What does it take to become a member Update: I think I'm hooked!
Foxhunting has been something I've wanted to do for a long time, and I was discussing this recently with my boss, and now he has me nervous that I don't stand a chance of getting in to a hunt. So rather than letting my generaly overactive imagination talk me out of wanting to foxhunt, I figured it was time to educate myself more.
Is going foxhunting, whether as a member or a guest and invitation only sort of event?
This may be a stupid question, but do hunts have an income requirement? I understand that there are membership fees and other such fees.
My boss talked about having to prove that you're capable of riding with the hunt. How does one go about doing that and whats involved/expected?
Sorry if I asked any really ridiculous questions. Thanks.
Last edited by Sacred_Petra; Nov. 28, 2012 at 08:19 PM.
So glad you asked rather than sulking away and never giving it a try because someone told you it was out of range.
Go here to find out the contact information for the hunts in your area. Your closest hunt may be in an neighboring state, so don't count yourself out until you've looked at all the possibilities. Also their are "private" and/ or "farmers" packs that aren't listed with the MFHA that you may have near by.
Once you have the hunt that you are most interested in joining, call the secretary or if not listed the MFH. These would be the persons who would best be able to describe their hunt. Some hunts will want you to go as a guest (have a nanny) for the first times, at least until you learn the ropes and a few other members.
Hunts don't have an income requirement, but they do have dues that may price you out of membership. Some are as low as $350 for a season or as much as several thousand plus active donations of time and money throughout the year. You won't know until you ask. Many have a Junior membership, a young adult membership, a regular membership and a social membership. This is just an example of what may be available.
The going as a guest or with a nanny is to ensure that you and your horse have a safe and enjoyable time. What would be expected ability wise would depend on your quarry and your terrain and what flights the hunt offers.
First Flight/field- You are comfortable riding and jumping at whatever pace the field master has set to keep up with hounds.
Second Flight/field- You are comfortable riding at whatever pace the field master sets and are comfortable jumping logs and such, generally nothing over 18"-2'
Third Flight/Hilltoppers- Generally they ride to the lowest common denominator. Walk/ trot/ maybe a bit of canter.
I would call the hunt and see if you could arrange to car follow with someone a few times and then see if its something you and your mount would enjoy.
The best option for your first hunt would be to go out on a made hunter so that you could watch and really take in the experience.
I hope that it works out for you in the near future.
Most hunts are very welcoming of new people. Some hunts have a land requirement or limited membership due to the lack of land. However, you can usually join as a subscribing member (terminology may vary) and after a few years attain full membership (voting rights, etc.).
Depending on where in Colorado you are you may not be far from a hunt. Arapahoe Hunt is in the Denver area and hunts SE of the city. Bijou Springs Hunt is east of Castle Rock. Fort Carson is further south. Woody Creek is out by Aspen.
Hunters are a very friendly crew. An enthusiastic interest in learning, a cheery disposition, and a willingness to listen carefully will take you far. We love to share the kool-aid!
Please enjoy reading the threads on the forum. Lots of us mentor and visit other hunts. The coth hunts we put together for newbie hunters are great fun. I hope you will join us!
Thank you for the informative replys! I believe the Arapahoe Hunt is closest to me, although Bijou Springs might be doable, and if the Knoxville Hunt is still active (I couldn't find a website) that might be doable as well. I definitely know where to start with my list of questions to ask the secretary now!
I know my current horse would not be up to foxhunting, however I am currently looking at selling my cow pony and finding myself an english horse, regardless of whether I ever foxhunt, as I would really like to do some pair paces and some english showing next summer.
One more question: How important is how the horse moves for a potential foxhunter? One of the horses I'm looking at is a bit short strided behind. She's comfortable to ride, well balanced, and her movement isn't heinous, she just doesn't track up. She is, however, well trained (although she could use a tune up), has foxhunted, is decently bred, and very well priced.
With our hunt you can "cap" up to three time per meet to see if you like it. This is the equivalent of riding as a guest. There is a fee, and I'm not sure but I don't think you can ride first flight (must be second or third).
