Foxhunting etiquette is based on traditions that harken back hundreds of years to the very beginning of the sport. Foxhunting etiquette has evolved through the years to meet the needs of the hunt and to preserve order and safety in the modern hunting field. Wentworth Hunt asks riders to adhere to hunting rules of etiquette in order to maintain the safety and the pleasure of hunting for hounds, horses, and humans.
(Photo courtesy of WWH member Eric Schneider)
If you are trying foxhunting for the first time, we ask that you download and review: Wentworth’s Courtesies in the Field document. If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact us. Our staff and board members are happy to discuss foxhunting with you and answer any questions about Wentworth Hunt.
Our etiquette rules during the hunt are intended to ensure a safe and enjoyable ride for all members, guests and especially our beloved hounds. While riding with working hounds has particular rules, the rules for riding out with others are the same as for all equestrian sports.
Respecting Other Riders
Please be respectful of other riders. Reckless riding is dangerous to hounds, horses, and people, and is grounds for dismissal.
Experienced riders must lead the Fields. If you are gapping (or riding around) some or all jumps, please ride at the back of Second Field.
Wentworth Hunt rides in single file. You should keep a two-horse length between you and the horse in front of you at al times. Never pass another horse. Never gap a jump while another rider is jumping it. Never jump a jump while another rider is gapping it.
As in all equestrian sports, do not reprimand your horse near another horse.
If your horse may kick, tie a red ribbon to your horse’s tail and ride at the back of the Field.
Respecting Hounds and Staff
Be aware of staff and hounds. They are working and deserve your consideration and respect. Turn your horse to staff or hounds if they are near you while hunting. Please stay away from hounds and staff during the pre-hunt meeting, checks and stirrup cup. Do not talk to the hounds at any time. Only staff may talk to or give directions to the hounds.
Ride quietly at all times. Do not speak or call out while hunting as it is distracting to the hounds. You may alert the rider behind you of trail issues by quietly saying for example, “ware hole” or “ware footing”, and you may alert the rider in front of you of a passing hound or staff by quietly saying “ware hound” or “ware staff”.
Enjoy the Ride
Feel free to talk, laugh, and discuss the ride during checks and at stirrup cup.
At the end of hunt, thank your land owners without whose generosity there would be no Foxhunting. Thank your Huntsman Rachel, your Masters of Foxhounds Sue, Marilyn, and Linda, your Field Master, and your hard working Staff and Foxes. They worked long hours for your enjoyment. The Wentworth Hunt hopes that you have a great day hunting with us! Click here to learn about joining us as a guest or member!
Wentworth offers three ways to enjoy a foxhunt: First Field, Second Field, and Hilltop. Providing three fields allows riders and horses of varying abilities and experiences to join our hunt and enjoy a safe and fun ride.
If you are new to hunting, or your horse is young or green, please be sure you are able to safely walk, trot, canter and halt your horse before attending a hunt. We recommend that new riders start in Hilltop for their first hunt.
There are several times during the hunt when all fields stop together for a check of hounds, horses, and riders. If you wish to change fields, you may do so at the checks by asking your current Field Master and the Master of the field you wish to join. During the hunt, if your horse is difficult to control and you need to drop back or retire, please request permission from your Field Master. If you need an escort (as is true of many horses who do not want to leave their new friends), a member will be happy to assist you.
(Photo courtesy of Jim Mertz, Suddenly Still Photography)
First Field keeps up with the hounds and as such, the pace ranges from walk to trot, canter, and gallop. First Field riders take every fence and cover the ground at the speed of the hounds. It is incredibly exciting, and requires skill and confidence. This is where the most experienced horses and riders hunt.
Second field is next. Second Field keeps First Field in sight and is be able to see the hounds work through most of the hunt. The leader of Second Field may decide to slow the pace over questionable footing for the safety of horses and riders, but will compensate with increased pace in order to keep First Field and the hounds in sight. Riders in Second Field have the option of jumping or gapping fences. All riders should be confident in the walk, trot, canter and (occasional) gallop, and should be able to reliably adjust pace and stop (always important!).
Hilltop endeavors to keep Second Field in sight while enjoying a slower pace. Each Hilltop field is led with the capabilities of the current day’s horses and riders firmly in mind. This field is perfect for riders new to hunting, green or young horses, or riders who prefer a more leisurely hunt. Riders are expected to be able to walk and trot, with canter as an option only if all riders and horses are willing on that day. There is no jumping in Hilltop.