Miami Valley Hunt Introductory Guide For Foxhunters
Part I - Organization in the Field
A. THE MASTER, or MFH, is in overall command of the
hunt and his word is final in the field and in the kennels. He
decides when and where hounds will meet, what coverts are to
be drawn, and when hounds will go home. He is responsible for
hounds showing the best possible sport under existing
conditions; and he is responsible for the hounds, the staff,
and the Field neither damaging nor annoying the landowners who
make the sport possible. He is the boss, and during his term
of office there is no higher appeal. In many hunts the duties
of the Master are divided between two Joint Masters.
B. THE HUNTSMAN controls the hounds, indicating to
them by signals where he wishes them to draw for a fox, and he
is responsible for a fox being well hunted when found. He
attempts to be sure that hounds work together as a pack by
encouraging the tail hounds and steadying the lead hounds, and
in case of a check he must be prepared to assist hounds to
recover the line by use of a cast if necessary. His technical
decisions must be quickly made, and staff and Field must abide
by them or utter chaos will ensue.
C. THE WHIPPERS-IN assist the Huntsman in
controlling hounds by turning them back to the Huntsman or by
encouraging them forward to him as necessary. Also, they are
used by the Huntsman as scouts to get notice of the movement
of a fox. No one except the Huntsman gives orders to Whippers-In.
No one except by request of the Huntsman or MFH should
accompany them or attempt to assist them.
D. THE FIELD consists of the mounted followers and
is controlled by the Field Master who rides at the head of it.
The Field Master is responsible for seeing that the Field does
not interfere with hounds in their work; and he is also
responsible for seeing that the Field avoids damage to the
landowners. The Field should be aligned behind the Master by
order of their office and by seniority of membership in the
Hunt. All Junior members shall follow behind the Senior
members. Please do not change position in the field as all
unnecessary commotion tends to distract the hounds.
E. THE SECRETARY assists the Field Master in his
job of observing and reporting the behavior of the Field,
particularly as if affects the landowners. Damaged fences
should be reported to the Secretary. "Capping Fees"
- (a set fee per hunt) must be paid to the Field Secretary
Part II - Hunting Etiquette
A. LANDOWNERS - "You have no business on a
man's land but are there by his sufferance and he is entifled
to every consideration." If you take down a rail you
should put it back. If you open a gate you should shut it. If
you break,a fence or do any damage that you cannot repair, you
should report it at once to the responsible officers of the
Hunt so it may be made good. Do not jump fences unnecessarily.
If your horse breaks a fence when hounds are running, or when
there is no other way through, it is an accident; but if you
jump a farmer's fence for fun or experience, it means to him
that you are too lazy to build a schooling course for
yourself, and the Hunt and all hunting people are blamed for
your thoughtlessness. Do not hack on private property without
the express permission of the owner. Be careful when smoking,
particularly during the dry seasons.
B. NEVER CROWD THE HUNTSMAN - Never get between the
Huntsman and the pack, and never, if you can possibly avoid
it, get between any hound and the Huntsman. The Huntsman
should be given the right of way at all times - pull your
horse well away from the passing hounds with your horse facing
C. THE WHIPPERS-IN must also be given the right of
way at all times. The sooner each gets forward to his proper
position, the surer you are of sport. Do not follow a Whipper-In
when he is sent off on a point. Never get between a Whipper-In
and the Huntsman on the road. Never ride beside a Whipper-In
for he may have to turn quickly and unexpectedly.
D. THE HOUNDS - Keep away from them at all times.
Even if you consider the hounds worthless, the Master may be
quaintly indifferent to your opinion. Remember the quietest
horse will kick at a strange dog, and the stupidest dog
distrusts a strange horse, so KEEP AWAY. NO HOUND CAN HUNT
WHILE FIGURING THE ODDS OF BEING BITTEN, KICKED, OR STEPPED
ON, and if the Field keep pressing them in any direction,
however slowly, the benighted beasts are capable of thinking
there is a rational cause for it. And KEEP AWAY FROM THE
HUNTSMAN so he may be in full view of the hounds so they can
see him and follow his movements and signals. Do not get
between the Huntsman and the Whipper-In on the road. There are
miles of road before and behind where your equestrianism will
be more appreciated.
