Miami Valley Hunt: 

Introductory Guide For Foxhunters

 

Part I - Organization in the Field

A. THE MASTER, or MFH, is in overall command of the hunt and his word is final in the field and in the kennels. He decides when and where hounds will meet, what coverts are to be drawn, and when hounds will go home. He is responsible for hounds showing the best possible sport under existing conditions; and he is responsible for the hounds, the staff, and the Field neither damaging nor annoying the landowners who make the sport possible. He is the boss, and during his term of office there is no higher appeal. In many hunts the duties of the Master are divided between two Joint Masters.

B. THE HUNTSMAN controls the hounds, indicating to them by signals where he wishes them to draw for a fox, and he is responsible for a fox being well hunted when found. He attempts to be sure that hounds work together as a pack by encouraging the tail hounds and steadying the lead hounds, and in case of a check he must be prepared to assist hounds to recover the line by use of a cast if necessary. His technical decisions must be quickly made, and staff and Field must abide by them or utter chaos will ensue.

C. THE WHIPPERS-IN assist the Huntsman in controlling hounds by turning them back to the Huntsman or by encouraging them forward to him as necessary. Also, they are used by the Huntsman as scouts to get notice of the movement of a fox. No one except the Huntsman gives orders to Whippers-In. No one except by request of the Huntsman or MFH should accompany them or attempt to assist them.

D. THE FIELD consists of the mounted followers and is controlled by the Field Master who rides at the head of it. The Field Master is responsible for seeing that the Field does not interfere with hounds in their work; and he is also responsible for seeing that the Field avoids damage to the landowners. The Field should be aligned behind the Master by order of their office and by seniority of membership in the Hunt. All Junior members shall follow behind the Senior members. Please do not change position in the field as all unnecessary commotion tends to distract the hounds.

E. THE SECRETARY assists the Field Master in his job of observing and reporting the behavior of the Field, particularly as if affects the landowners. Damaged fences should be reported to the Secretary. "Capping Fees" - (a set fee per hunt) must be paid to the Field Secretary before mounting.

 

Part II - Hunting Etiquette

A. LANDOWNERS - "You have no business on a man's land but are there by his sufferance and he is entifled to every consideration." If you take down a rail you should put it back. If you open a gate you should shut it. If you break,a fence or do any damage that you cannot repair, you should report it at once to the responsible officers of the Hunt so it may be made good. Do not jump fences unnecessarily. If your horse breaks a fence when hounds are running, or when there is no other way through, it is an accident; but if you jump a farmer's fence for fun or experience, it means to him that you are too lazy to build a schooling course for yourself, and the Hunt and all hunting people are blamed for your thoughtlessness. Do not hack on private property without the express permission of the owner. Be careful when smoking, particularly during the dry seasons.

B. NEVER CROWD THE HUNTSMAN - Never get between the Huntsman and the pack, and never, if you can possibly avoid it, get between any hound and the Huntsman. The Huntsman should be given the right of way at all times - pull your horse well away from the passing hounds with your horse facing the hounds.

C. THE WHIPPERS-IN must also be given the right of way at all times. The sooner each gets forward to his proper position, the surer you are of sport. Do not follow a Whipper-In when he is sent off on a point. Never get between a Whipper-In and the Huntsman on the road. Never ride beside a Whipper-In for he may have to turn quickly and unexpectedly.

D. THE HOUNDS - Keep away from them at all times. Even if you consider the hounds worthless, the Master may be quaintly indifferent to your opinion. Remember the quietest horse will kick at a strange dog, and the stupidest dog distrusts a strange horse, so KEEP AWAY. NO HOUND CAN HUNT WHILE FIGURING THE ODDS OF BEING BITTEN, KICKED, OR STEPPED ON, and if the Field keep pressing them in any direction, however slowly, the benighted beasts are capable of thinking there is a rational cause for it. And KEEP AWAY FROM THE HUNTSMAN so he may be in full view of the hounds so they can see him and follow his movements and signals. Do not get between the Huntsman and the Whipper-In on the road. There are miles of road before and behind where your equestrianism will be more appreciated.

E. COURTESY TO OTHER RIDERS - "Remember that the most important gait in a hunter is the halt. If your horse won't stand, teach him; if he won't learn, sell him; if he won't sell, shoot him."..."If your horse is a kicker, braid a red ribbon in his tail as a warning but remember, the red ribbon does not rid you of responsibility. If some darn fool keeps riding up on his heels, and he shows signs of resenting it, hold his head up and warn them off. Do not crowd against other horses or get the annoying habit of getting slightly ahead of another horse." If you see a hole, turn your head to the rear and say "ware hole" in a tone just loud enough to reach the rider next behind. If you go through a gate, the last man through is expected to close it. YIELD THE RIGHT OF WAY AT ONCE IF YOUR HORSE REFUSES A JUMP. Never jump so close behind another person that you take a chance of jumping on him it he falls. These rules, of course, are merely common sense and the people who break them do so either through ignorance or lack of control. More exercise for your horse and less oats may be all that is needed. Sometimes a different bit will help.

Part III - Hounds

In speaking of hounds, there are certain ways of speech which distinguish those who know from "them what don't." This is so of sports generally - no sailor would speak of a mast as a pole, although it is one. Hounds are hounds, NOT DOGS. Hounds are counted in "couples." A male hound is known as a "dog hound." Likewise a female hound, no matter how exemplary, is known as a "bitch." A hound has a "stern" instead of a tail. When he moves same, he "feathers his stern." A hound never barks, he "opens," "gives tongue," or "speaks."

A.. HOUNDS IN COVERT (pronounced "cover") - When hounds are in covert, the Huntsman will place himself so as to best influence their movements in drawing for a fox. You should, of course, remain with the Field Master. Never go "ahead of the draw." If the Huntsman turns and comes back toward you, STAND STILL with your horse facing the hounds. When a hound finds a fox, if you are listening and not talking, you will hear him "speak" and sense the thrill which stops in their tracks all who hear it. The other hounds flock to confirm the find, and the Huntsman decides quickly whether to cheer the other hounds on or to await a more reliable witness. Once satisfied, the Huntsman cheers the hounds together and gives a series of short sharp blasts called "doubling the horn" to call hounds together. While the fox is ringing about the covert, the Whippers-In are probably posted at spots where they can view the fox if he leaves. Stay with the master who knows the country and will do his utmost to keep the field in view of the sport.

B. GONE AWAY - The fox goes away and the Whipper-In's cap goes up as he canters to the line: the Huntsman blows a series of short and long blasts. Many a fox has turned sharp at a fence row, proceeded a few hundred feet, and sat watching in obvious amusement while the Field, their eyes on the next jump and not listening for the faltering of the cry as hounds overran, have galloped across and completely obliterated his line and then formed a perfect barricade against hounds and Huntsman in their attempts to cast. Remember also that hounds are trained to react to movements of the Huntsman's horse and that movements of other horses distracts them, so stand sill at a check and watch what the Huntsman does. Normally he will stand still and watch his hounds while they make their own cast and will only interfere after they have definitely failed. He then picks them up as quiefly as possible and makes his cast. Let up hope that the cast is successful and the hounds hit off the line. The Huntsman gives a cheer and "doubles his horn" to collect any wide ranging hounds and to warn the Field who should be STANDING STILL behind where the hounds have checked instead of following the Huntsman about and interfering with his cast.

It is the responsibility of the rider to keep away from the hounds.