The purpose of roading is to exercise the hounds. Typically there are some of the staff out to keep the hounds in a pack. When I've done it its been a few miles at a pretty forward walk or trot. If you're not staff but are allowed to go, not all hunts allow non-staff to road, then you are most likely to be trailing along behind. Its a good experience for a young horse.
I just went roading for the first time last week! What Elghund said. Basically, it was a brisk W/T trail ride behind the hounds and staff. No one was assigned to "babysit" us guests, so it was our responsibility to keep a good distance behind the pack while keeping pace. I'm told the exercise increases in distance and pace as they get closer to cubbing season, eventually working up to mostly trotting and cantering.
I am not a member of this hunt, but take riding lessons with the huntsman and have hunted elsewhere before. I know that some hunts have an open invitation for roading, no "capping fee", hoping you'll get hooked and join as a member. From Elg's last post, it seems like that policy is just one of many things that's different from hunt to hunt.
As the others have said - policy differs between hunts. But IF you are allowed to go it is a wonderful opportunity to experience hounds in a low-key environment for you & your horse.
I am always amazed how many people think Opening hunt is a good place to bring out their horse who has Never hunted before ! We always make roading and cubbing open to anyone, but very few take advantage of this perfect training opportunity. Staff is only concerned with the hounds, so you will need to have someone else to "babysit", but if enough interest is shown we always make sure someone is there to help any newbies.
i didn't realize it was a big deal. thought it was just like any other hunt event. then again, maybe w/ this hunt it is.
Well, here's the thing. It is in part about getting the hounds fit for hunting, but a big component is introducing the young entry to the concept of going with the pack, surrounded by horses. Prior to this- they've been broken to lead, broken to couples, walked out on foot, typically coupled to an older steady hound who can teach them the ropes and serve as an anchor, and then, puppies coupled to each other, and then, walked off couples. When roading first starts, puppies may still be in need of coupling- and it is critical that any horses present not have a wreck should they find a couple of puppies wrapped around a leg. Another consideration is that the first experiences around horses for puppies, coupled or not, need to be positive. An unlucky kick, or being stepped on, really can ruin a hound from hunting for life. And without the hounds, there's no hunting.
So, the upshot is, some hunts are maybe more open to roading than others, or they welcome company once they've gotten the pack going well on horseback. Not a case of being unfriendly- but the main purpose of roading is for the hounds.
Our hunt encourages potential members to come out for the hound exercises (we call it hound walking but there is little to no walking going on!) as it is a good way to see how a potential members horse handles moving out at speed in company and how they handle the hounds, excitement etc. Usually they are assigned as a guest of a member and that member is responsible for "babysitting" them.
Have fun Marta.
We started roading in June and started cubbing on the 14th of July. Our hunt encourages new horses and new riders to participate in roading. There is another hunt in the area who roading only with staff. For them, it's a time for staff to learn the new entry. Their subscribers and members have weekly trail rides through the summer for the people and horse education/fitness component. Both work quite well. All hunts are different.
"Hounds, gentlemen, hounds". please, not dogs. There is a whole lot of etiquette that you might have to bone up on.
I used to give the pre-hunt lecture to our Pony Clubbers, including "Good morning" and "Thank you" to the Master and Huntsman. Even if you always call him "Joe", on hunt day the good morning is "Good morning, Master."
Our hunt is very friendly and welcomes enthusism of any kind as it helps membership and will do whatever it takes to encourage that....Fraser Valley Hunt, Aldergrove, B.C.
we went roading this morning.
as i said before, the hunt held a fox hunting clinic yesterday so there were couple other newbies besides me.
horses were unloaded, everyone was mounted and they let 42(!!!!) hounds out of the trailer. i felt my mare get just a bit taller as the hounds made their way out of the trailer but she quickly decided they were just dogs and nothing to fear.
we trotted paved and gravel roads for about 2 or 3 miles. somewhere in the middle we stopped and the huntsman gave as a briefing about the hounds. we were also able to ask questions. it was a nice break since many of the horses, including my own, were breathing hard (very humid morning).
when we returned to the parking area the huntsman took the hounds into a small pond. it was such a sight to see all the hounds jumping in and out of water, rolling in the tall grass.
my mare behaved well although she was v. forward at the trot and i had to hold her back quite a bit. i will probably try a stronger bit if we go next time.
overall i had a great time. people were v. friendly, eager to answer questions, introducing themselves to new faces. afterward they had a light breakfast with beverages waiting for us.
i'm glad i went and i'm already thinking about going again on wednesday