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Attire Question - Help me not look like a fool!

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    Attire Question - Help me not look like a fool!

    So I have started hunting my show hunter a little bit this season. I have never hunted before, but he seems to love it, and he gets a lot of compliments on being a nice boy. We've gone out third and second field and I love it too!

    Now, I have some attire questions. I know I can (and probably should) ask the hunt master, but I'm enough of a millennial that I'd rather turn to the internet

    I understand cubbing attire, but what is Ratcatcher? Isn't it the same thing? Also, I have a brown hunt coat, not a true tweed, is this ok? I'm not tiny, so finding used stuff is hard, and I don't have a ton of money to drop on a new one.

    The etiquette guide they gave me outlines what to wear for cubbing and for formal season, then it says ratcatcher is always appropriate. That's what has me confused!

    For formal season, is a wool black hunt coat OK? What about dark grey? I have a heavy dark grey hunt coat, but unsure if that's acceptable.

    I know dress boots are proper, I only have field boots, and they seem OK with that.

    Thanks for the pointers! I love it so far!!

    In my hunt, cubbing attire and Ratcatcher are the same thing and Ratcatcher is never appropriate during formal season--though I know that many other hunts allow it on weekdays during formal season.

    Again, in my hunt, a formal coat is BLACK (though you can get away with navy in your first season). Grey would not be ok during our formal season, but would be fine during informal/cubbing. Your brown coat would be okay for cubbing, but also not for formal.

    And, again, in my hunt, you could get away with field boots all the time in your first season, but by the second one, they expect you to be trying to be correct.

    Are you sensing a theme? Things can and do vary from hunt-to-hunt. You really will do best in yours by asking a master or someone from the field who has their colors. If you want dispensation to veer off course, as it were, you should definitely ask a master. For example, this year I cubbed in my schooling boots which are brown, but are also polo boots--because I broke my leg last year and they were the only boots that fit me at the time--but i asked if it was ok, first! If your grey coat is the only one that fits/will keep you warm, etc...ask if you can wear it. Most hunts want to be accommodating to new members/cappers--it's how they swell the ranks.


      Best place to get an overall understanding AND it's on the internet, is the MFHA. There you would find that grey is entirely suitable, as is navy or black for formal attire. But also, each hunt is a tad bit different. Best thing, after reading Introduction to Foxhunting (2013) 4th Edition - PDF Download at

      would be to speak to your particular club's Masters or Honorary Secretary.
      One thing you can give and still keep is your word.


        I can only add a couple of things to the last post (because while MFHA is correct, each hunt IS a little different).

        One is that some hunts have a facebook page and/or website and/or member(s) who take pictures that you could check to see what is normally worn at that hunt.

        Another is that a lot of hunt attire can be repurposed, second hand, or made by someone with basic sewing skills. For example, for now you could buy a used tweed or houndstooth pattern sport coat in earth tones with 3 buttons and a back vent (check thrift shops and ebay) for cubbing season and wearing at teas during formal season. Mine is a men's sport coat I got for 20 bucks and had tailored. Stock tie fabric (basic cotton) is often on sale very cheaply at fabric stores, and they have stock tie pins for a couple bucks under the name 'blanket pins'. Four-fold stock ties are literally a long rectangle that you iron. Button down dress shirts are also a few bucks at thrift stores--muted colors for fall, white for formal. As you get more involved, you can keep an eye out and upgrade to things you like better or that fit better, but in your first year or three there are a lot of things you can do to pass muster without spending a fortune.


          It depends on your hunt and where you are. Ratcatcher is, personally my favorite! We wear ratcatcher durring the week after opening hunt. Frankly it is just too hot durring cubbing.
          When I first started hunting 28 years ago I got a thrift store tweed men's jacket for $5 and wore that and it was not fitted but fine. Brown or gray is fine too. You can wear a button down shirt and men's tie with it. My best tweed hunting coat and frock were second hand and far sturdier than the one I got for a gajillion dollars.
          Navy is fine in our hunt with a navy cap for formal hunting. And lots of guests hunt in ratcatcher for formal, especially the Brits and Irish. We don't care about field boots either. The most important thing is that your horse, tack and attire are clean, groomed and repaired. Okay my pet peeve is loose hair or long ponytails. Hair net please!


            So much wonderful, accurate advise. I am sure OP will follow it and blend in seamlessly. Not all people with an interest in fox hunting are as considerate. Our hunt had one short duration hunter (never became a member) who despite all polite admonishments insisted on wearing a rainbow colored snood under her helmet (but highly visible) and pajama bottoms over her boots and breeches to "keep them clean" on the hunt field. And most recently, a young (29) year old woman who rode on my membership using one of my horses and planned to join -- and somehow thinking I was going to provide horse gratis and in perpetuity --emailed me with items she'd found "to wear on the field," that included a purple velvet "hunt coat." I did as other here, referred her to the various "what to wear while hunting references" and made my suggestion of a black coat as that would always be correct. Her response (and remember she'd been out with the club twice) was --"black is so boring, I thought this would add color." I think she was the first "snowflake" I met -didn't understand the definition until then. After our second hunt together (on my membership and using my horse) she asked if her husband could ride out with her on my horse (guess she thought I'd just haul over and sit in the club house while they rode out together) --I said no. She said he could ride; he'd told her he'd ridden a pony when he was at his grandpa's house. She was serious. She wanted me to put a (large) adult man, on my hunter and turn him loose on the hunt field because he'd ridden a pony once. I said no. Then she began to make plans to hunt with me the following week. I said, no. And CLOTH has taught me NO is a complete sentence.


              Original Poster

              Thank you all for your thoughtful responses. I am blessed to be part of a very welcoming hunt, and they are fine with my brown hunt coat until formal season. I'll keep checking thrift stores and used tack stores, but it can be hard to find stuff when you're not a normal (skinny) rider size

              As far as the hair net goes, I have shown hunters for 25 years, I don't get on a horse without a hairnet!!

              I do sew, so I've made myself a few stock ties for cubbing season (I already had white.) Thinking about attempting a melton coat at some point, but haven't gotten my nerve yet!


                I sew and have sewn the classic hunt coat using Gaberdine. I used the Jean Hardy Pattern, but I prefer Suitability. A couple of suggestions --make it an entire size bigger than you think you'll need. You can always layer under it that way. Secondly, not sure where you are located, but my medium and heavy coats (I also have a lightweight) are lined with wool, lighter, like a flannel. Third, make your lining first. That way, you can practice everything and check for fit before cutting into the Melton. Wool is a wonderful fabric to sew --so forgiving! The hardest part about the hunt coat (other than the damn pockets (hate those) is the collar --but both the pockets and collar are well covered with excellent videos on YouTube. Last, if you get it done, and hate it --you can sell it on Ebay for most likely what you have in it for fabric --just be honest --" Homemade Hunt Coat" first attempt by someone not a tailor. Suitable for fox hunting when a perfect coat isn't required." --Someone will buy it for a kid or as an extra to keep in the trailer. I just made a Shadbelly in February --but I used not-wool --I thought I'd make one for practice, but it came out so well, I put buttons on it and am wearing it Sunday at the Blessing. That is an option --make one out of cheaper fabric first --


                  Good for you being able to sew! I even hate sewing buttons back on. I concur with others here that eBay and second hand stores are a great place to pick up a tweed coat or even a hunt coat for less than new. And if you need a bigger size, look at men's coats. You'll get plenty of room in the arms and shoulders (often missing in women's coats) and you can have the waist taken in if need be.