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First Field Etiquette Question- Passing "higher ranked" members on runs

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  • First Field Etiquette Question- Passing "higher ranked" members on runs

    On a recent hunt, the first field was very small (about 6 of us including the MFH). For the most part we all just rode without worrying about the pecking order (which we tend to do most of the time, to be honest). A few times, I noticed two of the other members (both with colors) and one of the MFH (not leading the field that day), falling reasonably far behind on runs, and catching up at checks.

    Again, not a big deal for that day/ group. But it did get me wondering, in a larger field or more formal hunt, would a member like myself with no colors be expected to stay behind staff/ members with colors if they were falling behind, even if the field leader was drawing away? I'd like to hear how other hunts generally operate

    Now that I've got a few seasons under my belt, I am really trying this season to start understanding the finer nuances of hunting. I'd really love to start whipping, so any and all aspects of hunting I can learn, the better!
    ~Living the life I imagined~

  • #2
    My experience is that on a run the field sorts out by speed. Its not to say that stuffier members won't take umbrage. I can't say that is true of all huntsbut has been with the ones where I've been a member.

    Just pass safely and considerately. I actually find it more offensive that people on slow horses won't be considerate and let people pass through on a run.
    A person is smart. People are dumb, panicky dangerous animals and you know it.

    Comment


    • #3
      Ask permission to pass.

      Everyone is expected to keep up. Someone dropping behind may be having trouble with their horse, may be running out of horse, or may be having some sort of personal trouble. You don't want a traffic jam - it makes for accidents, crazed horses, and a Field Master wondering where in the heck everyone went.

      If you'd like to or need to pass, just ask permission. The person will probably say something like, "Please do; but just don't blow past us." Or something like that. You don't want the horses to think they're racing or having a horse panic thinking he's being left behind.

      If the person with colors is some old battleaxe - well...... I can't help you there. No one can. You're doomed.
      Brothers and sisters, I bid you beware
      Of giving your heart to a dog to tear.
      -Rudyard Kipling

      Comment


      • #4
        A follow up question, what about members who received their colors within the last few years? Are all members with colors on the same level, or do members who have had their colors for 10 plus years have seniority over those with "new" colors? Obviously I give those long time members all due respect, but if they are pokey may I ride in front of them?

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by FitToBeTied View Post
          My experience is that on a run the field sorts out by speed. Its not to say that stuffier members won't take umbrage. I can't say that is true of all huntsbut has been with the ones where I've been a member.

          Just pass safely and considerately. I actually find it more offensive that people on slow horses won't be considerate and let people pass through on a run.
          Well said. I totally agree with your second paragraph! The same can be said in golf!

          Comment


          • #6
            In response to the OP and MissMilly #4;

            As others have stated each hunt has it’s own do’s and don’t. Though here in the mid-Atlantic we are all pretty much on the same page. The way I see it the rider should know their abilities, their horse’s and their hunting expertise when making this sort of decisions.
            Especially hunting first flight. There are always some who over estimate their’s and their horse’s abilities and want to hang in a masters “pocket”. Unless they are large land owners something will usually be said. In our hunt the majority of members seem to know their pecking order and the flights seem to sort themselves out harmoniously. For those that don’t understand this and they are oblivious to the scornful looks from fellow members they may get a dressing down by a Master. But before this happens usually a fellow member, hopefully a respected friend, will sort them out.
            Colors are not handed out lightly in our hunt and you will see very few in our field. I have seen other hunts where it seems like more then half the field is scarlet. To each their own.
            Those that are, does not necessarily mean they are the best rider nor on the best horse. There can be a number of reasons and yes seniority more in the sense of their long term commitment to the hunt along with their abilities past and present. Politics also come into play IMO.
            When it comes passing, again it comes down to the hunt. When it comes to passing a member in colors the same. When in doubt in the field and you are cantering in control asking never hurts. If your horse is running strong but in control just saying “sorry” should go a long way. Acknowledging ones faux-pas either at a check or after the meet also goes a long way in restoring harmony.
            When one of the Masters drops back there may be a problem with horse, tack or something else not directly associated with the hunt, Most likely he/she may be checking out another possible covert or picking up some stray hounds that staff missed. Usually the Master will ask a couple of respected members to help out.
            Again every hunt is different when it comes down to tradition, etiquette, dress, turn out, and “rules of the road”. Don’t be afraid to ask fellow members, staff, Masters, etc.
            Of course this is all my opinion and experience in my neck of the woods.

