Badsworth & Bramham Moor Hounds, Etiquette
Modern Hunting & Courtesy - Advice for Newcomers & Beginners
The advice and information in this leaflet has been compiled for the Badsworth & Bramham Moor Hounds by the Mastership and Members, past and present. Thanks are expressed to all, for their contributions.
This leaflet is for all those who ride to Hounds. It is hoped you will spare the time to read it and that in so doing, appreciate the reasons and traditions behind some of the etiquette. This is applicable whether you are a Newcomer, or perhaps just need to refresh your memory if you have hunted for years. The information will enable you to behave in a safe and correct manner whilst following Hounds. Hunting is not only a sport, but also it is a tradition and, indeed, in the countryside it could be regarded as a way of life. As with any other traditions, customs have become associated with hunting, not least of these being the behaviour that is expected of the Followers. There is no need to regard hunting as something old fashioned as in fact, most of the associated traditions, etiquette and behaviour are very practical.
Traditions & Customs
The Badsworth & Bramham Moor Hounds meet by arrangement and are therefore easily recognisable and are accountable for their actions and behaviour.
Mounted and Car Followers enjoy access to extremely large areas of countryside and this privilege requires that all Followers respect the traditions and customs of the Badsworth & Bramham Moor Hounds and that of the Farmers, for who’s kind permission, Hunting would not be possible.
This leaflet covers most of the information which may be of interest, or be helpful, to the Newcomer, But, to begin, if you only have time to pay attention to just the basic customs and suggestions highlighted below, you will be a safer rider, you will enjoy your day out and you will be welcome on any Hunting Field. When you have the time, you may wish to continue reading this advice leaflet and learn more about Hunting.
1. Please be prepared to follow any and all requests and instructions from the Masters. The Masters are responsible for conducting the day’s activities and they are regulated by the Masters of Foxhound Association (MFHA).
2. When riding to hounds, their authority is absolute and their instructions should be cheerfully obeyed. Please make every effort possible to never obstruct the Masters, Huntsman or Whipper-Ins.
3. Polite, sensible behaviour is expected from all Followers. Avoid over-loud conversation. Inappropriate and offensive language is simply not acceptable. Please use common sense and be responsible if having a drink.
4. Sensible clothes and tack are required. Brightly coloured fashion statements are inappropriate for both riders and horses. Turnout should be always neat, clean and safe, hair should be neatly tied back or in a net and ties should be secured. If in doubt as to what turnout is expected, please contact the Hunt Secretary for advice.
5. Footwear should be sensible riding boots. If you have half sole boot repairs, the ridge may prevent your foot leaving the stirrup in the event of a fall.
6. Consider fitting shoe studs to prevent your horse from slipping. When riding on the road take care when turning corners, your horse may easily lose it’s footing.
7. Keep up with, but behind the Field Master. If you lose the Field Master and are unsure where you are, ride on the roads and tracks until you can catch up the Field.
8. Do not gallop away from obstacles (gates, narrow / steep place, etc.) whilst other riders are still negotiating the obstacle, just walk away quietly. Do not leave a person alone to close a gate, it is safer, easier and polite to wait and help, it may be you left alone at a gate next time.
9. If you know your horse is not a reliable jumper, please do not push to the front of the Field, refuse and then block the jump. If a jump is narrow, form an orderly queue and do not cut in. If your horse refuses, you should pull away immediately and go to the back of the queue, do not barge in ahead of your turn. Please do not set off to jump until the horse in-front has completed the jump and vacated the exit.
10. Always turn your horse to face Hounds to prevent horses kicking Hounds.
11. If your horse has a red (kick) or green (novice) ribbon, for safety, keep to the back of the Field.
12. Show consideration to other road users and remember to be polite and thank all people.
13. If you are a child or young person, please remember that it will be really appreciated if you offer to help at gates etc. You will be much more agile and can get back on your horse or pony quicker than some of the older Members.
