A Hunting Day
Visitors & Newcomers
Visitors and those new to hunting are always welcome at the Kimblewick Hunt with prior permission from the Secretaries (see the Contacts page). We aim to be inclusive and the Secretaries will gladly recommend particular meets for any rider unfamiliar with our Hunt country, whether you want to find a good jumping day, have a slow day in the woods, a short day or a day that avoids jumping altogether. Remember that anyone can come hunting: you don’t need a special horse to have some fun, although a well-mannered and fit horse will always increase your and his enjoyment.
Equally, if you wish to come on foot, the Secretaries will be happy to recommend a good viewing day or, for the fitter foot follower, a good running day!
If you have never been hunting before, please telephone our Hunt Secretary and ask them where and when the meets are, and where you should park. If you would like someone to look after you on your first time out, make sure you ask the Secretary in advance and he or she will find someone experienced and friendly to look after you. Do give the Secretary as much information about your and your horse’s abilities as you can and tell him or her whether you wish to jump. However, don’t worry if you are faced with an unexpected jump on the day – there is always someone who knows a non-jumping way round something that looks too fearsome, and there is absolutely no shame in asking the non-jumpers if you may follow them for a while: everyone you will ever meet on the hunting field has done that at some point in their lives!
The most important thing to remember is that you have come out to have FUN and everyone involved wants nothing more than for you to go home with a big smile on your face.
Newcomers are, of course, welcome throughout the hunting season by arrangement with the Secretaries but special Newcomers’ Days are sometimes arranged during the season by the Masters. These are meets where newcomers are made especially welcome and they may be held in less challenging country. Regular hunters and subscribers are strongly encouraged to bring a newcomer on these special days and express permission from the Secretaries is not required. We do ask, however, that newcomers are escorted by or are kept under the eye of a competent hunter so that they gain the maximum enjoyment from their day out.
At the meet
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If you are driving to the meet, you should always arrive in plenty of time and park and unload where you are directed to. If no one tells you where to park, pick somewhere that won’t be in the way of people arriving after you, or other traffic. Remember that some lorries can be very large and that people who arrive late can be in a terrible hurry. If you are hacking to the Meet, ride there quietly so as not to tire your horse, especially if he is not hunting fit.
At many Meets you will be offered a drink by the hosts, and you may also be offered something to eat. Be polite to everyone, whether mounted or on foot. As well as other riders there are often a crowd of foot followers at the Meet, often all together in an enclosed space: if you have not been hunting before or you don’t know how your horse will behave, try to stay on the outside of the crowd in case he gets excited. If there is enough room, you may take your horse to see hounds but do ask the Huntsman before you approach them.
Don’t wait for the Hunt Secretary to come and introduce him or herself – ask someone who the Secretary is, and go over with an introduction and your Cap (the payment every rider makes, either by subscription or on a daily basis). If it is your first time out, hopefully you have already asked the Secretary on the phone to find you a 'hunting buddy', so now is the time to remind him or her and ask to be introduced to your escort for the day. After a little while, one of the Masters will usually make a short announcement thanking the hosts and confirming who the day’s Field Master (the person who will lead the riders across the country) is and, more importantly, telling the Field (the riders) of any local restrictions, such as keeping off grass headlands or not riding over newly seeded fields, so do listen carefully.
After that, you will hear ‘Hounds, please!’. This is the signal for the crowd to part to allow hounds through and the Huntsman will gather his hounds together and leave the Meet. The Master leaves next, followed by the Field Master, then the rest of the Field. Watch out for horses with red (kickers) or green (young or inexperienced) ribbons in their tails and remember to give them as much room as possible. If your horse wears a ribbon please remember it is your responsibility to keep your horse out of trouble, not that of other riders to avoid you.
During the day
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The Huntsman will take hounds and start to draw for the line. The line will have been pre-laid and will have been especially prepared to mimic fox hunting as closely as possible. If this is your first time hunting, you should follow your escort’s instructions carefully and you should definitely not ride in front of the Field Master. In fact, until you have seen how your horse behaves you should stay near the back of the Field. You must always give way to the Huntsman or the Whipper-In and, if hounds come towards you at any point, you should turn your horse’s head towards them so your horse can’t kick as hounds are very vulnerable.
Please make sure that you pass back any messages that come through the Field to other riders. ‘Gate please’ means that the last person to go through the gate must shut it. ‘Hole on the right’ or ‘Wire on the left’ etc warns others of a potential hazard. If you demolish a fence during the day, you must make sure that you tell one of the Masters, the Secretary or the Field Master as soon as possible. Do not leave a broken fence or gate unattended if there is any likelihood of stock (animals) escaping. Hunts are totally dependent on the goodwill of our farmers, so it is essential that stock is not let out and that any breakages are mended swiftly.
Once hounds find the line, you will have a run. This may be just a few minutes or it may be much longer, but it is an electrifying experience. The cry of hounds is a glorious sound and the scramble to keep up is hugely exciting – there is nothing quite like it. At the end of the run, there will normally be a check while any hounds that have got left behind catch up. The Whipper-In will count hounds and may go and look for them if there are any missing, and the Huntsman will blow his horn for them as well. If you have been left behind, this may also give you an idea of where the hunt has got to.
At the end of the day
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At the end of the day, the Huntsman will blow (his horn) for home, collect the hounds and everyone will hack back to their horseboxes or home. If you don’t know the area and you know you want to finish before the end of the day, it is worth asking around at the Meet to find out who is local and knows their way around so that when the time comes you can follow them back to the Meet. If you do decide to finish before the Huntsman, please ensure you tell an adult, ideally the Master, the Secretary or the Field Master, that you are leaving: traditionally you should say ‘Goodnight’, even if it’s only midday! Return by road or bridleway as best as possible and not through fields or across ground previously crossed.
Finally, do remember at all times that our hunting is a unique privilege that depends on the goodwill of our farmers and landowners, and the good behaviour of everyone who goes hunting. We hope you and your horse will finish your day tired but happy, with a desire to come back and see your new friends again as soon as possible! We shall certainly be delighted to see you again.