            Comment


            • #7
              I'll be the first to admit I know nothing about hunting, but if your hunt is an organization with a command structure (ie, master hunter, secretary, treasurer, etc, etc), wouldn't there also be a keeper of traditions or similar post that you could ask the proper etiquette? I'd figure fellow members would appreciate you asking questions before hand to try and minimize any problems/issues out in the field.

              Comment


              • #8
                Good question and one that I had recently as well. I am introducing my TB to hunting and riding him in 2nd field. On the last hunt, there were a few riding in front that I know are long time members but they were on ponies and any time we started to canter they were very slow. I passed very much in control (in a wide open space) because I just assumed that was the right thing to do but then I started questioning my thinking. The field master rides a big tb so when he moves on you have to move to keep up. They were leaving a gap and my horse does not like a gap. I allowed him to slowly and respectfully close the distance.

                When we would get to a more closed in space I allowed the order to resume. I wasn't the only one who passed these people so maybe others followed me and I wasn't right
                http://www.benchmarksporthorses.com/

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by MissMilly View Post
                  A follow up question, what about members who received their colors within the last few years? Are all members with colors on the same level, or do members who have had their colors for 10 plus years have seniority over those with "new" colors? Obviously I give those long time members all due respect, but if they are pokey may I ride in front of them?
                  As far as I've ever encountered, colors are colors, no differentiation between who got them when.

                  Jlee, I'd ask the next time you go out how the hunt would like your situation handled. If a master isn't available, the field master or secretary will know.

                  And as an aside, hunting behind Lynn Lloyd at joint meets is always a hoot; she says in her opening remarks that once hounds are on a line, "It's every woman for herself out there." Makes it simple: those who can keep up, do; those who can't get to hear about the stories later.

                  I'd get peevy and reconsider the whole thing if I got stuck behind a battle-ax on a regular basis! Got spoiled whipping in & dislike being behind someone else if their pace isn't keeping up. Unless I want to be behind; which if I'm in the leisure field, I probably do. Probably a good thing I hunt out here where we've got wider spaces; you can often spread out sort of side by side rather than just play follow the leader.

                  I suppose it looks less like a field and more like a cavalry charge sometimes.
                  ~ Horse Box Lovers Clique ~

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: passing, in our hunt you are expected to request permission to pass and it is always granted, it is just a courtesy.

                    Also in our hunt colors do not equal colors....if two members have their colors, then seniority established rank order. So following the master we have rider 1 with colors and hunt member for 40 years, followed by rider 2 with colors and hunt member for 35 years and so on.... that is if they so desire, some (myself included) care more about which horses I have around me and if there are some bad actors near me, I will invite others, even if they don't have their colors, to ride ahead of me and just position myself with the people/horses around me that will give me the best chances of a pleasant ride.

                    Like all hunt matters it is a hunt by hunt thing....

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Thank you, all. I've always deferred to those with "seniority" and I will continue to do so, if only to be polite and keep the peace. I just never knew what was proper and correct. My issue arises at those times I choose to ride in 2nd flight with some of our oldest-in both senses of the word- and slowest members and whether I should wait to be offered a spot near the front even though I have colors as well. You are all correct, 1st flight sorts its self out nicely. I suppose that's another reason to be brave!

