Glossary of Hunting Terms and Signals

Below is a list of terms and signals that may be heard or seen when hunting:

 All onA term used by the Whipper-in to the Huntsman to tell him all the hounds are present.
 Autumn huntingThe period after the harvest is in and before the Opening Meet. This starts at first light. It is now used to integrate the young hounds with a few older ones to teach them their job, and is ideal for riders to help get their mounts fit.
 BabblerA hound which speaks unnecessarily, e.g. without a true line or when it is way behind the pack is said to be a babbler or babbling.
 BenchesThe raised wooden platforms at the kennels on which the hounds sleep.
 BitchFemale hound.
 BlindThe country is blind when covered with leaf and long grass. A fence is blind when any ditches are hidden in the same way.
 Blowing awayWhen the Huntsman blows away a quick series of pulsating doubled notes on his horn and the hunt is on. A thrilling sound which communicates a sense of urgency to the hounds and lets the field master know that the time has come to gallop on following hounds.
 Blowing outThe Huntsman blows a long continuous sad wilting note to bring hounds out of a covert.
 BullfinchA high uncut thorn hedge that often has to be jumped through rather than over.
 Bye-dayAn extra day fitted into the hunt calendar that has not been advertised previously.
 CapAs well as headgear, this is a charge made by the Hunt for a day's hunting and collected by the Secretary.
 Car PleaseIs shouted to tell the Field to keep to the left to let cars through on the road.
 CastWhen hounds lose a line, they cast themselves in various directions, either by themselves, or to the Huntsman’s directions, to recover the scent.
 CheckHounds check when they lose the line or scent. This is when they need to cast (see above).
 CountryThe area in which the Hunt operates. e.g. Meynell country, Thursday country and so on.
 CoupleTwo hounds are a couple. Hounds are always counted in couples; so 12 and a half couple = 25 hounds. This comes from the practice of attaching a young hound to an older hound by a leather collar (a ‘couple’ - two collars linked on a chain that can be seen hanging on the hunt staffs' saddles), to teach the younger one obedience.
 CovertPronounced ‘cover’.  Usually a wood, spinney or gorse where the trail layer may commence the line.
 CrySpeak is the term for a hound’s bark.  Cry is when they speak to a line.
 Cur dogAny dog other than a Foxhound.                                                                                                                                 
 Cut and laidA fence of thorns where the thorns are half cut through near the ground and bent over, with stakes driven into the ground and tied at the top with binders, then neatly trimmed.
 DogMale hound.
 DraftThe Huntsman drafts (selects) a pack for the following day’s hunting from the whole pack.
 DragA line of artificial scent laid by a mounted horseman dragging a bag containing something smelling unpleasant.
 EnteredAn entered hound is a hound that has done a season's hunting. An unentered hound is one that has not yet hunted a full season.
 FeatherHounds are said to feather or be feathering when they have the line but are unable to speak to it.
 FieldThe mounted followers.
 Field MasterThe person in charge of leading and controlling the Field. Always follow the field master and never ride in front.
 FoilThe line may be foiled when the person laying the line doubles back on himself or when cattle or sheep cross the line. Riders and foot followers can also foil a line.
 Full CryWhen all hounds speak together on a line.
 Gate PleaseShouted backwards on going through a gate which should be closed. If this is not acknowledged by a raised hand shut the gate.
 Gate shutterA person specially designated to shut gates and provisionally mend fences. Even when these people are present you should shut gates where necessary.
 Good MorningThe appropriate greeting at the meet.
 Good NightThe appropriate salutation for the end of the day even if it was an Autumn Hunting morning which ended before midday.
 Green RibbonWorn on the tail of a young or inexperienced horse that may behave unpredictably.
 Hand behind the backMeans this horse needs space and might kick if crowded.
 Hand in the air by gatewaySignal to people coming towards a gate, but out of hearing, that the gate should be shut. The response to which should be to hold your hand in the air to show you have got the message and will shut the gate. If in any doubt shut the gate.