I am very familiar with my local hunt (I take lessons with the huntmaster) but I am choosing to "cap" this season to see if I like it. Opening meet is November 4th - can't wait!
The hunt I'm about to join doesn't care whatsoever what you are riding as long as it can do the job. I have an Arab. There are two other Arabs. There are several stock horses. There are several draft crosses. And everything in between. If its safe, sound and has the brain for the job, ride it.
This hunt only usually has two fields. Jumpers and the...kinda non jumpers depending who the field master is (certain ones are...not strict). The jumpers take everything. The 'hilltoppers' move every bit as fast as the first flight. Yesterday was opening day, the Blessing of the Hounds and it was a FAST hunt. My guy was flat out in gears I didn't know he had at one point. It was awesome!
Some of the hunts in cowboy country even encourage the cowboys to come out with their cowponies and western tack.
We had a guest cowboy from Idaho at the coth Fall hunt weekend who rode first flight, on a super hireling former racing tb. He was amazingly light in the saddle, one of the most graceful superb horsemen that I've seen in a long time. He was jumping in a western saddle! Wow. You need to read about him, too!
Beverley can tell you tales of Red Rock Hunt. They travel to meets in many states and have hirelings and an incredible time. I want to destination hunt with them, too.
Please p.m. us and we will encourage you along the path of sin an deprivation. JSwan knows all the best Holy Marys to say, as well as the Hail Marys. Some of those are in the coth threads..
One of my best hunt horses is a former cow pony so don't dismiss yours unless you have tried it out. Now my hunt doesn't have long blistering runs and our hunts rarely exceed 3 hours due to the size limitations of our fixtures. She probably could not keep up in a hunt with wide open areas where they go at top speed for long distances. My cow pony had to adjust to going in a snaffle on contact and get used to being ridden in a two point (initially when a rider got up in two point she would immediately halt as if to ask "are you OK up there?"). After 6 months trail riding in English tack, hopping over logs etc I took her on her first hunt and she was hands down Brilliant! Never got too excited, was interested in everything, was super intelligent about tricky footing, rough creek crossings etc. she was completely cool about the hounds even when they come flying up behind her. Stands like a statue at checks, just so much fun. I only hunt her once a week as she is getting older and has some soundness issues that I manage closely, but I will say she is hands down my favorite hunt horse. There are many attributes that go into a good hunt horse, and what hunt you ride with is definitely a factor. I would find the hunt you want to join, look at what types of horses the members ride before going out and finding a new horse for hunting. Best of luck to you!
Thats interesting about the cowponies going foxhunting. For my horse foxhunting isn't an option less because she's a cowpony and more because she's a hormonal, insane, witch. It does open up my options more in what kind of horses I'm looking for, though!
I will add to saw that from the outside looking in, the stigma is that fox hunting is elitest and invite-only and I've found that this is entirely not the case. Most hunts actively try to recruit new members with "come as you are" hunts and days that are open to all no matter what tack/clothing you have. Without new members a hunt will slowly die off. I've found that fox hunters are some of the friendliest and craziest of horse folk. They will make sure that you ride safely and courteously before they allow you to join but as long as you can walk/trot/canter safely in a group you will be fine.
You can call the field secretary and ask if you may cap and let them know that you are coming and which field you think might suit you. You can switch mid-hunt if necessary. Although many will extoll the virtues of the thoroughbred as a fox hunter because of their stamina and speed I've been on only one or two hunts of an entire season of hunt days where I've needed those to keep up with the field. Steadiness, a calm demeanor, safe jump and "handiness" are far more important and you may find those in an individual of any breed. Movement doesn't matter in the aesthetic sense but you do want a horse that is comfortable for you to trot and canter on for several hours straight.
One of our members brought a guest to a hunt a week or so ago. He won a National Extreme cowboy competition a few years back. He rode (with a hard hat) in his western tack on the small, cat like gelding he won the competition on. Jumps, gallops and checks were no problem for the pair. The only time his horse slightly faltered was when we passed a herd of cows. The gelding listed over towards the cattle as if to say "okay Boss, we found the herd now, let's get to work!!".