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Cold, snow/rainy day here at the farm everything got a day off which has given me time to participate further in this discussion. My comments on hunting is based on what I grew up with either directly and or around. Being from a horse-centric area of Maryland, Monkton, Elkridge-Harford Hunt which my cousin is a Master of, and was just featured in COTH, Green Spring Valley Hunt is just down the road and have hunted in Northern Va. I now live in Cheshire Hunt country (SE PA) and my wife grew up hunting with Cheshire. Taking nothing away from any hunt anywhere the areas I hale from is where it all started in this country. The first hounds having been brought to Maryland in the late 1600s and the first organized hunt in the mid 1700 in northern VA. Given the fact that our territories are very similar to those of England and Ireland our “rules and regs” along with etiquette is based on our hunting terrain and English/Irish heritage or Anglo-Saxon if you will. Most of the hunts I have been out with are not for the faint of heart nor moderate horse. Lots of big jumps, creeks, ditches, rivers, coups, walls, downed trees, long narrow winding trails through the woods, down steeps and over jumps. Lots of jumps it’s the only way to get around the various farms and properties we hunt. So for the safety of horse and rider and enjoyment of all it is important to know and understand the proper order of things. To know the abilities of ones horse and skills. We only chase fox. Which run completely different then coyote. Some eastern hunts will train their hounds for both we do not. Coyote run straight and long foxes do not they will circle back, run an erratic line, like they are “playing” with the hounds etc. So it is important that members have a reasonable understanding of the process and not cross a potential line and scatter the scent or spook a fox that the hounds have not quite caught on to yet. Good Huntsman anticipate what the fox we are on might have on his mind and manipulate the run which maybe close to where the field is following. It’ all about the chase not the kill. So it is a huge no, no to take off helter skelter. Now a visiting fox during breeding season who has come to poach the locals women will run pretty straight and true back to home country which makes for a very long run indeed. Better be on a fit and sporting horse and up for a long hack back to the trailer. Never have hunted “out west” though I did check out Arapahoe from the ground when living in Boulder and having nothing to do with horses. Other then horses and attire completely different then what I knew. To be perfectly honest it look rather boring with out all of the jumping, change of scenery and predictable run. But hope to take a hunting road trip one of these years.
                        Hope this post doesn’t come off as snobbish because it wasn’t meant to be. Anybody that puts on the kit and has a go at it is all right in my book. Just trying to explain how we see it in this neck of the woods.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Ponyclubrocks View Post
                          Re: passing, in our hunt you are expected to request permission to pass and it is always granted, it is just a courtesy.

                          Also in our hunt colors do not equal colors....if two members have their colors, then seniority established rank order. So following the master we have rider 1 with colors and hunt member for 40 years, followed by rider 2 with colors and hunt member for 35 years and so on.... that is if they so desire, some (myself included) care more about which horses I have around me and if there are some bad actors near me, I will invite others, even if they don't have their colors, to ride ahead of me and just position myself with the people/horses around me that will give me the best chances of a pleasant ride.

                          Like all hunt matters it is a hunt by hunt thing....
                          Good post nicely explained. Concise, something I have a hard time with. If I may add, all colors are not equal, some command higher respect then others. Regardless of how long they have hung in the closet or where they think their place is behind the master.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            On a recent hunt, the first field was very small (about 6 of us including the MFH). For the most part we all just rode without worrying about the pecking order (which we tend to do most of the time, to be honest). A few times, I noticed two of the other members (both with colors) and one of the MFH (not leading the field that day), falling reasonably far behind on runs, and catching up at checks.

                            Again, not a big deal for that day/ group. But it did get me wondering, in a larger field or more formal hunt, would a member like myself with no colors be expected to stay behind staff/ members with colors if they were falling behind, even if the field leader was drawing away? I'd like to hear how other hunts generally operate

                            Now that I've got a few seasons under my belt, I am really trying this season to start understanding the finer nuances of hunting. I'd really love to start whipping, so any and all aspects of hunting I can learn, the better!
                            I whipped in for many years (15 from my 20+ years of hunting), and got my education from several outstanding Masters and three really brilliant Huntsman. It made the whole sport a true joy.