 HeadTo head hounds, i.e. cut in front of them, when they are on a line is a cardinal sin.
 HeadlandThe strip of land around the edge of a field of crops where the Field should ride to avoid damage.
 Heel (line)When hounds run on a line in the opposite direction to which the person laying the line has run.
 Hold hardAn expression used by the Master for the Field to stay where they are and not to follow him. Or for the riders to stop and wait.
 HolloaPronounced holler.  A loud sound made by the voice to encourage the hounds to move towards the line and to stay on it. The use of this should be restricted to experienced members of the hunt. Sometimes the holloa may be replaced by a whistle. In either case the cap should be removed and pointed along with the horses head in the direction the line was laid. You may hear the huntsman call "Hoic holloa" this indicates that he has heard the holloa but needs it to be repeated to get his bearings.
 Hot bitchesIn season bitches.
 HoundAll scent hunting dogs are referred to as hounds. It is the duty of mounted followers to keep out of the way of the hounds, not vice versa.
 Hound ExerciseIn summer the hunt staff will start to walk hounds out in the country, usually on bicycles (the hunt staff, not the hounds) to get them fit.
 Hunt Button and CollarEvery Hunt has its own logo printed on its buttons. With the MSSH, all full subscribers and hunting farmers are entitled to wear the black hunt button.  Subscribers who have over a period of time gained knowledge and been helpful to the hunt may be invited by the Joint Masters to wear the red coat and brass hunt button or maroon collar of the hunt.
 Hunt staffThe Huntsman and all those who work in the kennels and stables. They were formerly called hunt servants (and working for a hunt is still called ‘hunt service’) because they were, in effect, servants of (and paid by) the Masters.
 Hunting TieNot to be confused with a normal neck tie worn during autumn hunting.  It is recommended that the ends of the tie be secured to the shirt with safety pins to prevent the ends flapping in the wind. Ties should be secured with a tie pin placed horizontally. Modestly coloured ties should be worn with Ratcatcher. Otherwise plain white or cream is correct. For help with tying try this video.
 HuntsmanThe person who hunts the hounds and is in charge of the kennels.  There is only one huntsman on the hunting field per day, he may also be a Master, and he has absolute right of way at all times.
 Joint-mastersThose people who have been appointed by the Hunt Committee to share the multitudinous tasks associated with the Hunt. They are entitled to use MFH (Master of Foxhounds) after their names. Female Masters are Masters – not Mistresses. Sometimes a Master will also hunt hounds: he or she will then be referred to as an ‘amateur’ huntsman – not a derogatory term but used to distinguish them from professional (paid) staff.
 Keep in PleaseA signal given to members of the field when riders must keep in to the verge or off the crop.
 Kennel huntsmanSome huntsmen also fill the role of kennelman (and are therefore known as the kennel huntsman).
 KennelmanLooks after hounds in kennels, assuring that all tasks are completed when pack and staff return from hunting.
 Kick onYou may get this response when you make way for someone at a gate or jump. It means you don't have to wait for him/her and should carry on. Or it may be just general encouragement.
 LarkJumping fences when hounds are not running.
 Lawn MeetA meet where refreshments are provided by someone, usually the owner of the property where the meet is taking place. This person should be thanked by everyone as they leave the meet. Good etiquette dictates that horses should be plaited for lawn meets.
 LeyNewly seeded grassland. Best to go around the headland here.
 LiftThe Huntsman will lift his hounds when he thinks they may be better able to pick up the line from a different spot.
 LineThe scent left by the trail layers.
 Loose HorseShouted when someone has fallen off and the horse is running away.
 MarkThe pack will ‘mark’ at the point where the object of the artificial scent trail is finally buried (formerly this would occur at the point where the quarry had gone to ground, often in a rabbit hole or badger sett). The cry of the chase is replaced by a more intense barking sound.
