What to Wear for Autumn Hunting
Knowing what to wear in the hunting field is a common concern for riders as they fear wearing the wrong thing! Read our guide to find out the correct hunting attire to make you feel more comfortable and confident when you're off out hunting...
Every hunt has two seasons: autumn hunting, sometimes known as cubbing, and the main season. Autumn hunting starts in early September and runs through to October. During this period, horses and hounds are conditioned and trained.
For autumn hunting, it's correct for the “Ratcatcher” to be worn. In layman’s terms, this is simply a tweed jacket. It’s possible that this term came from the attire worn by the "ratcatcher" or "terrier man". He was probably a crofter who followed the hunt across his land. When a fox went to ground, the terrier man would send his terrier into the covert to kill the fox.
Whilst it is a bit workman-like in its appearance, it is a safe option for anyone new to the sport. Strictly speaking, tweed jackets are worn before the opening meet and hunting coats or show jackets afterwards. Shires and Equetech have Ratcatcher style hunting jackets available.
Breeches or jodhpurs need to be buff, light brown or yellow, but not white. Both full seat and knee patch breeches are acceptable. In addition to the usual run-of-the-mill breeches, nowadays you can get fabulous soft shell hunting breeches that are water-resistant and windproof. These are a godsend for cold and/or wet days. Take a look at the Noble Equestrian Winter Softshell Breeches if you're after something comfortable and warm. Gel, or rather silicone, is the very latest technology to be used on breeches to help secure you in the saddle. Dublin have combined this with one of their best selling breeches to bring you the Dublin Performance Warm-It Gel Riding Tights. If you're a serial hunter who wants breeches specifically designed and made for hunting, you need Equetech's Hybrid Foxhunter Breeches.
If you really feel the cold, you can add an extra layer of warmth with a thermal breech. The Equetech Arctic Thermal Underbreeches on the left (below) are great value, come in beige so they won't show through your breeches, and have a seam-free design, which means chaffing won't be a problem. Alternatively, if chilblains are your main problem, the Equetech Thermal Stirrup Underbreeches on the right will be more suitable - they have an internal fleece panel on each thigh that protects this area from getting chilblains.
You can either wear a shirt with a collar and tie, or a shirt with a stock. Do bear in mind that on those warmer autumn days, when the temperature can get up to the high teens, you may only need a short sleeved shirt like the Shires Short Sleeve Stock Shirt on the left (below). However, long sleeved fleecy shirts like the Equetech Ladies Foxhunter Shirt are better for colder days.
Stocks and ties come in a variety of fabrics and colours. A coloured, checked or polka dot pattern is required with a tweed jacket, and is secured with a stock pin. Bear in mind that you're going to be in the hunting field, not the competition arena, so go for something plain. If you opt for a shirt with a tie, they come in a good selection of designs, so you're bound to find a suitable one.
The ratcatcher is traditionally worn with brown boots and a bowler hat, but nowadays most followers wear the same boots and safe and secure riding hat throughout the entire season.
While a skullcap is not a traditional type of velvet hunting hat, it’s the safest type to wear as it doesn't have a fixed peak like a lot of horse riding hats. Many hunts often recommend it. The best-selling Gatehouse HS1 Jockey Skull is the preferred choice of many. A plain black/brown silk or velvet cover is worn. If you wish to wear a traditional velvet hat, you’ll need to sew the ribbons up, as only Masters and Hunt staff wear their ribbons down so they can be recognised from behind.
Many adults and most children now wear body protectors. It's probably a good idea to wear yours under your jacket rather than over it as it looks so much better! One of the latest entrants to the market is the Gatehouse Superflex Sport Body Protector.
Invest in a good pair of gloves! Leather is always good for grip but not great when it rains! Treat yourself to a waterproof pair - they’ll be worth every penny! Woof Wear's Waterproof Riding Gloves are just the ticket! The technically-advanced fabric of Tredstep's Eventer Glove ensures the right amount of grip in wet conditions and makes it perfect for hunting.
Many people will carry a hunting whip. This is not essential, however they are extremely useful for holding tricky gates open!
Remember: no flowing locks. If your hair is long, it needs to be neatly tied and preferably in a hair net. A little make-up is fine but glamour pusses need not attend! Bear in mind that you may be riding through woods with low hanging branches, so it may be best to remove any long or hooped earrings if you want to keep your ears in one piece!
If you’re in any doubt whatsoever about what to wear when hunting - for example, if you can wear a navy show jacket for autumn hunting - check with the Hunt Secretary. I'm sure he or she will be very happy to help.
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