The Reality of Hunting for Newbies


The Mendip Farmers Hunt have recently had so many new faces out on mounted hound exercise, which has provoked lots of enquiries about how to get into hunting, that they have answered publicly. This means that they are being blatantly transparent about the activity – much, I am sure, to the various anti organisations’ collective horror! Transparent and above board is not how antis want the general public to see hunting, and the fact that ordinary people want to participate rather than the ‘toffs’ twaddle they peddle, will be anathema to them.

  • How do I come hunting?

‘Message the page and the Secretary will get in touch with you to help you arrange coming out.’

Just so sabs don’t jump on this particular bandwagon, it’s likely that the rider will be known to the Hon Sec by virtue of the fact that they’ve been out on hound exercise. There are moles in every group ready to cause trouble for the most spurious of reasons, using edited photos and film footage, and this applies to the most law abiding of packs, so security to avoid malicious troublemakers is necessary. Expect some polite questions and checks.

  •  What do I wear?

‘Traditionally Ratcatcher is worn. Simply put, Ratcatcher is a tweed jacket with a coloured tie or stock. If it’s your first time out, don’t worry about going out to buy all the kit – smart, neutral colours are fine. Just let the Secretary know when you book in.’

  •  Do I have to plait my horse?

 ‘Good news, not for Autumn Hunting!’

  •  Where do I park?

‘The Masters usually advise on parking for Autumn Hunting.’

  •  How do I know the etiquette?

 ‘In the simplest terms, you follow the Field Master and the Huntsman looks after the hounds. If it’s your first time out, we can pair you up with a friendly face to help you get to grips with it.

So like any other club then!

  •  Do I have to jump?

 ‘There’s not a lot of jumping out Autumn Hunting and there are always people that don’t jump and the routes around the jumps are easy, so you don’t get left behind.’

  •  What if my horse has not been hunting before?

 ‘Don’t worry – they all must start somewhere! Autumn hunting is perfect for green horses. If you don’t know how your horse will react then try to keep them at the back and always face the hounds if they come past you. Green ribbon can be worn on green horses and red on horses that are prone to kick.’

  •  How long will we be out?

 ‘Two to four hours but you can go home at any time. Just make sure you’ve dropped a pin for your horsebox and that you ask the Field Master the best route back to the box.’

  •  Can children come hunting?

 ‘Children are always welcome and not just at our Children’s meets. We do ask that they are accompanied by an adult.’

Sabs don’t like children going hunting. There have been many anti comments about hunting being ‘dangerous’ – for small children to go riding. They completely overlook that Riding for the Disabled is a therapeutic ‘tool’ to enable physical and mental capacity by developing balance, awareness, communication and confidence, amongst a whole raft of other benefits, another one of which is consideration for one’s pony and, by extension, other creatures. These qualities are also upheld by the various pony clubs all over the UK, but again antis gloss over this as it doesn’t fit their tunnel-vision narrative.

  • How much does it cost?

 ‘If you’re coming hunting regularly then it’s most cost effective to subscribe and pay an annual amount. This also means you get invited to special meets, breakfasts, the Puppy Show etc. If you’re coming Autumn Hunting as a one off then it is £20 for an adult, £15 for under 21s and £5 for tots on lead reins.’

Blimey! Tough one for the sabs to tackle. Not as ‘toffy’ as they like to make out, and something most people can afford.

Anyone who has been out on mounted hound exercise knows it’s a bit of a ‘jolly’, not snooty at all and just about the opposite to everything that antis claim. Autumn hunting is a step up from that, and the practical aspect is to take hounds out hunting when the scent is best, which is earlier in the day, and the trail holds better for the hounds. Newly entered hounds learn their craft, as do new hunting people and their horses. It avoids the hurly burly of the season proper.

Sab and anti groups won’t like the fact that more and more ‘ordinary’ people go hunting, which means more and more people can see for themselves that hunting bears no resemblance to the claptrap trotted out on social media or in the press. They should be grateful! This means that more and more ordinary people are there to witness what happens and if they saw anything that added up to animal cruelty are more likely to dob in the perpetrators. But then that would do the sab groups out of their funding opportunities, so do not expect sab lies to cease and desist their Go Fraud Me activities any time soon.

Sarah Greenwood has farmed in Yorkshire all her life, has a general interest in fieldsports, but particularly in hunting. She runs Phoenix Aid working in Bosnia and Kosovo.