The focus of the riders in the field should be on the progress and conduct of the hunt while the hounds are hunting.There are proper conventions and etiquette that participants are expected to follow most of which are for the safety as well as the pleasure of all involved.
Arrive at the meet on time. A good rule of thumb is to be at the meet one-half hour before the scheduled time so that you are tacked and mounted before the hunt moves off. If you hack to the meet, do not ride through any coverts or across any country that is going to be hunted that day. Upon arrival at a fixture, park your van or trailer in a spot so as not to damage fields, lawns, trees, plantings, etc. If in doubt, ask a Master or member of the Staff. Do not muck out your vehicle or leave any other trash before leaving for the day. Always greet your host landowner, his or her family or farm manager and thank them for their generosity.
Greet your Masters with "Good morning, Master," regardless of the time of day. Introduce any guests you might have, and then locate the Field Secretary to sign waivers and pay capping fees. You must obtain permission to bring guests no later than the day before the meet, and it is your responsibility to inform your guests of proper etiquette and to ride with them.
Once you move off, be quiet. Listen for instructions and pass them on to the person behind you - don't try to yell it to the rear of the field. Generally, if you are warning of a danger, say "Ware hole" or "Ware wire," but, if you are requesting a courtesy such as allowing staff or hounds to pass, say "Staff, please" or "Hounds, please".
When the Huntsman or another staff member passes you, turn your horse's head towards them, and, if you are on a trail, get off to the side and allow them to pass. The same holds true if the field reverses.
If you see a fox, don't "Tally-ho" - that fox might not be the hunted fox, and even if it is you might scare him and turn him. Get word to your Field Master - quietly - and, after making sure the fox is safely on his way, the Field Master will signal a Whip or the Huntsman by pointing their horse's head and cap at the spot the fox was last seen and, if necessary, calling "Tally-ho."
Watch the hounds work - that's the fun part. Some of them are best in a covert; some of them are best when running a line in the open field; some of them are good with a cold line and others are great with a hot one; some of them go on their own and others need the encouragement of the Huntsman. Never "rate" (talk to) a hound or correct a hound. Never use your whip on a hound in any manner - dropping your lash to discourage a hound from going near or underneath your horse is acceptable. Keep your horses head pointed toward passing hounds. Let the hounds proceed over coops before you jump - do not ride or jump into hounds. Never, ever let your horse kick a hound. It is a sure way to draw the ire of the huntsman.
Watch the horse in front of you. Do not crowd other horses. If you cannot see the heels of the horse in front, you are too close. Be particularly careful at jumps - give the rider in front "room to fall." At a check, stand still. Horses pawing or walking about make it very difficult for the Huntsman to hear his hounds.
If your horse is green, ride to the rear of the field. If you suspect that your horse might kick, put a red ribbon in his tail. If he is a confirmed kicker, find another horse.
Keep up! If your horse is unfit or too green, you may want to join the second flight. It is unfair to the people behind you to allow large gaps to occur and eventually become detached from the main field. If you do, there is an excellent chance that you will find yourself interfering with the hounds and possibly turning the fox.
If your horse refuses a jump, go to the back of the line and try again - do not continue to school your horse at the jump and do not prevent others from taking the jump and following the hunt. If you need a lead, ask a friend to stay back to give you one.
If a field is seeded, freshly plowed, or very wet, ride on the edge. When in doubt, never cross a field, always stay on the edge. Never gallop through livestock. Slow down, go around and ride carefully and quietly. Always close a gate if you found it that way and listen carefully if you are at the back of the field so as not to close one that has been left open.
Go out of your way to greet and be generally courteous to any farmers or landowners. Remember that landowners today, unlike years ago, often do not ride to hounds, so their generosity in allowing us to ride over their land is really quite extraordinary and not to be taken for granted..
Avoid confrontations with landowners. Refer questions and issues to one of the Masters. Report any damage the hunt may have caused to a Master, and report any problems or landowner complaints to a Master immediately - get the name of the person that you are speaking to and tell them that a Master will call them. If a jump, gate, or fence is broken and no longer stock-proof, make what repairs you can and report it to a Master as quickly as possible. Never trail ride on property over which we hunt without personal permission from that landowner.
Do not block roads. Allow traffic to get past as quickly as possible. Thank all drivers that wait or slow down, giving them a smile as you do so.
Never smoke while hunting. Not only might it be objectionable to other riders, but it can be very dangerous given the often dry conditions we encounter in the autumn and winter.
If you must leave the field, ask permission of the Field Master. You will be given directions so as not to interfere in the direction the hounds are drawing or hunting. Avoid jumps where possible - larking can be dangerous on a tired horse.
At the end of the day, thank your Masters, Huntsman and Staff. Remember that the Staff has duties from well before the hunt until all hounds and horses are safely returned to the kennels, so please understand if they are unable to socialize at times.