 MasterMaybe a Joint Master. These are the people responsible for the running of the hunt and particularly for liaison with the farmers and landowners. They should have right of way at all times second only to the hunt staff.
 Master/Huntsman/Whip/Hound pleaseThis means give way to these people as they have a job to do. If it is heard on a road or a track everyone should get to one side, not line both sides, to reduce the chances of them being kicked. Always turn your horse’s head toward hounds when in proximity to avoid the risk of kicking a hound.
 Master/Huntsman/Whip/Hound on the right/leftThis means the Master/Whip/Hound should be let through on the side shouted. The side corresponding to the direction of travel of the majority of the Field.
 MFHMaster of Foxhounds.
 MeetWhere hounds and the Field meet before they set off for a day’s sport.
 Mixed packUsually hounds hunt in dog packs or bitch packs, but sometimes a Huntsman will use a mixed pack.
 MusicHounds ‘make music’ when in full cry.
 Old pastureGrassland that hasn’t been ploughed for decades. It has a wonderfully thick root structure and takes a lot of hammer and does not mark easily.
 Opening meetThe first day of formal hunting.
 Over-rideWhen riders overtake the Master or even hounds, usually when out of control – quite embarrassing.
 Own the lineThe first hound to pick up the scent owns the line.
 PinkSome people refer, in error, to a red coat as pink ('hunting pink'). This may possibly be a reference to a Mr Pink, a tailor in London who provided hunting clothes but there is no hard evidence for this.
 PointThe point of a run is measured from where it starts to where it finishes – as the crow flies rather than as hounds ran.
 Point to PointA days racing over fences organised by the hunt as a fund raising activity and as a way of repaying the generosity of the farming community.
 PuppyA hound which is new to hunting that season. It will appear fully grown.
 RatcatcherTerm used to describe the official dress for mounted followers during Autumn Hunting and consists of a Tweed jacket as opposed to a black jacket. Ratcatcher is also an acceptable form of dress after the Opening Meet.
 Red RibbonWorn on the tale of a known kicker. These horses should be kept at the back of the field until they become educated and no longer need to wear a ribbon.
 RideA path through a covert.
 RootsAny root crop – potatoes, swedes, mangelwurzels etc.
 ScentThe smell, indiscernible to the human nose, left by the person laying the line. The hounds also use the smell of the disturbed ground where the runners have been to stay on the line.
 SecretaryUsually the Honorary Hunt Secretary (unpaid) who deals with day to day inquiries from subscribers and those wishing to hunt on a daily basis. Visitors should seek this person out at the meet and offer to pay their cap to them.
 Single file pleaseShouted when the Field is required to ride in single file close to the fence boundary of a field in order to protect crops or sensitive grassland.
 Speak or speakingHounds do not bark, they speak or are speaking when they on scent. Cry is when they speak to a line.
 SternA hound’s tail.
 Stirrup cupThe drink proffered by the host at a meet.
 Tally ho!A term used by the huntsman in addition to his horn to encourage his hounds onto the line. 
 TantivyingThis is the act of riding cross country usually over jumps when not engaged in following the hounds. This should never be done unless following the field master who in unusual circumstances may wish to entertain the mounted field.
 Tiger trapA man-made wooden ‘A’ shaped jump, usually over a ditch.
 WalkingHounds at walk, often known as Puppy Walking, is where hound puppies are sent to private homes, from the age of eight weeks until they get too big and boisterous for the walkers, at which point they return to kennels to learn how to fit in to the pack.
 Ware Hole/Wire/GlassWare is often pronounced "War" and means beware. Therefore if you hear "War Hole” or "Ware Hole" it actually means mind out there is a hole in the ground coming up! Similarly any other hazard.
 WhelpA hound puppy.
 Whip in the air (usually by Field Master)This means stand still where you are, not wait until you get level with the Field Master and then stop.
 Whipper in (Whip)The person who helps the huntsman control the hounds. This person has right of way at all times and will only give way to the Huntsman.