Last summer Heythrop joint-master Nessie Lambert came round to see me and asked if I’d like to do some field mastering for the Heythrop during the coming season. I instantly answered: “Yes.” “How difficult can it be?” I thought.
I came to hunting pretty recently (the past three seasons on a regular basis). Being an event rider, my winters can be slow and bleak, with not many goals on the horizon to keep me motivated. So I started hunting mainly to sort out naughty eventers.
From the beginning, the season had a different feel for me. I was trying to take in a lot; it was not just a case of staying on the lairy four-year-old having his first day autumn hunting!
I started thinking about the position of the field and what I would do if I were field master.
Knowing the country like the back of your hand holds massive value.
But it is something you can’t do in a week. The best field masters in the country have normally hunted there all their lives. So I had a lot to catch up on.
Advice for new field masters
- Say hello to as many people as you can at the meet.
- Keep the field in contact with the hounds as much as possible.
- Know the country. Walk as much as you can and look for sneaky short cuts, big or small.
- When walking the country, get the landowner to take you round where possible, as you can then avoid going to the places where he doesn’t want you.
- Be careful around livestock; make sure you know who is gate-shutting.
- Keep off and to the edge of any newly seeded fields.
- Try and keep a smooth flow to the day.
- Have only one glass of port at the meet!
To read the full feature about field mastering and Mike’s experiences see the current issue of H&H (18 April 2013)