If I’m honest, Boxing Day isn’t the best day to go hunting for the first time if your horse isn’t an experienced hunter. It’s usually the opposite of a relaxed, quiet day — H&H’s advice would be to introduce horses to hunting during autumn hunting in September and October. But if you are determined to go, here’s some advice to help your day go smoothly.
1. Contact the hunt secretary of the pack with whom you wish to hunt well in advance (not the day before on Christmas Day…) and find out where the meet is, where you should park, and how much the cap — the sum of money you pay to go hunting for the day — is.
2. Take a friend if possible — preferably one whose horse is used to hounds and hunting.
3. Make your horse and yourself as smart and clean as possible, but don’t worry about buying new kit unless you want to.
4. Give yourself plenty of time to do everything — there’s nothing worse than rushing, being late and making yourself tense and anxious.
5. If your horse is not used to hounds and other horses, make sure you put a red ribbon on his or her tail, and keep yourself well out of the way at the back, at least to start with. It is your responsibility to stop it kicking and yours alone.
6. Make sure you have a neckstrap — it’s an invaluable bit of kit. And we suggest a slightly stronger bit than normal – hunting is an exciting party for a horse and he or she is likely to be stronger than normal. Being run away with is no fun for you or the rest of the field!
7. Say hello! Talk to the people round you. It helps you relax and you’ll find out who is who and what is going on.
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8. If you and your horse aren’t hunting-fit, don’t stay out too long — go and have fun, but go home while you are both still enjoying yourselves. Don’t leave it until you are both exhausted, physically and mentally — that’s when accidents and injuries happen.
9. Say “Goodnight and thank you” to the field master and hunt secretary when you decide to go home.
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