First Time Out Guide
Terms you may hear out hunting
If you are about to come out with the Coakham Bloodhounds for the first time, here is a guide to the basic "rules", which will hopefully help you to have a safe and enjoyable day.
HORSE: Must be fit and please ensure you have sound brakes - horses love hunting and you will be galloping at certain points. In an ideal world you will have tested your horse out fox hunting to ensure that you have control.
START TIME: We always meet at 12 and move off at 12.30. Sometimes it is a reasonable ride to the meet from the point where we park the horse boxes.
DRESS: Please be smartly turned out. That normally means a black coat, black velvet covered hat, beige or white jodhpurs, long boots and a stock.
YOUR HORSE: You horse should be smartly turned out, but it is not necessary to plait.
If it is the first time out for your horse as well, you should tie a green ribbon to its tail to let everyone else know, and allow them to give you room. If you have ever seen your horse kick you must wear a red ribbon which warns everyone else to keep clear.
TEA: When the horses settled, please join the rest of the field for tea. Everyone is welcome at the hunt tea which is usually either in a house, pub or farm building. Tea is not included in the cap and donations are always appreciated.
QUESTIONS: If you have any questions on the day, you can ask either one of the Masters, in chestnut coats, or one of the people with brown collars and brass buttons, who are experienced members of the hunt and will be very happy to help.
The day is usually split into three or four hunts. If your horse is tired or you need to go home, the foot followers will be able to direct you back to the meet.
CAP: Please make yourself known to the secretary who will be collecting the cap.
ETIQUETTE: The members of the field (the riders) will be told who is the Field Master (the person to follow) for the day. You must at all times stay behind the Field Master, unless you are told to go on.
The Hunt Masters wear chestnut brown coats. If they are not the Field Master for the day, you can go past them, although it is courteous to give them priority.
The huntsman and whips have the job of ensuring that we all have a good day's hunting. The whips will often need to come back through the field to gather up stray hounds, or bring them back to the huntsman if they start hunting the wrong scent. Please always give them room to come through and turn your horse's head to face them to ensure that they do not get kicked. They should call to let you know whether they are coming through on your left or right.
You must not jump any fences unless you are hunting, in other words, unless in pursuit of the hounds. If you have a stop at a fence, get out of the way and allow others to come through. If your horse stops again, please look for a gate or another way through. If you get stuck, make your way to the nearest road and get directions from the car followers.
Please pass messages back through the field. These will normally be to shut a gate, stay on a headland (the edge) of a corn field or beware of holes or wire on the left or right. If you are told to stay on a headland you MUST stick to the very edge of the field and avoid damaging the growing crops or making a mess of wet grassland.
If you hear the shout "Hold Hard", you must pull your horse up as quickly as you can.
SAFETY: You should always keep your horses head facing the hounds. It allows the horse to see the hounds, and lessens the likelihood of your horse kicking one. As we know to our cost, a horse can kill a hound with a kick.
Allow the person jumping in front of you time to clear the fence to ensure that you do not land on them if they should fall. This is especially advisable over the larger hedges.
Always give way to the hounds, let them through if they are caught behind the field (and tell people ahead of you if a hound is trying to get past them ("Hound on your right/left").
If you see wire or holes or anything else which could be dangerous to the field coming on behind you, pass a message back through the field (usually "Ware holes/wire on the right/left").
FOOT FOLLOWERS: Please be careful if following on foot not to walk over to the jumps for a better view, as you may cross the quarry's line and throw the hounds off the scent.
Terms you may hear out hunting
Usually called at the meet and means the pack (as opposed to a single hound) is coming through. Please move out of the way and turn your horse's head to face them.
"Ware hole on the left/right"
This means that someone has spotted a rabbit hole on their left or right hand side. Pass the warning back down the field.
"Ware wire on the left/right"
This means that someone has spotted wire, and you should pass the warning back down the field.
"Hold hard" (often accompanied by a raised hand)
When you hear this you must stop your horse immediately, and quickly pass the message back behind you.
You must stay on the very edge of the field, usually to protect growing crops or wet grazing land. Please pass the warning back down the field.
This means that the last person through must shut the gate. Again you must pass the message back through the field and if you are at the back, either shut the gate, or assist the person doing so. Avoid galloping off and leaving the person shutting the gate, especially if they have dismounted, as they may end up stranded with an over excited horse.
This means that a car is trying to get through. Move over let them past.
"Hound/Whip on the left/right"
This usually means that a hound and/or whip is coming through the field behind you. If you hear this shout you should move away to the opposite side, and keep your horses head faced to the hound/whip to avoid kicking them.
This means that the field is crossing a bridge. A wet wooden bridge can be very slippery and if you hear this shout you should pull up to a walk, walk across the bridge, and make sure that the person behind you has crossed before galloping on.