Hunting and Etiquette
A bit about the sport of fox hunting.
Fox hunting is a centuries-old sport of mounted riders chasing the scent of wild quarry with a pack of hounds. In the U.S., fox hunting is in reality fox chasing and in Northeast Kansas, its coyote chasing. Our goal at the end of the day is to ensure all participants from hounds to horses to wildlife return home safely. No group of people has a better understanding or appreciation for conservation and respect for the land and its inhabitants. The enjoyment of the sport comes from watching the hounds work and chasing of the quarry’s scent. Preserving the traditions, etiquette and protocol of this age old sport is what distinguishes it from a casual trail ride in the country.
And if you're really curious, some details.
• Safety is the first and most important protocol at Mission Valley Hunt. We require an ASTM approved helmet for all riders as well as a signed waiver/hold harmless agreement.
• When arriving at the hunt location or “fixture”, always greet the Masters and introduce any guests. The Master of Foxhounds is the person responsible for the club and hounds and to whom all staff and members are responsible. Be mounted and ready, tack adjusted and snug at least ten minutes before the huntsman blows his horn and presents the hounds.
• Once the hounds have been cast, please refrain from talking in the field. The purpose of our days sport is to find our quarry and have a fantastic run. Even whispering can cause the hounds to lift their head and miss an opportunity.
• Please do not speak to a hound. It is never acceptable for a field member to give instruction to a hound. Only staff and the huntsman may speak to the hounds. Please make way for the hounds and do not interfere with their movement in any way.
• When hounds move through the field, please acknowledge them by saying "hounds please". If a staff member needs to pass you, they will say, “Staff please”. Pull your horse to the side with his head facing the trail.
• Please do not pass the Field Master. As a foxhunter, you are expected to control your horse. If that isn’t possible, you may be asked to go to the back of the field, or be dismissed from the field.
• Please leave plenty of room between you and the other horses. If you can’t see the horse’s heels in front of you - you are too close! If space permits such as an open pasture, you may ride parallel to, but behind the Field Master. Otherwise ride single file.
• Please be courteous to other riders. Please be conscious of young/green riders and horses.
• If your horse kicks, you must place a red ribbon in your horse’s tail and ride in the very back position of the field. It is both the right thing to do and the safe thing to do.
• If you are not prepared to jump every coop or if your horse has a tendency to refuse, please refrain from riding in First Field. The Field Master’s job is to ride to the hounds and cannot stop to assist, nor is it fair for other members to stop and assist repeatedly. Second field, Hilltopper or Walk -Trot field may be a better choices given that all jumps are optional.
• When queuing up for a jump, please leave at least 4 horse lengths between you and the next horse. Following closely will not be allowed - it is too dangerous. 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 coop and do not prevent others from taking the jump and following the hunt.
• Should you see an individual who needs assistance, please do offer your help. It is always our goal to extend a helping hand and help everyone to enjoy great sport.
• If you must leave the field, please ask permission of the Field Master. Please stay in your field and should you wish to ride in a different field, please ask permission before doing so.
• A whipper-in is a staff member who rides on the periphery of the hounds to protect them from harm and assist the huntsman. You may not ride with a Whipper-In unless given advance permission. Should you be given permission, please make sure you ride behind them at all times and give them room, ride on the opposite side of the hounds - so they can be closest to the hounds. Lastly, please refrain from talking. Often they are listening for hounds.
• Our Hunt Country includes picturesque rolling meadows, woods, farm and grazing land, and is paneled with inviting wooden coops. To allow hilltoppers to ride to hounds without jumping, we have walk through gates throughout. We are incredibly fortunate to have local landowners who allow us to ride on their property. They are the sole reason that we can enjoy the wonderful sport and should always be treated royally.
• Leave gates as you found them, if in doubt, please ask. Do not ride over crops, even if staff does. Report any damage to property to staff immediately. Always let cars pass on the road, as they may be driven by landowners trying to get around us. Riding on the hunt country (including Fin & Feather) on days other than those reflected on the fixture is not allowed.