Have you ever wanted to spread your hunting wings, but not quite had the nerve? Now is the time. Bite the bullet, follow our advice and Just Get On With It. As with most things in life, preparation is key.
Research your pack. Think about the kind of country you’d like to experience – grass, arable, moorland, woodland – and how far you are prepared to travel.
Work out which day of the week you would like to go and what sort of a day you want. Do the pack you choose have their “big” days on Saturdays or during the week?
Be honest with yourself about how much you want to jump. Are you keen to push your boundaries, whatever they are?
If you can, take a friend with you. It’s more fun to go with someone – it makes the journey seem shorter, too, and stops butterflies building up too much in your stomach. But don’t ever be put off going on your own. You always find someone to talk to and you often meet more people when you are on your own than when you go in a pair or a group.
Find the hunt secretary’s name and number and phone in advance. Ask plenty of questions: exactly where to park, what time the meet is, are you parking at the meet or should you allow time to hack on, how much the cap is.
Pack more kit than you strictly need – spare reins/stirrup leather (you can utilise the latter as a neckstrap), another pair of gloves, feed and water for you and your horse. Even if eating is the last thing you feel like doing when you set off from home, you’ll be starving on the way back!
Set off in plenty of time to allow for delays. It’s much better to be half an hour early than to screech up 15min late, panicking, apologising and still tying your stock.
On arrival at the meet, find the hunt secretary, introduce yourself and hand over your cap.
Bring a hipflask and be generous with it! It’s a great ice-breaker.
Stay with the field master at all times, unless you are asked to do otherwise – or have arranged with the secretary to go round with a particular person who knows their way, or you could end up somewhere that the hunt really doesn’t want you to be.
Avoid getting lost in strange country by using the ‘track my ride’ feature on the free Stable Mate smartphone app. Start ‘track my ride’ before you leave your box and you will always be able to find your way back.
If you head for home before hounds do, make sure you find the secretary/field master/both to say “good night” and tell them you are going home – and to say thank you. And it never hurts to write the secretary a thank you letter. Few people bother, but it is always appreciated.
To read the full feature about visiting other hunts read 20 September issue of H&H
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