Etiquette in the Hunt Field
Etiquette in the hunt field is inextricably linked to both rider/horse safety and positive landowner relations. It is imperative that every rider display proper hunting etiquette. Some points to remember include:
* Arrive at the meet at least thirty minutes before the hunt is scheduled to start, to avoid last minute confusion. Immediately check-in with the Field Secretary.
* Be careful where you park, to avoid blocking traffic.
* Remember it is inappropriate to clean out your trailer at the hunt. Be sure to bring a muck bucket to contain your horse's manure.
* Turn your horse (nose out) towards the hounds and hunt staff if the field is stopped and a staff member or hound needs to pass by.
* Give way to hounds if they need to pass you. Turn your horse's head toward the hounds, heals away. To step on or kick a hound is considered an unforgivable sin.
* If a hound is coming up behind you, allow him to pass and call "Ware hound left/right" to warn other riders of the hound's presence. Do not cut a hound off from the rest of the pack.
* When you see volunteers managing road crossings, be sure to say "thank you." When you see cars stop to let the horses by, raise your hand, wave and say "thank you." When you see a landowner, whether at the end of their driveway, in a field, or standing near the horses, be sure to thank them for their generosity in letting the NHC hunt their land.
* If the horse refuses to jump a fence, go immediately to the back of your field. Do not circle and try jumping the fence again.
* If you are jumping an in-and-out fence, be sure the rider ahead of you completes both elements before you begin to jump.
* If you are going down a hill, when you get to the bottom, wait for the person behind you, so there is no chance of the following horse feeling left behind.
* Respect the hierarchy of the field.
1.) First Field = Jumpers. The first field of riders jumps all fences.
2.) Second Field = Pick and Choose. The second field of riders jump most all fences, based on their comfort level. They are encouraged to jump. Non-jumpers may not ride in the pick and choose field. Communication is key in this field to avoid accidents. If you choose not to jump a fence, be sure to let the rider behind you know. If you are jumping a fence, be sure the rider in front of you is far enough away from the other side of the fence, so that you do not crowd or crash into the horse in front of you.
3.) Third Field = Flats. The third field of riders does not jump any fences and may not school over fences when hunting. The third field must keep up with the first two fields, through a combination of trotting, cantering and galloping.
4.) Fourth Field = Hilltoppers. Norfolk's hilltopper field walks and trots only. This field is a great place for green riders and horses, horses on the mend from an injury, etc. It is expected that hilltoppers will eventually move up to the flat field after a period of time in which the rider/horse becomes comfortable.
* Within each field, riders must allow the Field Master to go first, followed by members who have been awarded their "colors," then members and then guests. The most inexperienced/green riders and horses must be at the back of their respective field. Guests should ride at the end of the field, unless they have been invited to ride up front.
* It is a privilege to ride on private property. Refrain from riding on wet or seeded fields and be sure to ride only on the edge of cultivated fields.
* Ride single file on streets, so as to not block car traffic. Smile and say "thank you" to drivers.
* Respect farm animals and refrain from galloping near farm animals, to avoid upsetting them.
* If you or your horse does any damage to a landowner's property, which you cannot immediately fix, report it to one of the Masters, so they can communicate directly to the landowner.
* If you decide to change fields in either a forward or backward direction (i.e. flat to jumping, jumping to hilltopper), ask permission of your Field Master and notify the riders who traditionally ride in front of or behind your horse. Then, change fields at the next check. Do not try to change fields unless is it is an absolute emergency.
* If you decide to leave or retire from the hunt field entirely, let your Field Master know as well as those around you. Be extremely careful not to cross the line of scent when hacking back to the trailers.
* If your horse is green and inexperienced, tie a green bow in its tail that is visible to riders from a three horse distance.
* If your horse kicks, tie a red bow it its tail that is visible to riders from a three horse distance.
* Remember, you are hunting to watch and listen to the hounds work. Therefore, talking should be kept to a minimum and in hushed tones. Please don't be surprised if someone says "shhhhh" to request no talking.