14. Parents should never send a child hunting alone, a responsible adult must accompany the child at all times.
15. Mobile phones, whilst very useful in the event of an accident, should preferably be switched to silent mode.
16. All riders must have 3rd Party Public Liability Insurance, which includes hunting. It is expected that everyone riding out with the Badsworth & Bramham Moor Hounds and all Supporters are members of the Countryside Alliance.
17. Hollering is a habit, now best kept quietly in your heart.
If you are unsure of the expected and appropriate dress for riding with the Badsworth & Bramham Moor Hounds, the following will assist;
Dress for Autumn Hunting (before Opening Meet)
Tweed riding jacket, waistcoat, bowler hat or velvet riding cap (usually black or dark blue) or riding helmet with black velvet cover.
Shirt, collar and tie or shirt with coloured / spotted hunting tie (i.e. hunting stock), buff / beige jodhpurs / breeches. Brown or black
Dress for Hunt Season (after Opening Meet)
Black Hunt coat (ladies sometime wear dark blue), waistcoat, black bowler or black velvet cap ladies wear dark blue with the blue
coat) or riding helmet with black velvet cover. Shirt and white hunt tie (i.e. stock) buff / beige jodhpurs / breeches (ladies sometimes
wear cream / yellow). White breeches are only worn with the red coat. Black boots.
Children (at all times)
Tweed riding jackets and buff / beige jodhpurs all year.
Terminology And Explanations (Some Examples) :
1. MFH : Master of Foxhounds a traditional, historical title refers the keepers of the King’s hounds.
2. Masters, Huntsman, Whippers-in & invited Subscribers wear scarlet (red) coats. A Lady Master wears dark blue.
3. “Ware” : look out for a risk e.g. ware wire. ware hole. ware glass. ware soft going etc.
4. Covert : wooded area.
5. Couple : hounds are counted in two’s, so one couple = two hounds
6. Point : a corner of a covert or field where riders are sent by the Master to observe and report on hound activity.
7. Speak : the noise that hounds make when they pick up the scent.
8. Stern : hound’s tail.
9. Red Ribbon In A Horse’s Tail : warning that the horse may kick, please give plenty of room.
10. Green Ribbon In A Horse’s Tail : warning that the horse is young and inexperienced, please give plenty of room.
11. Blank Day : when no scent has been found.
12. Bye-Day : a day extra to the days as advertised on the Meet Card.
13. The Cap : the money that is collected at the Meet by the Secretary from visitors.
14. Field Money : the money paid to the Secretary at the Meet by Subscribers.
15. “Hounds Please” : the announcement at the Meet that the hounds are leaving the Meet and the day is about to begin all horses should be turned to face hounds.
16. “Good Night” : on leaving to go home (time of day does not matter) the accepted farewell is ‘Good Night’.
17. Whipper-In : person (s) who helps the Huntsman supervise the hounds.
18. “Hold Hard” : please slow down and be prepared to stop quickly. Also signed by riders ahead holding a hand up.
19. Crowding : riders getting too close together at a jump or gate could cause injury to horse and / or rider.
20. The Field : collective name for the mounted followers.
21. Check : hounds pause and / or stop during a run, usually to pick up a lost or poor scent.
At The Meet :
Before attending, it is expected courtesy for you to ring the Hunt Secretary to ask if you may join the Hunt for the day.
1. It is advisable to park half a mile, or so, from the Meet so as to give your horse a chance to settle down. Never park in a gate, in-front of a hunt jump or anywhere where your vehicle can be a nuisance to other Hunt Members, Farmers or the general public. Try to arrange suitable parking before you arrive, preferably the day before – the Secretary will advise.
2. On arrival at the Meet, as a matter of courtesy, one should bid “Good Morning” to the Master(s) and Huntsman.
3. Please seek out the Hunt Secretary or the person who is collecting the Field Money / Cap and pay promptly. Endeavour to have the correct money ready and available for ease of payment.
4. We are fortunate, the Badsworth and Bramham Moor Hounds have many people who like to entertain the Hunt and offer to put on Meets. Please remember to thank your host before leaving with Hounds. A ‘Thank You’ is always appreciated and only takes a moment.
