If you're keen to show willing and impress on the hunting field, take a look at these useful tips from Tessa Waugh
- You have far more of a chance of being helpful if you pay attention to what is going on around you. Stop chatting (not all day — we’re allowed a bit of fun) about last night’s party or so and so’s new horse, and look and listen.
- When you come to a closed gate and you see the field master looking around, quickly volunteer to open it. If you have to get off your horse, so much the better. It’s great for your hunting-cred — everyone will file past thanking you and thinking that you’re marvellous.
- Similarly, if you see the huntsman or master and the hounds heading in the direction of a closed gate with no-one to help him, ask the field master if you can go and open it.
- If you hunt with a pack which doesn’t have nominated gate-shutters, try and close a few gates after everyone else has gone through — and not just the nice swingy ones with the latches that you can do from your horse. Get off and do the miserable one off its hinges in a bog. With any luck, someone else will be there to hold your horse.
- Look out for any stock in the fields you are going through. If you see a herd of cattle charging towards an open gate which members of the field are exiting, position your horse between the gate and the cattle to prevent them from escaping. If any stock get out, offer to help get them back in.
- Try to get to know the farmers whose land you are crossing so that when you come across them, perhaps holding a gate open, you can smile and politely pass the time of day, rather than barging through and shouting “gate please” without giving said farmer (whose land you are on) a second glance.
- If one of your fellow field members is struggling with a piece of tack or wanting to get off for any reason, volunteer to hold their horse. Likewise, if you see the master or hunt staff getting off their horse for any reason, offer to go and hold it for them.
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- If you see a loose horse, try catching it and taking it back to its rider. It is a massive bore going back, particularly if hounds are running, but the shoe might be on the other foot another day.
- When you are on a road, be aware of any traffic that can’t get through, get out of the way quickly and send the message forward by shouting “car please”. Any communication that encourages better relations between hunting and non-hunting people is a good thing.
Don’t miss the hunting special of Horse & Hound magazine, out today (26 October 2017), with our hunting directory and a quiz to find out if you’re a ‘real hunting person’