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Riding Safety in the Hunt Field

When riding in the hunt field it is important to think about safety and keeping up with the field. By following these simple guidelines you will be able to enjoy the hunt experience and watch the hounds work, which is, after all, the point of foxhunting.
  • All riders must provide the Field Secretary with a current signed waiver of liability. Waivers are available in the Forms section of this Web site.

  • Ride today's horse today. Don't assume that your horse will behave the same way at each hunt. Just because your horse did well for three hours in open fields at the last hunt, doesn't mean s/he will behave the same way on wooded hilly trails.

  • Be careful where you warm up at the start of the hunt. Warm up in a contained area around the trailers; never stray away from the group. Cantering or galloping your horse in the warm up area is strongly discouraged. Let your horse stretch and get familiar with his surroundings by walking and trotting if necessary. There will be plenty of time to canter and gallop on the actual hunt. If you must canter, pick a small corner of the warm up area and be very careful about other riders' safety, as they walk, trot, or tack up their horses.

  • During warm-up, prior to the hunt, be aware of the location of the hounds and never get between the hounds and whips. As well, don't cross the line of the scent. Respecting the line of scent is imperative - a cardinal rule of hunting is to never cross the line of scent and interfere with the work of the hounds.

  • Remember you are responsible for the person behind you. Never abandon the rider behind you. Instead, be aware of the distance between horses and if the rider behind you is safe and comfortable.

  • Keep your horse two-to-three horse-lengths behind the horse you are following. Do not use the horse in front of you as a bumper to stop your horse.

  • When you stop your horse on a trail or in a field, be sure to stay behind the horse in front of you. Do not let your horse disobey you and pull up next to the horse in front of you.

  • If you feel out of control, let the person in front of you know right away, so s/he can assist you and/or determine who can help you get back to the trailers.

  • If someone falls off their horse, let the person in front of you know and immediately pass the information along to the Field Master. Two people are required to stay with the downed rider until s/he gets back on the horse. If the rider is seriously injured call for medical help/911. If the horse is loose, immediately yell "loose horse." Do not assume you can catch the loose horse if you have never caught and ponied a horse before. Rather, let an experienced horse person catch the horse.

  • Checks are designed to rest and relax the horses and hounds. Understand that not all horses can stand still to relax. If your horse relaxes better by walking in a small circle at a check, feel free to do so. Always be aware of the hounds and never come between the whips and the hounds.

  • At the conclusion of the hunt, wait for all the horses to reach the end before leaving the field and untacking your horse. Again, as throughout the day, be aware of the hounds and never come between the staff and the hounds. Be sure to be close-in when the Huntsman blows the horn and be sure to thank the Huntsman, staff and Masters. Accidents can happen even at the end of the hunt, when horses wander off and leave the pack, so remember to stay safe until you are off your horse.




photographs courtesy of Kathie Davenport & 100 Years of the Norfolk Hunt
site design by Heather Jones