5. Whilst at the Meet, the atmosphere can be rather ‘busy’ this may affect how your horse behaves. Make sure that your horse does not kick out whilst at the Meet and always keep your horses’ head pointed towards hounds. If your horse is proving difficult to handle, for safety reasons, withdraw, if possible, to the edge of the Meet away from people, horses and hounds.
6. Those who follow hounds are advised not to enquire of the Master(s) or Huntsman what the plans for the day are. The day requires a great deal of planning and at the Meet, the Master(s) and Huntsman have enough to consider. One of the joys of Hunting is the unknown adventure to come.
7. Every possible effort should be made to ensure that you are not late for the Meet. It is not only discourteous, it can cause inconvenience or annoyance. Stragglers are not only a nuisance, frequently, though unintentionally, they can get the Hunt a bad name. Remember, you are a guest on someone’s property. You should make sure that you know how long it is going to take to reach the Meet, where you can park and allow sufficient time.
The Draw :
1. It is essential that the Mounted Field stay with the Field Master and follow instructions. In working out the draw, the Master and the Huntsman have decided from where they wish to go. Their decision may be affected by the wind, or it may be that for one reason or another they have to pick up the scent in a certain direction or have access difficulties in some areas. If the Field is not kept together then riders may interfere with Hounds and prevent them working effectively or horses may cause damage to crops. Members of the field straggling around are, therefore, not only interfering with the Master’s plans, but equally they are disturbing the Hounds which are distracted by noise on all sides. In planning the day, the Master has used his knowledge of prevailing conditions, both in weather and in the surrounding countryside, to ensure that the best possible sport can be provided.
Co-operation is therefore paramount.
2. It is obviously impossible to expect people to be absolutely silent when Hounds are drawing; nevertheless, it is true that the Hound’s concentration is inevitably disturbed by a lot of noise. It can make it difficult for the Huntsman to hear. Members of the Field, therefore, should keep as quiet as possible. Unless the Master can hear what is going on, worse still if he cannot hear the Huntsman, then it is very easy for the Field to get left and miss a good run.
3. Especially at the first draw it is important to keep a horse under proper control as a fresh horse is more likely to cause a nuisance by kicking or barging into others. Always allow yourself some room from the horse in-front.
4. If the Huntsman brings Hounds towards the mounted Field, move to one side to allow them to pass, always have your horses’ head pointed towards Hounds. This avoids Hounds being kicked and injured.
5. If anyone has information that he / she thinks may be useful, it must always be given personally to a Master, and to nobody else.
6. No Member of the Field should speak to a Whipper-in or anyone who has been sent on point duty. These people are doing a job by the request of the Master or Huntsman and need to concentrate. Distracting them from their work could cause problems.
7. If invited to go on point having been given instructions on what is required, follow them.
8. Never criticise the actions of the Masters or the Staff, they are acting upon local, perhaps private information which may affect the day’s activities. If any person is not happy and disapproves of the way the day has been organised they should retire gracefully and put any comments in writing for the attention of the Hunt Secretary. The comments will then be dealt with and a response arranged.
When Hounds Have Gone Away :
Mounted Followers :
1. When Hounds go away, the Field should keep behind the Field Master who is aware what the landowners requirements and which routes should not be taken. The Field Master / Masters should always be given precedence, especially at jumps.
2. When riding to Hounds it should never be forgotten that one is following Hounds. People (‘Skirters’) who make straight off in a direction where, perhaps, they know there is a nice line of country or some easy gates are not being very helpful. If Hounds turn they can well be in the way. This may make it impossible for the Huntsman to keep the Hounds on the line and the run is spoilt for everyone. Stragglers also cause inconvenience. Many Hunts have foot followers who are happy to close gates when the Field have gone through. Their task is made very difficult if some riders are going so slowly that it is almost impossible to keep behind them.
3. Although there may be gate closers, it is nevertheless the responsibility of every member of the Field to satisfy him / herself that no gate is ever left open. When going through a gate, the Field Master may pass the call of “GATE PLEASE!” down the Field. The messages must be passed from rider to rider, down the entire Field and the last rider through must stop and ensure the gate is closed. It is not always easy in the middle of a good run to pull up either to shut a gate or wait for the person following behind to make sure that live stock does not take advantage of the open gate to pass through it. It is, essential that you do stop. Gates that are left open often cause trouble for the farmer / landowner and so creates bad feelings towards the Hunt, resulting in unnecessary work for the Masters and the Hunt Secretary.
