It is true to say that more people are charmed out of wrong than are bullied into right. This certainly applies on the hunting field, where a little learning today seems to go a very long way.

While no one wants to be embarrassed or barked at, there has not been a single day’s hunting where I have not learned something new. The key, in hunting as in life, is to remember the lesson.

In any two-day-a-week hunt of 40 or 50 riders, there are perhaps no more than five whom I would describe as true foxhunters. With the increasing popularity of hunting, both by defiance and interest, a whole new generation of hunters — young and middle-aged — has appeared.

For those purists who have hung up their boots, there are more children, teenagers and professionals to take their place. This is to be both welcomed and encouraged.

Expand your knowledge

  • Helping out at the hunt kennels will enable followers of all ages to learn much more than how to chatter at a covertside about which obstacles they have jumped.
  • Seek out a knowledgeable person in the hunt and talk to them. While you can really only learn about hunting by going hunting, you can be inspired into learning by a little wisdom.
  • There are a number of good books that are great and instructive works in themselves. John Williams’s Riding to Hounds and JNP Watson’s A Concise Guide to Hunting are excellent primers.
  • Concern for others on a hunting day should be the first priority. And at the fore of this should be care for the land being crossed. Always leave things as you find them.
  • The opening and shutting of gates by riders is a big bone of contention. Shouts of “gate please” are handed back, but often I see teenage riders thinking someone else will do it. No rider should go out without a penknife and string and a willingness to do their fair share of gates in any day.
  • Anyone who is concerned that their horse may kick should wear a red ribbon on their horse’s tail and should keep to the back of the field.
  • This feature was first published in Horse & Hound (17 November, 05)

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