How to get started in fox hunting
Posted on 17 September 2015 by Kim
Thinking about going hunting but not sure where to start?
Hunts are always pleased to see people new to hunting in the hope that they will enjoy it every bit as much as our members. A popular misconception is that hunting is exclusive and elitist but this is not the case. A hunt is really a club of people with a common interest in horses, hounds and the countryside.
How do I find out about hunting?
Contact your local Hunt Secretary (if you don't know who runs your local Hunt, the Master of Foxhounds Association can help). Your Hunt Secretary will give you advice about which of the meets will suit you and your horse best and make sure you’re introduced to people who can "show you the ropes". Alternatively most hunts have "Newcomers Meets". These are generally listed on the Meet Card which is simply a list of all the meets throughout the season.
Foot followers are welcome too. Contact the Hunt Supporters' Club Secretary for details.
Is it expensive?
Well, it depends. It’s actually no more than a gym club membership or subscription to many other leisure activities. Details of all the different types of membership and their cost can be obtained from possibly the hunt’s website or alternatively the Hunt Secretary. You’ll be welcome to go out as a visitor paying the day rate or in hunting terms the "cap". Rates for the Newcomer’s meets are often considerably lower and there are often various concessions for local riding and Pony Club Members.
Foot followers will be asked for a small donation if they’re only attending the Meet but if you were to actually follow the hunt and spend all day with them, you’d expect to pay around £5.
How good a rider do I need to be?
Often with the advice of the Hunt Secretary, a meet to suit most levels of competence can be found. Do contact someone from the hunt as they will know which meets involve jumping and which ones require you to never leave the ground! If your level of confidence lies somewhere in between, there are meets where jumps are available if you're feeling bold but avoidable if you're not.
One word of warning though; however laid back and placid your horse is at home, he’ll probably get very strong when he's in company. Regardless of the bit you normally use on your horse, think about upgrading to a stronger bit as horses tend to get a bit livelier when hunting! They also tend to ‘grow’ a hand or two… all riders know what this feels like!!! We all know that it’s always better to have ‘extra’ brakes on hand just in case you need them rather than find you are out of control.
Aren't there strict rules of etiquette and dress?
Yes. Just like other clubs there are rules. However the hunt won’t expect you to know them in advance. Most are common sense to ensure everyone's safety. As far as dress is concerned, to start with it's enough for horse and rider to come out clean and tidy. If you get bitten by the hunting bug, that’s the time to invest in all the kit.
If you are interested in the etiquette of hunting, watch out for Kim’s blog next week which contains relevant tips for all who hunt.
If you're looking for something else to read in the meantime, check out our full library of equestrian articles. We've got loads of great tips and informative articles on all aspects of equestrianism. Enjoy!