As participants in the Myopia Hunt, we are the beneficiaries of a wonderful legacy. Each of us is responsible to observe the protocol that has been carefully developed over the many generations since the Hunt’s inception in 1882.
No item of protocol is arbitrary. All rules were formulated to:
- Respect the Landowners who make the Hunt possible.
- Assist the dedicated Volunteers who make the Hunt a reality.
- Promote safety in the Hunt Field.
- Assist the Master and Huntsman to hunt the Hounds effectively.
- Maintain the Tradition of Courtesy and Elegance that distinguish the Myopia Hunt.
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All Hunts begin promptly.
All participants will present themselves to the Hunt Secretary at every meet, announcing themselves by name fifteen minutes prior to the scheduled time of the meet. Cappers will present a check for the appropriate capping fee.
If a participant wishes to qualify their horse for the Hunter Trials, the participant will tell the Secretary the name of the horse they are riding at each meet.
Meet Introduction and Route:
If your horse needs a warm-up, do so before arrival at the gathering point. Remain at a walk until the hunt moves off. Warming your horse in the gathering field may disturb the line, disturb other riders, or damage the Landowner’s turf.
When the Master and Huntsman present the hounds, all riders will gather and face the Master.
Each rider is responsible to listen carefully to the Master’s introduction, the assignment of the Field Masters, the route for the day, and to understand any special instructions regarding respect of Landowner wishes.
Our Landowners make the hunt possible. We hunt as their guests. Stay single-file at the edge of cultivated fields and lawns. Be attentive to soft footing, walking to minimize damage. Many Landowners enjoy watching the Hunt. Be sure to say ‘thank you’ as you pass.
The Fields and Field Masters:
Once the hunt begins, the field should be quiet and attentive to the Huntsman, the working of the hounds, and the instructions of the Master and Field Masters.
The Myopia Hunt has two fields; the Front (or Jumping Field), and the Hilltopping Field. At some meets there is a Junior Field.
All riders will remain close behind their Field Masters throughout the meet and will stay on the designated route, taking care not to fall behind the group. Creating a gap to the horses in front of you may interfere with the other Fields. If you need to slow down, go to the back of the Hilltopping Field. Choosing an alternate route may result in interference with the hounds or contradiction of a Landowner’s wishes, and possibly the loss of the Hunt’s privilege to ride in certain areas.
In our hunt, we have the opportunity to go around most of the fences. Those who intend to jump the fences are invited to ride in the Front Field, maintaining the pace of the field. Deference is given to riders who have been awarded their colors. Those who wish to pick and chose their jumps should ride at the back of the Jumping Field, maintaining the pace of the field.
This field is provided for riders who prefer an opportunity to view the hounds at a slower pace. The field will accommodate riders of all ability levels. However, it is not a place to school green horses. Please keep your excited mount a good distance away from the other members of the field or ride at the back of the Jumping Field. Participants whose overly excited horse disturbs other members of the field should excuse themselves for the day. Jumping in the Hilltopping Field is restricted to logs and small fences.
The Hilltopping Field Masters endeavors to offer the Hilltopping Field the best opportunity possible to view the hounds at work and to watch the Front Field over fences while staying away from the intended route of the hounds. Stay close to the Hilltopping Field Master at all times. When in a field, stay clustered around the Field Master.
A participant may move among Fields with permission of the Field Masters. When in a Field, a participant will follow the rules of that field until the Field Master can offer the participant a convenient opportunity to change Fields. Always move between the Hilltopping and Jumping Fields at a trot. Do not gallop by or away from the Hilltoppers.
If a rider must leave the hunt, he or she will notify the Field Master or one of the other participants who can pass the word to the Field Master. The rider should depart by re-tracing the track that the hunt has covered. Taking another route may disturb the line or cross property for which we do not have permission.
Order in the Field:
Be aware of the horses in front of you and behind you. Do not crowd the horse ahead of you, nor jump close behind it. Even the best mannered field hunter may show resentment. Further, you risk riding over a fallen rider or being unable to respond to a quick stop of the field.
It is helpful to place your horse behind another of a similar stride and pace. Pass another horse only after asking permission of the rider ahead of you. It is not appropriate to gallop by other Field members.
The Jumping and Hilltopping Fields should be close together when approaching a road and should cross quickly, multiple horses abreast if possible.
If you wish to gap fences, ride at the back of the Second Jumping Field. Never go around a fence as it is being jumped. Take care not to interfere with another rider as they are jumping a fence.
If your horse refuses a fence, it is best to go around the fence and continue. If you wish to make a second attempt to jump the fence, wait until all jumping riders have passed. Remember, the Hunt Field is not the place to school your horse. Please remain in the rear of the Jumping Field until you are confident that your horse will not refuse a second time.
Communication in the Field:
Advise other Field members of things they may not be able to see. If you spot a hole or a hound who is separated from the pack, say ‘ware hole left’ or ‘ware hound right.’ If staff members, the Huntsman or Whippers-in, need to come in the opposite direction than the field is facing, say ‘ware staff.’
If you see that the horses ahead of you have stopped quickly, raise your hand, with your upper arm at shoulder height and your palm flat, and say ‘hold hard.’ Speak clearly but do not yell. Pass such instructions on to the field members behind you as you hear them.
Cell phones are to be turned off during the hunt and may be used only in the case of an emergency.
Behavior of the Horse:
A horse that is known to kick will display a red ribbon in its tail. A young horse or a horse whose behavior in the Hunt Field is not known will display a green ribbon in its tail. Any horse with a red or green ribbon should remain at the back of the field. Dangerous horses and kickers are not suitable for the hunt field.
Respect of Hounds and Hunt Staff:
Do not speak to the hounds. Keep your horse’s head turned toward staff and hounds as they pass to minimize the risk of kicking. If a horse kicks a hound, the rider should consider leaving the field. Remain quiet when the hounds are working.
After the Hunt:
All participants will face the hounds and refrain from speaking until after the Huntsman blows his horn to indicate the end of the meet. Members of the field should thank the Master, the Huntsman, and the Field Masters after the Hunt.
When hacking back to the trailers along the road after a meet, proceed single file to prevent interference with traffic.
Please leave the parking area clean of droppings, shavings, and hay. Water is generally not available at the meets. Please bring your own.
Observation of Hunt Protocol and Etiquette helps ensure a safe, rewarding experience for each member of the Hunt. We welcome all questions and suggestions and are happy to have you hunting with us. Enjoy!