Everyone at some stage has had their first days hunting. They may have been 6 or 60 but the important thing is they went and did it. One of my roles within the
hunt is to promote hunting and part of that is to give newcomers the confidence to come out hunting. If you are thinking about coming out hunting your first port of call should be the Hunt
Secretary; he or she will be a mine of information and advice.
Each hunt may vary slightly but the manners and the dress of hunting have evolved over the centuries to be practical and are based on a great deal of common sense. Hunting is about having fun and, at the same time, respecting the privilege of being allowed to cross our wonderful countryside. Apart from courtesy and good manners we do not have too many rules. Turn out and behaviour are deemed as immensely important. We dress up to go out and since we are on private land as guests of the farmers and landowners, they will continue to be pleased to see us if we are polite, clean and tidy.
Owning and running a horse these days is an expensive pastime and we would not expect you to turn out in full hunting gear on your first few visits. You may not like it, your horse may not like it (most do, some a bit too much). A dark coloured hat and a tweed jacket which can be worn all through the season will suffice, although black jackets are generally worn from the opening meet (normally end of October onwards because they tend to be thicker and warmer). Someone lent me my first jacket so that I could go hunting. A pair of pale breeches and black or brown boots either full length or with half chaps are perfectly acceptable. All ladies should have their hair in a hairnet irrespective of length. Your horse should be clean and tidy and plaited at and after the opening meet.
Already the first questions are probably arising - what is Autumn Hunting? The aim of Autumn Hunting is to enter new young hounds to the pack in September and October before the Opening Meet in late October / early November. This is a good time of year to find out if your horse is suited to hunting and to introduce him to hounds. Autumn Hunting traditionally starts at dawn to avoid the heat of the day. There is no formal meet and the tradition is to dress in rat catcher (tweed jackets).
The morning normally continues for 2 or 3 hours; it is more sedate than Hunting and a chance to get to know people and to get your horse fit for hunting.
All hunting is conducted legally and within the law. The Hunting season starts in late October or early November. Hounds meet at 11am, this often confuses newcomers because this actually means the hounds leave the meet at 11am. You need to be there 30 minutes earlier to get yourself and your horse prepared and then possibly enjoy a stirrup cup. Most mounted followers travel their horses tacked up and ready to come off the trailer and ride apart from a tail bandage and sometimes traveling boots. There is nothing worse than getting somewhere and finding you haven’t got a girth or your bridle, if everything is already on your horse there is only half as much to forget!
If you are new to hunting you will already have contacted the Honorary Secretary. Please find him or her when you arrive to introduce yourself. The Blankney have a reputation for being very friendly and someone will be only too pleased to look after you for the day.
Please give some thought to where you park, lorries take preference on the hard standing with trailers parking on verges and in fields but not in gateways. Mounted followers, when arriving at the meet, should find the Masters and say good morning followed by the same courtesy to the Huntsman and Whip, they don’t bite and they are going to provide you with your day’s entertainment. Similarly a polite “good night and thank you” to the field master if at all possible when you finish never goes amiss.
On the Field
A days hunting will not, unless you are extremely fortunate, consist of jumping big hedges and galloping across grass fields. There are a variety of obstacles within the Blankney Country from ditches to hunt jumps; all are jumpable but they all have a way round. There are people that hunt all season and their horse never leaves the ground.
You may find yourself on a field headland with either the huntsman and hounds or the field master coming past you; always turn your horse’s head towards them. Even the safest horses have been known to kick a hound when surprised which is something we all want to avoid.
The entirely unique thing about hunting is that you can take part at which ever level you wish, you may want to be up the front with the field master (not in front of) or at the back with those taking it more steadily. You can finish when you have had enough, with a polite “Goodnight” to the field master if they are close.
As I have already said one of my roles is to encourage people to come out hunting. People new to hunting, if they have attended the newcomers’ evening/day they usually get their first days hunting for free. After that there is a series of tariffs (caps) that apply, depending on time of year and frequency that you intend to hunt. I can explain and supply these on request.
I won’t have answered all your questions, there will I’m sure be numerous other ones about such things as buttons and hat ribbons etc. I can thoroughly recommend
a book called: The Little Hunting Handbook “All you ever wanted to know about hunting but were afraid to ask”. All proceeds go to the Hunt Staff Benevolent Society - please contact them
on 01285 831470 for a copy.
In no other sport will you see one of the biggest landowners in the county riding down a lane chatting to a local plumber, both with a common interest in the countryside, horses and hounds. Enjoy your hunting.
If you are new to hunting or would like to visit the Blankney Hunt please do not hesitate to contact me by telephone, e-mail or the contact form below.
Mobile - 07946576020
ATES FOR YOUR DIARY
We have now finished trail hunting for the season. Please speak to the hunt secretary if you would like to join us for the new season in September 2023. By attending you are deemed to have read and accepted the disclaimer and risk assessment.
1st July 2023 - An Afternoon at the Races, Blankney Hunt
27th August 2023 - Family Dog Show, Blankney Hunt Kennels
For more information contact -
Callum on 07389 896206
Please see the Hunt Rides page for more details.