When a hunt says "capable" they are saying if your riding skill is W/T/C in a deep sand arena and you panic if the arena gate is open, you need to develop confidence/skills riding outside the arena. Likewise, if your riding skill is to run and gun on a out of control horse becoming a danger to everyone, you need to change that style.
Off the top of my head most of our members work for regular companies or are small business owners. There is an unofficial limit to membership only because past experience has shown if membership is at "X" amount the fields are too large and the land gets damaged. My hunt is about starting out safe because the very nature of following hounds lends itself to natural disasters (low branches, holes, etc.) and we don't need man-made disasters to fuel it.
Some horses "get" hunting from day one and those are gems. Others take a few seasons to become reliable and some just cannot hunt- round peg, square hole. My current mare gave me a very good first season last year but she started out this season with a new toy in her attic that caught me off guard and landed me in the dirt. So she is in remedial class right now in the hunt field while I work to rebuild trust. There is plenty I am doing with her at home to fix the problem too.
We moved last year due to a change in job for DH. The new barn I moved my horse to is also the site of the local Hunt Club. Because we arrived late in the season, I was allowed to finish the season with the hunt at no charge, provided I joined for the following year. My mare had never hunted before (a 20 year old TB), but has shown H/J for the last 12 years. I wasn't sure she would like the trails, muck, streams, etc. She absolutely loved it the first time out and I joined for the next (this year's) season. Due to back injuries, I haven't been riding much, but hope to make it out on at least a few rides. Our hunt goes out Thursdays and Sundays. We have a first group and then the hilltoppers, who go at the speed of the slowest horse in the group and follow a less 'interesting' route. There is a capping fee of $25, but I don't believe there is a limit to how many times you can ride as a guest, as long as you are sponsored by an existing member. They offer junior memberships, social only, or full memberships (ranging from $300 - $750 for a full membership). Members are expected to provide 2 post-hunt meals per season and show up for 4-5 workdays during the summer, to help clear trails, build jumps, fix up the property, etc. There are also the fundraisers that the hunt participates in, shows that they volunteer to work at, and the annual Hunt Ball. I have met a number of wonderful people, and would highly recommend riding with a hunt several times, if possible, to see if it is really for you. My guess is you'll be hooked!
SP - I am venturing out to Arapahoe Hunt's first outing this Sunday!! Want to join me and fellow COTH memeber rosijet hilltopping?????
We can meet everyone and find out more about what it would take to join. After I expressed interest last year, Mr. Phipps (the former master) called me personally to invite me to hilltop with them this weekend. It seems that they are VERY welcoming of new members! I'm not sure if my horse will be sound enough this winter to actually ride (we are recovering from a torn muscle), but it will still be fun to see the action.
We are meeting at 10:30 at the old Lowry bombing range, 34600 East Quincy. The hounds are released at 11, and as Mr. Phipps said, they wait for no one.
where are we going, and why am I in this hand basket?
You will find Arapahoe to be very welcoming. Don't hesitate. Go for it.
Their only requirement for those trying out the sport is that you wear an approved helmet and suitable boots. As in boots with good heels on them. You can show up on your finest ranch horse and wearing your cowboy boots and chaps and so long as you meet the helmet requirement, you'll be fine. Seriously. It's in their bylaws.
They are a well turned out bunch, better than many hunts back east, but they don't get their knickers in a twist about it.
If you express half an interest in the hounds you are quite likely to get the full tour by Dr. Beeman.
And he takes great pride in never having had a blank day while carrying the horn.
PS because I didn't see your next post. Take the cowpony. Their country is well paneled but they have gates beside every fence. I've hunted my gelding there a number of times- and I have not and will not school him o/f because he just isn't built for it, but truly not a problem there.
BTW I have also hunted w/both Knoxville and Bijou Springs, as far as I know Knoxville is still going and I encourage you to simply call the master, they have a pretty relaxed schedule but it's worth the trip.