4. The Field should not ride over crops or seeds. If you see people riding round a field in single file then you must do the same. When the call of “SINGLE FILE” or similar is issued by the Field Master this instruction must be passed down the line by everyone in turn and the instruction followed. This is necessary because the field may be sown or because the Master has knowledge to the fact that the farmer does not want the Hunt over that particular field. It is the responsibility of anyone who follows Hounds to recognise a field that is sown or that it is a new lay and thus realise that it has to be avoided.
5. Damage to fences can cause a great deal of trouble. It may, therefore, be brave but it is not very helpful if a rider puts his / her horse at a fence, particularly at rails, worst of all at a gate, knowing that his / her horse cannot jump it cleanly. Not only can stock get through a gap, but also mending fences these days is a very costly business. Such thoughtless action, therefore, can cause bad feeling between the Hunt and the farmer and between the Member of the Field and the Master. If you damage a fence live or see damage to a fence it is essential that you inform the Master as soon as possible, so that repairs can be made. On the other hand, if you approach a quite straight forward fence which can be jumped anywhere, it is irresponsible to choose to jump where there is a gap, with the likelihood of making the gap larger.
6. It is frustrating if a fence can only be jumped in one or two places, but nothing annoys other Members of the Field more than people barging in instead of waiting their turn. It is the same when the field is going through a gateway. There is no other answer than to be patient and wait your turn. If your horse refuses at a jump, then you must go back to the end of the queue and not cut in. Occasionally a narrow place is due to the Huntsman or Master removing a strand of wire. This is only done if absolutely vital and must never be done by anyone other than the Master or Huntsman who will then know exactly where it has to be replaced. Members of the Field should only carry wire clippers if they have been invited to do so.
7. If Hounds check, the likelihood is that the Field Master will be there to hold the Field back so that the Huntsman can make his cast. Should the Field Master not be there, for some reason, then it is up to the Members of the Field to hold well back. Hounds need plenty of room when they are casting. They cannot possibly concentrate on their job if mounted followers are all around them.
8. Even when Hounds are running, it is essential to give them plenty of room. Anything that detracts from their concentration will inevitably slow them down unless there is an exceptional scent. The number of good scenting days in a season is very limited; on most days Hounds need all the help that they can get. Galloping too close to them and frightening them does not help at all. In fact, Hounds that have been galloped over will frequently not wish to hunt again.
9. Do not distract The Whippers-in or Huntsman during the day, they need to concentrate on the work in hand.
10. Always thank whoever is holding a gate open or helping in any other way. Not only is it rude to gallop past, ignoring them or taking their help for granted, it may be the owner of the field you have just crossed! Obviously, it is not easy in the middle of a run, but if it is possible, stop and speak to the farmer, thank him for his hospitality. This will be much appreciated and will help to cement relationships with the farming community.
11. However much of a hurry you may be in when following Hounds, you must make every possible effort to ensure that you cause no inconvenience to the general public. This includes cars on roads, pedestrians on pavements, people on private property. Nothing gives a Hunt a bad name more quickly than thoughtless behaviour by the mounted or car followers. The Hunt has no special priority, rather it is the other way round. Neither drivers nor pedestrians expect to be made late for appointments or inconvenienced by a horde of horses either blocking or galloping along a public highway.
12. It is essential that Members of the mounted Field keep close to the Field Master at all times, stragglers can cause havoc with traffic, make it difficult to control Hounds and get the Hunt a bad name.
13. Senior members of the Badsworth & Bramham Moor Hounds will always help and assist Newcomers by answering questions and explaining what is going on during the day. If in doubt, please ask.
14. Children are always welcome at the Badsworth & Bramham Moor Hounds, but a responsible adult must accompany them. It is unrealistic and unreasonable, to expect Members of the Field to supervise children other than their own.
