If you want one of those lists that explains the very basics of hunting, or a discussion post full of people who seriously think unplaited horses should take a one- way trip to kennels at the end of the day then look elsewhere. I haven’t worn a hairnet since mine was memorably ripped from my scalp at the beginning of the 2015/16 season, and I am currently writing a newcomers’ guide for a country lifestyle magazine that advises new recruits to test out new underwear before combining them with a freshly epilated Hollywood. So yes, this is just a general list of crimes not to be committed, based on my experience (yup I have been guilty of some of them) and the great help of my friend V, who hunts in Devon in full waterproofs and shouted “FUCKING HELL IT’S LIKE MR DARCY” when she came down to Bluey’s VWH debut and saw the local field.
- Not bringing a hip flask. Mate that is not on, even if you just fill it with squash like Grandma J does on hot days
- Bringing a hip flask but putting something disgusting in it. There is nothing worse than a surprise mouthful of whiskey- apart from, maybe, being offered a hip flask by someone who clearly has the plague or some other infectious disease. Nah, I don’t want any of that thank you
- Using your phone for non- essential tasks. At Cirencester we would sometimes spend a Wednesday afternoon following the beagles (before I realised that beagling is nothing that couldn’t be improved with the addition of horses, and started to play polo instead) and on one memorable day we found a fellow fresher standing in the middle of a field, shouting about her faulty hairdryer to a (presumably) enthralled listener
- We get it. You’ve retired to the country, or been sent home from your graduate job in disgrace. Whatever the circumstances now is not the time to post a Facebook status likening your provincial pack to “trekking but with better outfits.” Save that for the group chat unless you really want your cries of help to be ignored when you end up stifle deep in an Exmoor bog
- Very occasionally someone will hunt outside of their country for polite reasons- the cost of subs, the height of fences, a generations- old loyalty. More often it will come down to sex, politics, or a combination here of. For that reason never ask “Why do you hunt with pack X when you live in country Y?”unless you absolutely want to see that person turn red, and later be told that they stole £2000 from the point to point fund while also sleeping with both whips
- Being rude to foot followers, terrier men, and drivers. No matter how important you think you are, there is NEVER an excuse to be a brat to those not on horses
- Planting your horse (sans ribbon) in front of someone and then telling them that the bugger kicks. Kickers go at the back and wear a ribbon, especially if you have the sort of country which puts you on narrow tracks or queuing for gates
- Excessive name dropping of other packs. Nobody gives a f**k that you once hunted with the Belvoir (or the C&WW :P) unless you have some epic banter that involves you falling in an open sewer/getting lost for a whole weekend/fording a river to rescue the entire pack of hounds
- When the huntsman rides past you and cracks “decided to open your legs today, you slag?” you should smile sweetly and tell him “not for you, Mr Huntsman.” The second duty of the professional huntsman is to rip the piss out of the field, and unless he genuinely is crossing boundaries you should be able to take his banter without sending a hysterical e-mail to the chairman, or causing a scene in the field
- Not helping at hunt events. Every single subscriber is busy. Every single one should at some point in the season volunteer their time for the hunt
- Most of you tell me that you know a Dreadful Amateur Whip, well the only thing worse than that is the Dreadful Wannabe Amateur Whip i.e. a member of the field who cracks their whip and shouts the name of the one hound that they recognise
- Its well documented that I loathe it when women turn up side saddle at big meets for the photo opportunity, and then switch to a cross saddle once the action starts. This is just a personal thing, and probably fuelled by the fact that said women usually look smarter than me….
- Parking badly at meets. Especially if you have brought along one tiny pony in a five- horse lorry
Any more suggestions (First person to say “post annoying write ups of every meet, complete with terrible banter, and excessive descriptions of the size of the writer’s breasts” gets some sort of electronic gift)? Autumn hunting has started here and we are currently out on foot, once mounted meets begin write ups will follow…. My plan was to go up to the C&WW as they are already out on horses, but I have spent more money than I planned on Farrow and Ball paint, and have both my FACTS examination to revise for, and an Australian study tour to itinerary-ise, so it may be main season before you get to hear from the finest pack in England…..
Happy bank holiday chaps, and good night x