                            To answer your questions in a nutshell:

                            When the hounds are running, your job is to keep up, even if that means passing a slower rider. Be absolutely sure the rider ahead is in danger of losing the rest of the field (if the front of the field is disappearing over the ridge of the next hill, that is your clue) before you put pedal to metal, colors notwithstanding. If you are within range of hearing, simply tell the rider in front you are passing. Most times the speed of the hounds will prevent speech, and you just need to give the rider losing ground in front a wide enough berth to pass - generally waiting until you hit a wide field before you take off. Don't outrace anyone to a fence - just wait your turn and make your move when you safely can.

                            When the hounds check, you can assume your place in the field behind those wearing colors.

                            Regarding those with colors - members with colors know who the older members with colors are, who are honored guests, and who have the right of riding in the Master's pocket. If you don't have your colors, just don't worry about anyone with colors other than to stay respective behind them. They have their own pecking order.

                            Pokey Old Colors - If the Field is hacking along, you don't pass. You don't pass when the Field is trotting - as long as the POC still has the Field in view. You absolutely must ask if you want to pass, but only do so if the POC is falling seriously behind. Ask politely and nicely, and wait until you have room to pass at a nice trot, and THANK THEM as you go past. When the hounds check, move back behind the colors. If the hounds are screaming on a run, then hunting rules dictate you keep up so that the Field is not strung out. Masters (and landowners) tend to get upset at that when it happens. When the hounds check, move back behind the colors.

                            Regarding Staff - The only staff that is in the Field is the Master, which you don't pass. If a Whipper-in joins the Field, they always have right-of-way. They rarely stay with the Field unless they are trying to catch up to the hounds, but Don't pass them unless they tell you it's OK. They are working hard, and always need to be at the Huntsman's beck and call, while you are merely observing. You never interfere, or get in their way intentionally.

                            I think you'd enjoy whipping-in if you enjoy being on your own, and your horse also likes "being out there away from the maddening crowd", jumps well on it's own, and can last all day. Learn the names of all the hounds...and the Huntsman will love you forever.

                            Comment

                            • Original Poster

                              #15
                              THANK YOU to the very thoughtful and knowledgeable replies; I learned MUCH more than I was expecting to and I really appreciate it!

                              Based on what I've learned, I've realized... the only solution is for me to get my colors pronto!, because my horse and I like to ride bold and fast and trotting meekly along in the back isn't where we want to be, especially in first field!


                              In all seriousness, our hunt members in all fields and staff are fantastic- the first field is very fast and I'm thrilled to be part of it. But I am happy to understand other systems in other hunts.

                              Gumtree- I used to live in Bucks County and cubbed once with Cheshire 5 or 6 years ago. One of my good girlfriends hunts (or maybe used to hunt- not sure if she currently is) regularly with them. However, I didn't start hunting in earnest until I moved to CA. It will be interesting to compare hunt styles once I move back East in a few years.
                              ~Living the life I imagined~

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Snobbington Hunt etiquette is a bit different!!

                                We in the Snobbington Hunt take our "seniority" very seriously. At the stirrup cup, the hon sec issues number pinnies to wear that clearly defines our status/seniority so the MFH is #1, the battle axes w/colors are #2 + etc. , and the other battle axes stay behind the children passing the flask around and getting loud!! One is expected to stay in line by your number. If someone tries to pass you; be sure to swerve to block them....that'll learn 'em! Failure to honor the # system can result in death & dismemberment....or worse....the dreaded battle axe stare/glare/look....certain to raise fear in newbies & those without colors. And it scares your horse! The REAL key to their powers.
                                Be forewarned! It's hell out there!!

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Since I am pretty new to the whole protocol and got in a similar situation, I want to know what I should have done in a recent scenario at my hunt.