Car Followers :
Many people follow hounds by car, bicycle, quad bike or motorbike, all are welcome.
As with mounted followers please consider a few requests ;
1. Do not interrupt and delay the flow of ordinary traffic
2. Do not obstruct gateways, drives or hunt jumps.
3. Do not drive vehicles onto private drives, farmland unmade roads or open country unless you are sure that the permission of the farmer or landowner has been obtained. If in doubt, stay on the tarmac tracks or road.
4. Keep together as much as possible and avoid getting between the hounds and the scent and / or between the Field and the hounds, especially on narrow lanes. This will prevent possible accidental damage to your car or injury to a horse.
5. If hounds or horses are near your car, switch off the engine as car fumes mask scent and irritate hound’s noses and also, you will be able to hear more.
6. Please display your B&BMH car I.D. card clearly (obtainable at the Meet, or by subscription) it is often helpful for members of the mounted Field to be able to identify Car Followers whilst on the public highway.
Foot Follower :
Foot followers are a valued asset and are a great help during the day and at other times.
1. Please remember, if you leave the road, you become a guest on someone’s land. Please do not trespass.
2. Please do not walk between the scent and the hounds, you may spoil the run for everyone. If in doubt stand still until you can ascertain the direction the hounds will take.
3. Remain as quiet as possible, these days, hollering has to be a silent memory.
4. Please shut gates if required, your help is always appreciated. Please be ready to assist Hunt Staff by opening and closing gates, if requested. Report any damage noticed to the Master(s) or Hunt Secretary.
End Of The Day – Going Home :
1. It is not always possible, but every member of the Field should make the effort to bid the Master ‘Good Night’ and thank him / her for the day’s sport.
2. Before going home, if it is not the end of the day, a follower should always ask permission of the Master, as it could be that the route back will take you just where Hounds are planning to go and spoil the remainder of the day for the Field.
3. A horse should always be taken home or back to the box or trailer at a steady pace. Not only is it likely to be tired, but also it should arrive back properly cooled down. Even if you finish by your box it is worth just walking down the road and back to cool your horse off.
4. If riding home on the road and it is getting dark it is safest to ride in single file and on the near side of the road.
5. Never jump fences or ‘lark around’ on the way home. If, however, gates have to be opened it is essential that they should also be closed.
6. Going home one will probably pass a number of people who have not themselves been following Hounds. It is good manners to say ’Goodnight’ to them and possibly chat briefly.
7. A Day-Glo safety armband is a sensible piece of equipment, especially in the short winter days when darkness can come very quickly and maybe Hounds are several miles from the boxes when they finish.
The Badsworth & Bramham Moor Hounds and their Followers are a close knit friendly group and anyone can join in. It is open to all from 6 months to 90 + years of age.
Why do we Hunt? We’ve been doing it for almost 300 years and we do it because, we love it and live for it. All the various aspects, from the horses, the hounds working, the riding, following on foot or by car, the countryside, seeing wildlife, the fresh air, the freedom and exercise, the friendship, the excitement and colour.
Then of course, there is the very full and very active social life such as Hunt Balls, Cocktail Parties, Puppy Shows, Terrier Shows, Team Chases, Hunter Trials, Point-to-Point, Horse Trials, Breakfasts, Barbecues and Social Evenings.
There is no other riding experience quite like it! Be prepared to have the time of your life!
There have been many books written about following Hounds and there is no way that this leaflet can explain everything there is to know. It is hoped, however, that it will enable Members, Followers and Newcomers to enjoy following Hounds.
The Badsworth and Bramham Moor Country covers a large area, with a wide variety of types of terrain, from the flatlands, to Parklands and hill country, all challenging for horses, hounds and followers in different ways.
The Badsworth Bramham Moor have a first class pack of hounds, a dedicated Huntsman and Masters who work hard to provide the best of days for all. Thanks to them all, and to the farmers who allow the Hunt to cross their land.
It is always the intention of The Badsworth & Bramham Moor Hounds to hunt within the law, as defined by the Hunting Act 2004
For further information please contact the Badsworth & Bramham Moor Hounds Hunt Secretary.