There are different "fields" or "flights" in hunting.
Most hunts at least have two, Jumping and Hilltopper. The Hilltopper's don't jump other than a small fallen log here and there.
Other hunts may have as many as three fields with different levels of speed and difficulty.
For example, our hunt only has two fields normally, sometimes only one. But when we host guest hunts or open hunts for newcomers we will add a third field that may be as slow as walk/trot depending on how the people in the field are doing. People are free to move between fields as long as they advise the fieldmaster of their intent.
I suggest you ask around, I'm sure you will find a hunt with a slower field you can start with.
There is also variance between clubs but usually if you call and talk to the hunt secretary they will give you a realistic answer regarding the difficulty of the fences, speed of the fields, etc. The other thing that varies between hunts is how long they stay out. If you have a horse that is out of shape this can be important. Some hunts go out for only about two hours and others can be four or five.
Set youself apart from the crowd, ride a paint horse, you're sure to be spotted
I just about guarantee that being in MD, you will have larger hunts that have several fields. First flight will be the fastest, then second. Third is generally hilltopping. Hilltopping would be a great starting point. I would recommend cartopping with an experienced follower a time or two so you can see how everything works. I don't know where you are in MD, but if you arent' too far from Middleburg, VA, I would contact the MOC Beagles. It is essentially for children, but on weekdays you only get adults schooling horses,or just out for fun. You can learn quite a bit, and the dress code is very relaxed. Most hunts host a series of trail rides over the summer to help you fit up, and then you can cub also before the season opens. If you know the territory and are riding with soemone well versed in the country and the way the hounds hunt, you can usually head for the trailer when you feel your horse is too tired. You just have to make sure you aren't going to cut across the line they are running.
From AliCat518 "Seriously, why would you NOT put fried chicken in your purse?!"
I hunt north of the Wicomico hunt, but we get together a few times a year at joint meets. In my experience, they have two fields and when I Hunted on their fixtures, jumps were optional.
Right now they are having some fun learning events. I think the next is May 1. There may be information on the website about clinics and paper chases. Wicomico has a very nice group of Masters and members and lovely hounds.