The most important thing is to be warm, dry and safe. However, there is a certain dress code attached to the hunting field, which has evolved from centuries of trial and error. It keeps everyone looking neat and tidy, which helps to maintain the good appearance of hunters when out on the road in public view; it also shows respect to our hosts, the farmers, on whose land we are riding and by whose invitation we are out.
During Autumn Hunting adults should wear Ratcatcher, ie. breeches and brown or black boots, or jodhpur boots with smart half chaps, a shirt and tie or coloured stock, a tweed hacking jacket and a hard hat.
Traditionally, from the Opening Meet (either the last Saturday in October or the first Saturday in November), adults should wear a black or dark blue (ladies only) hunt coat with white or beige breeches, black boots, spurs and a white hunting tie or stock, white or fawn gloves. Gentlemen wearing red coats wear white breeches, black boots with mahogany tops and spurs. In all cases a riding hat with dark blue or black velvet cover.
It would be sensible not to wear jewellery (such as earrings) in case they get caught and damage ears and/or get lost. Long hair should be tied back and/or kept tidy in a hair net.
However, we don't expect everyone to buy a new wardrobe for their first outing, so if you don't have the correct clothing, don't let it put you off. Just come along looking reasonably tidy and we will make you very welcome.
Horses do not need to be plaited until after the opening meet - so during autumn hunting you don't need to plait. Tack should be as plain as possible, so avoid garish saddle cloths and diamante studded tack. Boots and protection are perfectly acceptable.
If your horse is young or new to hunting, be sure to put a green ribbon in its tail. If your horse is prone to kick, ensure it wears a red ribbon and stay to the back of the field.
The simplest answer is to listen to your field master and follow their instructions. If you're new to hunting, then shadow a regular who will look after you. Try to avoid 'overtaking' other horses, particularly the master/s and keep your distance from the huntsman and hounds.
If you would prefer not to jump, then make sure you let the field master know and they will team you up with a non-jumping field master who will guide you around any fences.
Stay behind the master/s, huntsman and hounds. If you're in the field, listen out for instructions and avoid overtaking other horses. We will often have a jumping and non-jumping field and if you're new to hunting, we will ensure that someone sticks with you. If your horse is prone to kick, stay at the back of the field wherever possible.
Foot followers are just as much part of the hunt as the mounted followers. So it's important that foot followers are polite and courteous to landowners and the general public. Foot followers must avoid driving across private land unless given permission to do so, as well as blocking gateways and access to farms and fields.
It's much less about terminology and more about listening; your field master will pass instructions through the field that are repeated by each rider to those behind. Common instructions (although not strictly pronounced as written) are to: