant to be a fun sport; after all, most foxhunters have risen early, cleaned a horse, tack, clothes, etc. shipped to the meet, and they are expecting a fun morning in the sport. The courtesies and conventions of the hunting field, developed over the centuries, aim to produce an environment in which an exuberant sport may flourish pleasurably and safely. As each new season begins, it is never inappropriate to remind ourselves of the courtesies
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. At the beginning of the meet, all should greet the Master and Hunt Staff with a pleasant “Good Morning” starting the day to the “Moving Off” sound of the huntsman’s horn, awaiting a fun day of sport. 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. At the end of the day, thank the Master, Huntsman, and Staff; they worked hard, bringing you a day’s sport.
If there is one single overarching concept to understand about foxhunting, it is that we are guests on someone’s land and enjoy our sport solely through his/her goodwill. Without the Landowner’s hospitality, there is no hunting. The question is: How do we maintain that goodwill? We answer that question every hunting day in the way we treat our landowners’ land, crops, and livestock. 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. 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. 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.
Although the Hunt may not be everyone’s cup of tea, there can be no doubt that the efforts of a Hunt Club and their dedicated members throughout the world have successfully preserved vast tracts of land, in its original state — wild, unspoiled, and a safe haven to the teeming wildlife, ecosystems, and habitat that coexist on the land.
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.
“You and your horse should be properly turned out.”
While the guidelines for hunting attire vary in details from club to club, each follows similar rules of attire. You should be clean and neat, make sure your horse is fit and ready to hunt and is clean and properly turned out.
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.
For ladies and men — tan breeches, black boots, black jackets, yellow or tattersall waistcoat, white shirt and stock tie, knotted and secured with a stock pin. Each article has a field-ready purpose; the wool Melton jackets are tightly woven to repel the inevitable precipitation, vests, or waistcoats are insulating as well as protective, knee-high boots save legs from scratches and scrapes. Historically, the stock tie and pin looking so impeccably turned out performed double duty as a tourniquet or sling. Tack should be of black or brown leather, with a white saddle pad, preferably contoured, not square. No colored pads, boots, wraps, fleece, etc., are allowed, especially on formal days – this is clearly not a sport for the faint of heart. When a rider has reached a certain level of dedication and expertise, he or she is awarded their “colors” by the Hunt’s Masters. This is a great honor and is designated with a change in dress. For women in the field, jacket collars are trimmed with the club colors, while men earn the right to wear “pinks” with white breeches… pinks… scarlet… red — it can all be quite confusing. “The proper term is always ‘scarlet’ when referring to ‘pinks,’ named after the tailor Mr. Pink who made the jackets in his London shop. Traditionally ‘red’ is never used as a descriptive term.” Also, interesting to note, “When the British soldiers came home from the war, they hunted in their uniform (redcoats).” Members of other hunts should always ask permission of a Master to wear their colors when hunting with a different hunt
Keswick colors were awarded to Suzanne Hanagan, Vanessa Massaro, Susan Travellin, DeeDee Slewka, Sophie LaPorte, Carol Pattie, Tracy Kilpatrick, Robin Schuler, Will Coleman III, Yvonne Wilson, Joel and Nicolette Merle-Smith, and Jerrie and Meri Wade. The Barrister Award was given to Warner Granade, for his many contributions to KHC above and beyond any reasonable expectation.