Each Hunt may vary slightly, but the manners and dress of hunting have evolved over centuries to be practical and are based on common sense. The aim is to be warm, comfortable and smart. It is a courtesy to the host of the meet and to the farmer/landowner to dress smartly.
For Autumn Hunting, ‘Ratcatcher’ is the norm, which is a tweed jacket with a collar and tie or coloured hunting-tie/stock, beige jodhpurs, worn with black or brown boots or jodhpur boots and smart half-chaps. Gloves are recommended. Spurs with brown or black straps are optional. Velvet covered riding hat/cap or crash-hat with a dark hat cover (with hairnet for ladies). Back protectors may be worn.
For those that do not come out regularly Ratcatcher is acceptable throughout the season. It is also the correct dress when gate-shutting.
For Hunting proper, black coats with four brass buttons are worn by the Masters and black coats with five brass buttons by Hunt staff. Members of the Field should wear a black coat with three black buttons, beige breeches, white hunting tie/stock (with the pin placed horizontally), black boots and spurs. Red coats are only worn on special occasions and by invitation only.
Lady Masters wear black or navy coats with four brass buttons. Members of the Field should wear black or navy blue coats with black buttons. Ladies should wear beige breeches, white hunting tie/stock (with the pin placed horizontally), black boots and spurs. Hair should always be tied up and held in a suitable hair net. Earrings and other piercings should be removed for safety.
Children are very welcome, but strictly by arrangement in advance (see Subscriptions page for more details). Children under 18 should wear a tweed jacket throughout the whole hunting season, with their Pony Club tie and badge, a velvet-covered crash-hat, shirt and tie, beige jodhpurs and jodhpur boots. A back protector is recommended and a piece of paper in the pocket with name, address and telephone number of contact person.
Masters and Hunt Staff wear the traditional black velvet cap with the ribbons down so they may be readily recognisable. Members of the Field should stitch up the ribbon or remove them. These days it is acceptable to wear a velvet covered crash-hat, especially for youngsters. Gentlemen wear a grey velvet cap/crash-hat for subscribers or a black velvet cap/crash-hat for farmers. Ladies wear a velvet cap/crash-hat to match the colour of their coat.
All full subscribers and hunting farmers are entitled to wear the black hunt button. However, the red coat or hunt collar and brass hunt buttons should only be worn at the invitation of the Masters.
Hunting whips – the custom is to use a hunting whip with thong and lash but if necessary a normal cutting whip is acceptable.
Flasks are best carried attached to the saddle for safety. They are a good way to make friends!
Always carry the money for your Cap, a penknife, some baler twine and possibly some food. You may even consider carrying a handkerchief or a bandage for emergencies (traditionally the stock is used for this purpose). If you are a newcomer, or suffer from any medical condition, it is a good idea to carry a printed copy of your details. A mobile phone, for emergencies only - on silent.
You should be as smart as possible with a clean horse and clean tack. Plaiting is very much appreciated but is not required until the Opening Meet. As a mark of respect to the hosts, horses should be plaited for lawn meets.
If you know your horse is liable to kick you must put a red ribbon at the top of its tail to warn other riders. If it is a young horse and you are not sure of its temperament it should wear a green ribbon. In both cases they should be kept to the back of the field.
If you are unsure play safe, use the strongest bit that your horse is used too. Use a dark or sheepskin numnah, following saddle shape. Wear boots if required – knee boots are recommended in stone wall country (generally north of Ashbourne).
No one expects you to buy full hunting attire to come along to your first meet to find out if you are going to enjoy hunting. As long as you turn up looking reasonably smart, we will make you very welcome. Most importantly be comfortable and warm. If in doubt, please contact one of the Masters or the Secretary.