First Days Hunting

Lanarkshire & Renfrewshire Foxhounds

Foxhunting - Your First Day Out

This introduction is written to help those new to hunting and to serve as a reminder of the basics to those more experienced. Since the Protection of Wild Mammals (Scotland) Act 2002 some changes have been made to the way Hunting is organised to ensure that we comply and operate within the law.

A day out watching hounds, whether mounted, on foot or in a car is still one of the best ways to enjoy the countryside.

The planning of a day's hunting requires a great deal of time and effort on the part of The Masters, Hunt Staff and other officers of the Hunt. In order that everybody has an enjoyable and safe day out the basic rules and etiquette of foxhunting are noted below along with an explanation of the reasoning behind them.

Who's Who In The Hunting Field

The Masters

Our joint Masters are the senior officers of the Hunt and normally organise the days hunting by visiting farmers and landowners to ensure the Hunt has permission to cross their land. At least one of them will be out each day and a Master will normally give a quick speech at the meet.

The Huntsman

The Huntsman carries the horn and is in control of the hounds on a hunting day. The Huntsman will have trained the hounds and looks after the Kennels. Marc Dradge is our current Huntsman and joined us in 2010.

The Whippers-in

They are assistants to the Huntsman and will help him control the hounds and ensure all the hounds keep together when moving from covert to covert.

The Field Master

Mounted followers (the field) will be managed and guided by the Field Master who will know where the field can or cannot go. Mounted followers should remain in touch with him or her and ensure any instructions are instantly obeyed. The role of Field Master may be undertaken by different people on different days and will normally, but not always be an officer of the hunt. The Field Master will always be introduced at the meet so that the field knows who is in charge of them for the day.

The Field Secretary

This is normally a member of the Hunt Committee and he/she is responsible for collecting the 'cap' which is the fee for a day's hunting, from mounted followers. Please make sure that you give your payment for the day to the Field Secretary or a member of the committee at the meet or during your day out with your name and address on the back of the cheque or in the envelope. We rely on your honesty.

The Hunt Secretary

Our Secretary's role is vital to dealing with the administration of the Hunt and provides a good source of advice and information for newcomers.

The Chairman

Our present Chairman is Mark Crichton Maitland and he is in charge of the Hunt Committee and works with the Joint Masters to run the day to day business of the Hunt.

The Guns

The guns are carefully placed to shoot any fox flushed out of covert by hounds. The guns are a crucial part of the days hunting and often have to stand for a long while at locations around the covert. If you see a gun in position, you must keep well clear of him/her, a minimum of 90 yards for safety. Always be polite and courteous to the guns and let them know if you are close by.

Mounted Followers

Planning the Day

The Lanarkshire & Renfrewshire Hounds meet at 11.30am and move off to the first draw promptly. If you are unsure of the meet venue please contact the Kennels or a Master for directions and where to unbox.

Please park away from the meet and ensure you do not block the roads to other traffic. Hacking your horse a short distance to the meet allows your horse to relax and stretch. Do not clean out your horsebox on to the tarmac where you have parked.

If your horse is inexperienced it is sensible to keep it away from other horses and hounds until hounds have moved off from the meet. Horses that kick should have a red ribbon attached to the top of their tail, inexperienced horses should have a green one. This serves to warn other riders however, the responsibility remains with you to ensure that your horse does not kick or barge other followers or hounds. If someone holds a hand up behind their back, that should suggest to you not to get too close. Try and leave at least one horse length between you and the horse or hound in front.

Dress

It is a courtesy to both the landowners on whose ground we ride and the Masters and people who have worked hard to lay on the day to be smartly turned out - both horse and rider.

