All meets commence at 12.00pm unless otherwise advised. We hunt by the kind invitation of farmers and landowners who have been wonderfully generous and supportive. We are deeply grateful to be allowed to cross their land.
Please park considerately. When un-boxing please park sensibly, you should make sure that you are not blocking a lane or driveway. Take care not to park on a manicured verge or do anything that may cause congestion or inconvenience to other road users.
Arrive at the meet a little before the time that is stated on the meet card. On arrival at the meet as a matter of courtesy say "good morning" to the Huntsman and Whippers-in and the Masters. Please have your cap ready for collection, which will probably be taken by Helen Best, Hunt Secretary, (this is your contribution towards the Hunt's cost).
If you recognise them thank the farmer or landowner who is hosting the meet and thank the person who gives the 'stirrup cup'’. The Four Shires prides itself on being a welcoming hunt. So the more people you talk to at the meet, the friendlier the atmosphere that is created. In particular, remember to greet people on foot and make those who are out for the first time feel welcome.
At the start of the day, please say “Good morning” to the hunt officials, even if it is past midday.
Just before the start of the day’s hunting a Master will address the crowd. Do remember to keep your horse facing the hounds whilst she or he speaks. The Master will also make any announcements relevant to the day, please listen to these and adhere to them.
The Field Master for the day will be introduced and he or she should always be addressed as Field Master. It is the Field Master's job to guide riders (The Field) across country. We also have a Second Field Master for those who do not want to jump. Members of the field may move from one field to another. Unless you are an experienced hunter, start by following in the second field, so that you and your horse get the chance to settle. Stay behind your field master, but do not crowd him/her – and do not obstruct the jumping line.
The Field Master knows the agreed route and where we must avoid. It is essential that everyone follows the Field Master. Care should be taken not to 'over-ride' (go past) the Field Master at any time, unless specifically requested to do so.
Remember to thank the hosts of the meet, as you depart. As part of the mounted field, you are an ambassador for our sport and country sports as a whole.
As hounds leave the meet, please remember to make sure that your horse's head is facing towards them.
If during the hunting day you need help or advice, seek out a member of the mounted field, who have been invited to wear the Lincoln green 'Hunt Collar' on their coat. If the Field Master gives any commands it is the responsibility of each member of the mounted field to pass these commands back through the field. For example “ware (said 'wear') hole "ware wire", "ware hole on the left". 'Ware' is a shortened form of 'beware' and is sometimes pronounced 'war'.
If a hunt official (Field Master, Huntsman, Whipper-in or Master) passes through the mounted field, you should always turn your horse to face towards them. This minimises the chance of your horse kicking a passing horse. You must always give way to a hunt official and give a clear instruction to others to move as well for example, "Whip please on your right".
When hounds are passing the mounted field you should always turn your horse to face the hounds and give way to them. If hounds are running you must move aside, stop, and allow them through, tell those who have not seen the hound/s that they are there.
Gates should always be left as they were found. If a gate is open when you get to it, leave it open unless you have received the message "gate please". "Gate please" means the last person in sight who can hear is to shut the gate. If you are unsure if you are the last, you must shut the gate, and fasten it. (It is useful to carry some bailing twine and a penknife.)
It shows courtesy to the Field Master if a member of the mounted field offers to open the gate, as this enables the Field Master to lead the mounted field through. Two people should wait together to close a gate. Please thank people on foot who are kind enough to hold a gate whilst you ride through, especially farmers or farm workers who may be holding a gate or helping in some other way.
"Headlands please" means you must keep your horse off crops and keep close into the edge of the field. Remember that we only have access to land by invitation of farmers and landowners. Any damage, be it to crops or fencing, must be reported to the Field Master at the time it happens. This is so that he can arrange repairs either immediately or at the end of the hunting day. Any accidents or livestock escaping must also be advised to the Field Master.
The mounted field should always ride keeping to the left-hand side of the road leaving sufficient room for the horse in front. Avoid riding on the horse in front’s heels. If barged from behind, any horse may kick. Always leave enough room to allow motorists to pass easily. If a car comes up behind you, pass the message 'car please' forward to the Field Master. When a car does pass or when oncoming traffic slows down you should always thank them. The Four Shires is a friendly and courteous hunt and the field should exhibit these traits. When riding along the road care should also be taken not to ride across manicured verges.
Individual members of the field are responsible for warning other members of the mounted field that they have a novice horse or that their horse is known to kick. This is indicated by ribbon tied around the top of your horses tail a green ribbon for a novice, or a red ribbon for a horse that is known to kick. It is not the responsibility of others to avoid these horses, but the responsibility of the riders to make sure that their mounts do not harm others. Horses with red or green ribbons must stay at the back of the mounted field.
When jumping please wait your turn and do not barge. If your horse refuses, wait for those who wish to jump and then have one more attempt, if the horse refuses a second time, then find a way round, so you do not churn up the turf.
If you or your horse are not confident jumping you should jump at the back of the field and see if ask someone to give you a lead. You should try to 'hold a line' on approaching a jump and not veer to the left or right, thereby interfering with the horse and rider behind you. If a jump is damaged remember to tell the Field Master as soon as you can so that its repair can be organised. If you knock any stones off a wall, it is your responsibility to stop and replace them
If a rider has fallen before or after a jump, the rest of the mounted field should wait until the fallen rider is out of harms way. A loose horses will need to be retrieved. Only two members of the field should remain with the fallen rider. The rest of the field should carry on behind the Field Master. Please carry your membership card in your coat pocket, so emergency telephone numbers are to hand.
Members of the mounted field should always indicate they are going home by saying "Goodnight" – regardless of the time of day – and "Thank you" to the Field Master as this will help hunt officials keep track of the mounted field. At the end of the meet, always thank the Huntsman, Whipper-in, quarry and Masters.
Tea will be available after each meet, either by the Hunt Lorry or at a local pub if we meet there (please note there will be an additional charge for pub teas). This is a great opportunity to catch up with other riders and discuss the day.
Please also look at the 'What to Expect, 'Basic Guidelines', 'What to Expect' and 'Hunting Terms' pages. By following the instructions on these pages, everyone should have an enjoyable day.