BEFORE DECIDING TO COME OUT HUNTING:
Contact the Hunt Secretary (Mrs Ali Wilson firstname.lastname@example.org ) to ask about arrangements on the day you wish to hunt and where to unbox. You will need to ask what cap (fee that is due) would be payable.
WHAT SHOULD I DO AT THE MEET:
On arrival find the Hunt Secretary and offer her your ‘cap’ rather than waiting for her to locate you. Say good morning to the Masters (correct greeting is ‘Morning Master’, even if they are your best friends!). Be punctual, it is bad manners to be late for a meet. Make sure you can hear what the Master says before moving off; it may be an important message for the day itself. If it is a hosted meet, try and find the host to thank them before leaving.
WHO SHALL I KEEP WITH:
You should keep behind the Field Master whose job it is to look after you and other riders known as ‘the Field’. There are lots of good reasons for this and it ensures that you are not in the way of either hounds, hunt staff or on a part of the Plain which is not allowed (there is a lot of army training). When hunting on farmland please listen to the instructions of the Field Master whilst riding round land that may be seeded or drilled or part of a stewardship margin.
HOW SHOULD MY HORSE BEHAVE:
If you have a horse that may kick make sure it wears a red ribbon to warn people to keep their distance. A horse with a green ribbon usually means it is young and may be unreliable, another reason to give it space. If a person puts their hand behind their back, this is to warn you that their horse feels excitable and might kick or buck. If hounds come your way make absolutely sure you face your horse’s head towards them. It is a sin to kick a hound!
The RA Hunt relies on the goodwill of Salisbury Plain Training Area to provide most of our country. We often come across military, please acknowledge them (even if it’s just a cheery wave), we enjoy the privilege of being allowed to share The Plain with them. This also applies to shoots, dog walkers and runners and is equally important when we cross a road. A thank you is not only good manners but good publicity for hunting and does not cost anything! Wherever we are it is important that all followers and supporters, whether mounted or on foot remember, that access to that country is entirely dependent on the goodwill of farmers and landowners.
RIDING AS PART OF THE FIELD:
However out of control you may feel NEVER turn a circle or cross in front of another rider. Keep your line until there is a chance break away from other people. Some of the worst accidents are caused by people crashing into each other.
WHAT SHOULD I CARRY:
You should always carry baler twine (in case you need to repair to either tack or a gate), a large handkerchief (potential bandage) and a penknife. Most people also carry a phone and some carry chocolate and their preferred tipple in a hip flask, but this is very much a personal preference!
SPECIAL RA HUNT TERMS:
You may well hear the Field Master shout ‘penning’, this is a warning to the Field that there is plain wire surrounding livestock. Often difficult to see, make sure you take care and follow where everyone else goes. Always ride well away from the fencing and go at a speed (usually a walk) that any enclosed cattle will tolerate without upsetting them, this will reduce the possibility of them breaking out. Rounding up cattle and putting up electric fencing is no fun and takes time. ‘Ware hole’ is another important message. There are plenty of holes and badger sets on The Plain so look out for them. ‘Hold hard’ from the Field Master means pull up behind him without delay.
There is only a little jumping with the RA. However, if you do break a rail make sure that you report the damage to the Field Master. Never attempt to jump if there is a hound anywhere near and always wait to give way to the huntsman, hunt staff and the Field Master. If your horse refuses, go to the back of the queue.
WHAT SHOULD I WEAR:
Ratcatcher (tweed coat & tie or coloured stock) during autumn hunting and after 1 April. Full hunting dress: black coat (gentlemen), navy or black (ladies), white or cream hunting stock, buff breeches and black boots after the Opening Meet. Hunting cap ribbons should be sewn up at the back, only Masters and hunt staff wear them down.
Be a member, apart from anything else their insurance is both low cost and comprehensive.
GATES AND ROADS:
Rare in RA country, but other hunts have nominated gate shutters for the day who ride at the end of the Field and make sure all the gates are firmly shut. When we are off Plain there are usually a few gates, please be ready either to open and shut these or wait for the person following to shout ‘gate please’ (a request to shut the gate after they are through). If we cross a road please keep up with the Field Master, there will probably be foot followers seeing us across and we will want to be as swift as possible. If we riding up the road make sure the traffic can get past by riding in single file and thank drivers as the pass.
WATCH AND LISTEN:
The more you watch hounds the more you will learn. Hunting is also about socialising but be aware that the Field Master may not always be very chatty as he is concentrating on watching the hounds work, and hearing the horn calls of the huntsman.
IF YOU WANT TO GO HOME EARLY:
Always let the Field Master know before you disappear. You are his responsibility and he or she will want to know! Equally at the end of the day it is traditional that members of the Field say ‘Goodnight’ (no matter the time of day), not only to the Masters but also to each other.
BEFORE GOING HOME:
If it is late look round to make sure that no one is left by themselves to box a horse. If there is only one person left make sure they can start their lorry. It can be pretty lonely at the end of the day on the Plain with a flat battery!
Please stick to hard tracks only at all times. This is a condition of our license for hunting on MOD land.
It is advisable to contact the Honorary Secretary (email@example.com) in advance if you are planning to car follow, particularly if you are a visitor or first-time follower.