Formal hunting dress Red/Black Hunt Coats for members or Black/Blue Hunt coats for subscribers may be worn. Mounted followers are asked to be suitably and safely dressed:

  • Hunt coat/ Riding Jacket, Tweed Jacket with either a tie or stock
  • Breeches with boots or jodhpurs
  • Body protectors may be worn
  • Hard hats with a properly fitted chinstrap, complying to appropriate safety standards, are necessary
  • Regular followers should carry a hunting whip with lash and thong

It is customary for opening, lawn and Boxing Day meets to plait the mane of your horse. However, horses should always be well groomed with clean tack as a courtesy to your hosts.

Children

Children should always be accompanied by a responsible adult on the first few days out.

The Meet

The Hunt relies on the generosity and hospitality of landowners who allow us to hunt across their land and often provide welcome refreshment at the beginning of the day.

It is a courtesy to thank the host and hostess and ensure that you keep your horse off their lawn and verges.

A greeting to the Master(s) and Hunt Staff is appreciated. However, the Hunt Staff will be engaged in keeping hounds under control and will not have time to have a conversation.

The day's Field Master will be introduced at the meet - ensure that you know who he/she is so that you can follow their instructions. Do not get ahead of him/her whilst hunting unless specifically instructed to do so.

The Day

If you stop at a fence please let others go in front of you before you have another try. Always let hunt staff through and keep an eye out for hounds. Horses that are unused to hounds may try and kick if they can’t see them, so please always try and turn your horse’s head towards hounds and let hounds go over a fence safely before you.

Take your turn at opening and shutting gates, we don’t like to see the same people doing it all the time and please never leave anyone on their own to shut a gate. Stay away from cattle and if cattle start to run slow down and walk. If you get left behind follow hoofprints, especially if they go round the edge of fields, which often means we are not allowed to cross that field. Leave gates as you find them, but always find out whether the gate was opened by the hunt or had been open beforehand and let others know behind you. “Gate Please” should be passed back and means that the last person through must shut the gate. On the roads please try not to hold up traffic. Go in single file and wave on traffic as long as it’s safe to do so. Shout “car please” to riders ahead so that they know that there is a car coming from behind and it should be let past.

Many of our hosts will provide hospitality in the form of a customary drink and sustenance at the meet. When we meet at a Public House we would encourage hunt followers, mounted or otherwise, to support their local landlord by paying for any refreshments taken.

If this is your first day out, or you are visiting, please seek out the Field Secretary as soon as possible and pay your cap to them. Please contact the Hunt Secretary for details of subscriptions. The daily cap for the 2011/12 season is:

  • Saturday - £50 for adults and £25 for under 16
  • Tuesday - £40 for adults and £20 for under 16

Car Followers

Car followers are most welcome and often get some of the best views of hounds and the fox. Regular car followers are frequently a great source of information for the hunt, and often lend a hand to Hunt staff and mounted followers. If you are new to following the hunt by car please remember:

  • Do not get in front of the Huntsman, Whips, fox, hounds or guns
  • Please don't leave your engine running when stationary as fumes can ruin scent
  • Don't cause an obstruction by parking vehicles on different sides of the road
  • Don't park too close to jumps
  • Help by opening and shutting gates
  • Do not park or drive on private land without permission of the landowner

Heading Home

Please remember to say "Good night and thank you" at the end of the day or when you leave. It is a courtesy plus, there is a good reason as if you are leaving before "Going Home" is blown the Master may wish you to advise you of a route home which may avoid the next draw. When leaving early please take the nearest road back to your box to avoid crossing areas which the farmers do not want horses on.

Damage

We rely on the hospitality of our local farmers and landowners and any broken fences should immediately be made stock proof and reported to the Field Master so they can be more fully repaired and made jumpable for next time. If this occurs on the way home please telephone one of the Masters so that repairs can be carried out as soon as possible. Broken fences and gates left open can cause us to be banned from that land in the future. Always carry baling twine in your pocket.

Insurance

All riders should have adequate public liability insurance before coming hunting as the hunt insurance will not cover you if your horse causes injury or damage to yourself or others.

Finally, remember hunting is fun and exciting if you are unsure about any aspect of it please ask the Joint Masters or any officers of the Hunt. They will only be too pleased to help!