I grew up always wanting to be a trainer/instructor and doing schooling show hunters, riding OTTBs ect, however trying to get into hunters professionally at a level above schooling shows/ 4H without A circuit experience or connections seems impossible...
then a friend took me fox hunting! Most fun I have ever had in my life! I was hooked and even ditched my family on Thanksgiving to go hunting since my work schedule conflicted with all the other hunts.
I have heard some hunts have paid positions, and started thinking how nice it would be to drop the at times high schoolish, snobby, drama of the horse show world.
So I have been debating trying to transition from instructing/training to working with a hunt
So how does one make the transition to working for a hunt? Anyone have experience as a whipper-in?
My biggest problem is I have the typical equine industry schedule of one day off a week, and its not a day there are typically hunt activities so its hard to get experience, are hunts willing to take good riders and teach them the specifics of hunting?
You got to find a way to get out and hunt. Typically staff of a hunt are very experienced hunt people. As in many years of hunting. You start off by riding as a member of a hunt, you learn the territory, the hounds, etc. and after many years maybe you become a whipper in.
I would warn you that there are fewer paid positions in hunting than there are in the other english disciplines.
"I couldn't find my keys, so I put her in the trunk"
Agree with the fact that most whipper ins are unpaid. And a whip job goes to hunting experienced peeps. BUT....there are members who have larger barns or a string of fieldhunters they want to keep fit and need riding. Maybe you could work for them. The one thing hunt peeps have a shortage of is time to ride often nowadays. Some will pay your hunting related expenses (caps/memberships) for you to ride as a "groom" on the youngsters for example.
So get out there, meet folks, put the word out, advertise yourself and see. Hunt grooms have to get the horses ready for the owners to hunt but often there's riding involved on off days.
Just an idear!!
In addition to catch-riding, there is a definite niche for training horses and riders in their transition to hunting. Just because folks aren't showing doesn't mean they and their horses don't have a new skill set to master and routine problems to solve. There are, for example, plenty of adult riders who wish to hunt but don't have the skills (or bounce well enough any more) to train their horses how to be good hunt horses. And many (most?) riders don't have a background is riding quickly cross country in a group. Then, there are inevitable issues that arise mid-season--a horse that's gotten a bit too strong and forward, a rider who's taken a bad fall and needs an injection of confidence, etc., etc.
So, depending on how well your local hunts are already serviced by trainers, there could easily be a need for putting paid training rides on horses in hunts, riding out hunting with clients, and giving riding lessons geared toward hunt skills.
As has been mentioned, being staff (paid or unpaid) requires a lot of time actually hunting before training as staff. One needs to know the fixtures backward and forward, including how the wild animals tend to move under various conditions, how the particular huntsman works a territory, what the various sounds you'll hear mean, what the rest of the staff are (or ought to be) doing, and all about each hound, including how you should interact with it under various circumstances. That's just in general--the handful of paid staff are generally held to the highest standards, and it's certainly more of a labor of love than anyone's idea of a comfortable income.
As far as getting started, get out and hunt as much as possible, and pay attention. See if you can figure out how the jobs of the various field masters differ, how the huntsman and staff work together, what the various hound and horn calls mean, and how individual hounds work within the pack. It may take a few dozen hunts, but you'll find there's a pattern. If your have access to a hunt that doesn't charge (or charges a minimal fee) to attend hound exercise, go and help as much as possible. Network. Hunts are chronically short of volunteers, so roll up your sleeves and jump in. Once you're known to be reliable, a lot of doors should open for you.
If you are looking for a paid riding position, I'd say looking at hunts is the wrong direction. There are not many paid staff and they'd not generally start as beginners.
Are there fox-hunting targeted boarding barns near you? There are more likely to be paid jobs legging up hunt horses before the season, exercising horses during the week for owners who hunt weekends, and taking green horses out to see if they can be turned into a hunter.
Working as a groom and training/exercising horses seems like a more viable way for a beginner hunter, but good rider to get paid to hunt.