The Hunt Horse
A true field hunter is a gentleman or lady both on the ground and in the field. The most important qualities in a field hunter are safety and stamina. The horse should go quietly in a group, stop without a fight, stand patiently at checks, wait its turn at jumps, and jump without refusals. He or she should be able to carry you throughout the duration of the Hunt, regardless of it's length. The horse should be mannerly on the ground, trailer easily and be able to stand tied.
Horses used to trail riding and cross country riding make the best hunt horses. If you're new to the sport, it's in your interest to start early in the season with 'roading' and 'summer hunting' to allow both you and your horse time to settle in and get in proper form. If your horse is in training it's advisable to tie a green ribbon on it's tail so fellow riders know your horse is green.
Your horse should arrive at the meet clean, neatly trimmed, and properly tacked up. As cold weather approaches, the horse’s shoes should be either fitted with studs or treated with borium to assure adequate traction on slick surfaces.
Always allow sufficient distance between horses to avoid kicking incidences. A horse known to kick should be kept to the rear. A red ribbon should be tied to it's tail as a warning to other riders.
When hounds, the Huntsman, the Masters or other members of staff pass by, always point your horse’s head toward them, never the rear end.
It is correct to braid manes for formal days such as Opening Meet and Blessing of the Hounds. It is also proper, although not required, to braid for joint meets. If a horse’s mane is braided, it should be done neatly. An unbraided mane that is nicely trimmed is preferable to a poorly done braiding job.
Hunting tack is not fancy. Bridles should be flat without embellished stitching. A breastplate is appropriate to help keep your saddle from slipping backwards going cross country.
The bit should assure sufficient braking power. Some horses stop nicely in a snaffle, even when the hunting action has the adrenalin pumping, but many need something stronger. Relying on the circling technique to stop a horse creates a distraction and, more significantly, poses a danger to others.
Only fitted white cloth or natural wool (sheepskin) saddle pads should be used. Square pads or sheets, colors, and decorative elements such as initials are incorrect. An English-style all purpose, jumping or cross country saddle is recommended for hunting. Bits, D’s and hardware should be nickel, brass, or stainless steel.