E. COURTESY TO OTHER RIDERS - "Remember that
the most important gait in a hunter is the halt. If your horse
won't stand, teach him; if he won't learn, sell him; if he
won't sell, shoot him."..."If your horse is a
kicker, braid a red ribbon in his tail as a warning but
remember, the red ribbon does not rid you of responsibility.
If some darn fool keeps riding up on his heels, and he shows
signs of resenting it, hold his head up and warn them off. Do
not crowd against other horses or get the annoying habit of
getting slightly ahead of another horse." If you see a
hole, turn your head to the rear and say "ware hole"
in a tone just loud enough to reach the rider next behind. If
you go through a gate, the last man through is expected to
close it. YIELD THE RIGHT OF WAY AT ONCE IF YOUR HORSE REFUSES
A JUMP. Never jump so close behind another person that you
take a chance of jumping on him it he falls. These rules, of
course, are merely common sense and the people who break them
do so either through ignorance or lack of control. More
exercise for your horse and less oats may be all that is
needed. Sometimes a different bit will help.
Part III - Hounds
In speaking of hounds, there are certain ways of
speech which distinguish those who know from "them what
don't." This is so of sports generally - no sailor would
speak of a mast as a pole, although it is one. Hounds are
hounds, NOT DOGS. Hounds are counted in "couples." A
male hound is known as a "dog hound." Likewise a
female hound, no matter how exemplary, is known as a
"bitch." A hound has a "stern" instead of
a tail. When he moves same, he "feathers his stern."
A hound never barks, he "opens," "gives
tongue," or "speaks."
A.. HOUNDS IN COVERT (pronounced "cover")
- When hounds are in covert, the Huntsman will place himself
so as to best influence their movements in drawing for a fox.
You should, of course, remain with the Field Master. Never go
"ahead of the draw." If the Huntsman turns and comes
back toward you, STAND STILL with your horse facing the
hounds. When a hound finds a fox, if you are listening and not
talking, you will hear him "speak" and sense the
thrill which stops in their tracks all who hear it. The other
hounds flock to confirm the find, and the Huntsman decides
quickly whether to cheer the other hounds on or to await a
more reliable witness. Once satisfied, the Huntsman cheers the
hounds together and gives a series of short sharp blasts
called "doubling the horn" to call hounds together.
While the fox is ringing about the covert, the Whippers-In are
probably posted at spots where they can view the fox if he
leaves. Stay with the master who knows the country and will do
his utmost to keep the field in view of the sport.
B. GONE AWAY - The fox goes away and the
Whipper-In's cap goes up as he canters to the line: the
Huntsman blows a series of short and long blasts. Many a fox
has turned sharp at a fence row, proceeded a few hundred feet,
and sat watching in obvious amusement while the Field, their
eyes on the next jump and not listening for the faltering of
the cry as hounds overran, have galloped across and completely
obliterated his line and then formed a perfect barricade
against hounds and Huntsman in their attempts to cast.
Remember also that hounds are trained to react to movements of
the Huntsman's horse and that movements of other horses
distracts them, so stand sill at a check and watch what the
Huntsman does. Normally he will stand still and watch his
hounds while they make their own cast and will only interfere
after they have definitely failed. He then picks them up as
quiefly as possible and makes his cast. Let up hope that the
cast is successful and the hounds hit off the line. The
Huntsman gives a cheer and "doubles his horn" to
collect any wide ranging hounds and to warn the Field who
should be STANDING STILL behind where the hounds have checked
instead of following the Huntsman about and interfering with
It is the responsibility of the rider to keep away
from the hounds.