I'd like to start hunting but don't know who to ask or what to do?
If you don't know anyone connected with the hunt then the best person to call is one of the Joint Hunt Secretaries. They will be happy to chat with you about what you need to do.
I am not sure if my horse will take to hunting. How do I find out?
Horses often behave differently when in a group and are generally more excitable. If you have been on fun rides or similar with lots of other horses, and your horse has behaved well then you should be okay.
I know my horse won't take to hunting so can I hire a horse?
Yes you can and hiring a "seasoned hunter" can be a great way of enjoying a day out in the knowledge that the horse knows his job. Andrew Callwood and Roger Rimmer, both supply hirelings to The Cheshire Forest Hunt.
I don't own a black coat or hunting stock so what do I wear?
That's fine. If you have a hacking jacket then wear that with a shirt and tie. During Autumn hunting (September and October) we all wear tweed with a shirt and tie, and our horses are not plaited. During the Open Season (November to March) a black coat and white stock is correct, and your horse should be plaited. It is important to be smartly turned out. Ladies please wear a hairnet and if you hair is long, tie it back! Also you should leave your ear rings at home!
What should I do when I arrive at the meet?
It is always best to arrive in plenty of time and it is suggested you arrive about 45 minutes before the scheduled start time. Upon arrival, leave your horse in its trailer/lorry, and go and ask for the Hunt Secretary or Master. Introduce yourself, smile, and you will guarantee a warm welcome in return!
Do I have to pay to go hunting?
Yes, you will need to pay the price previously agreed with the Hunt Secretary. You should have the cash or a cheque (made payable to Cheshire Forest Hunt Limited) in an envelope (with your name and phone number on the front) ready to hand over. Money is collected at the start of the day possibly once you are mounted.
My horse and I are used to jumping in an arena so is it the same out hunting?
The answer to this is usually no! Hunting can involve jumping out of or into uneven ground and sometimes over obstacles that are a little uneven in their structure. Obstacles may be rails, hedges (sometimes with ditches on one side), hedges with rails, and tiger traps. The ground might be muddy or wet too. Sometimes the ground on the landing side of the jump is lower than the ground on the take off side. This means that your jumping needs to be more "defensive", so after take off, allow the reins to slip as your horse reaches for the landing and be ready to sit up and often back, possibly with your legs forward ready to regain your seat upon landing.
I'd like to jump but are the stories about big hedges true?
When you arrange your day, chat with the Hunt Secretary about your jumping ability. She will be able to advise you which day(s) might be best for you. We have big days and small days and there is generally a good day for all jumping abilities.
Do I have to jump everything?
Unless the day is advertised as having a non-jumping route (and we do have days like this) then you should generally expect to jump most obstacles. It is the case that we do cover areas where once we have jumped into a field or a wood (for example), the only way out is over a jump.
Who should I follow once we set off?
It is best to stay towards the back of the field if you can manage this. You can then see what everyone else is doing and be guided by others as the day progresses. Importantly, you can see others jump in front of you and watch their style, and get ideas about how to (and how not to!) approach the jump.
What will the day be like in terms of riding and jumping etc?
All days vary but we normally set off at a fairly energetic pace, often hacking for some distance, following the hounds. There is often some early jumping, with cantering across fields and through woods. There may be periods where we are standing around, and this provides a good opportunity to watch hounds and make new friends.
What if my horse refuses to jump?
Very few horses jump everything first time, every time. If your horse refuses, let the people behind carry on past, tuck in behind and have another go. Most horses will jump if following another. The important thing is don't worry about it. Someone will help you.
Will I fall off and what happens if I do?
Everyone falls off (including the Masters!) at some point and if you are new to hunting then you might. Do not worry if you do, as someone will help you. If your horse canters off, then it will be caught and brought back to you. Take your time to get your breath and get remounted. The field won't be far away and they will know you need a little time to catch up. By the way, you will be asked to donate £5 to the Tumble Club for each fall! All money goes to the North West Air Ambulance Charity, which is an excellent cause.
Can I go home early or do I have to stay until the end?
It is not unusual for some people to pack up before the end of the day. Horses might be tired or people may feel they have done enough for one day. If you need to pack up early, then it is important that you tell the Master or Hunt Secretary so they know you are safely on your way home. Do thank the Master as you depart, as that will be appreciated.
What should I do at the end of the hunting day?
At the end of the day the Huntsman will gather the hounds and usually "blow for home". This means the hunting day is over and everyone hacks back to the meet together. It is traditional to thank the Master before you leave and this might be best done before you turn your attention to getting your horse ready for home. Remember that your horse will probably be very muddy, sweaty, tired and hungry at the end of the day so come prepared to wash him down, rug him, and provide a hay net for the journey home. The end of the day is quite sociable, especially if the meet is at a pub, and you will have an opportunity to chat with others and plan your next hunting day!