                                  I was hunting second flight with a joint meet on our territory, but at a venue I've never been to before. I do not have colors and was trying to stay at the back of the flight. We found ourselves at one point in a very narrow trappy area and there were two members with colors from our hunt in front of me just behind the second field master and several members with colors from the other hunt behind me. One of the people in front of me fell off. The other member stopped to help her and the rest of us were kind of stuck behind them. They told us to try to pass them, and i did, but at that point so much time had passed that I did not know which way the field master had gone. I muddled on trying to find the trail, but we had lost the master. Eventually, one of the members from the other hunt could hear which way the hounds went, and we finally caught up with the group at a check.

                                  Anyway, hope you followed that. I felt very uncomfortable trying to lead members from another hunt with more experience than I had back to the field.
                                  Should I have asked them to please lead? Like I said, i was trying to stay at the back of second flight in the first place, but we got all spread out in the woods.

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    This is all very interesting reading for me. Here in NZ there are no first or second flights, nor a designated "hill toppers", although there is invariably a group who do that. However riders drift in and out of that group (sometimes there may be several small groups dotted around, depending on the lie of the country).

                                    The only person (apart from Huntsman and whippers-in) with any "right of way" is the Master, everyone else is on an even footing. Anyone is welcome to ride right behind the Master, people simply observe the usual courtesies of not getting the the way of another rider. During the course of the day one may see many different riders chatting with the Master, including sometimes junior members.

                                    It probably helps that here in NZ there is very little country that requires riding in single file, it's almost all open country where the field can ride very spread out so it's easy to pass someone without having to ask them. Of course we still take a wide berth if doing this so as not to crowd, if possible.

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      To ridingagain - Glad it turned out OK for you. Your scenario seemed to have put you between a rock and a hard place. The best thing you can do now is talk to your Field Master, and ask their advice. They may (probably) tell you that if you don't know where you are, or where the Field is, to get to the top of a hill and listen for the hounds. Once you hear them, pay close attention to the volume of sound - you need to know if they are coming towards you, or going away.

                                      If they are coming towards you, just remain where you are. You don't want to risk turning the game by trying to head towards the hounds as the game is on the run. Changes are (if you are hunting fox) the hounds will circle back to you, and you won't have hindered or blundered into or onto the oncoming hunt.

                                      If the hounds are moving away, get going as fast as you can to catch up. Get up on the top of any rise to get a better vantage point, and to hear better. Your horse will probably be a good "pointer" to show you which way the hounds are moving (horses have better hearing than we do), or where the Field has gone before you (the lingering scent of other horses). Trust your horse and give it its head, cluck, and say "Find them, Buddy!". The horse will understand what you want, and should orient itself to follow the scent of the herd and to catch up.

                                      If you become irrevocably lost, see if you can find a road that will help guide you back to the meet.

                                      You don't ask visiting members to lead a lost field - especially if they have less idea than you of the lay of the territory. Their expertise is knowing their home territory, and I'm sure they would probably have felt more uncomfortable that you in leading a lost field! So don't sweat it. You did fine. The more you hunt, and the more you experience your different fixtures and learn the landmarks, the more at ease you'll feel later on down the road when this happens again (which it will certainly do! ) and you once again find yourself leading a lost field.

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        I have had my colours for centuries (I don't hunt these days), but what used to get my old English dander up was a newbie hurtling past, catching up with the pack, deeking in front of us for the jump, and feeling quite good about their lack of knowledge or manners. Worse yet when that horse stops and causes a pile up behind....like a traffic jam on a freeway.

                                        Some horses are not so good about being passed at speed, some riders like to keep a decent distance from the Field Master. We have found that quite a lot of people come to the hunt without steeping themselves in basic etiqueete, and although our hunt is very friendly and fairly casual, there are limits.
                                        In general, we love new people out, as long as they understand the game.
                                        Proud member of People Who Hate to Kill Wildlife clique

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