Tuesday September 28, 2021
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GRAFTON HUNT

GRAFTON HUNT

 

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See link for a reminder on Hunting Etiquette

Hunting Etiquette (new link is https://www.graftonhunt.co.uk/children-hunting.html)

INTRODUCTION

Although the present government has seen fit to ban hunting as we have always known it, The Grafton Hounds still meet twice a week for legal hunting activities.

These activities involve laying a trail of strongly smelling substance and encouraging the hounds to cast for the line and then, once they have picked up the scent, to hunt it.  This is officially known as Trail Hunting, but we abbreviate it to the single word, “hunting” – by which we mean “trail hunting”.  There will be occasions, inevitably, when the hounds pick up the scent of and hunt a live fox, but this is not the intention of the huntsman and hounds will be stopped when the error is discovered.

All children who belong to the Pony Club are MOST WELCOME and strongly encouraged to come hunting!  Obviously, most of the work involved will fall on the shoulders of their parents, so this document is designed to help parents who are keen for their children to come hunting, but are not sure how to go about it.  The first section will give you practical information about whom to contact to arrange your day, what children ought to wear for their comfort and safety during the day, the cost of your day etc.  The second section will attempt to demystify hunting and explain the meanings of some of the expressions and words you are likely to hear when you join the hounds for a day’s hunting.  It will also offer some advice about basic hunting etiquette and ways to keep yourself out of trouble.

CONTACTS

The Grafton meet on Tuesdays and Saturdays throughout the season (November – mid-March), with some occasional Thursdays as well, at 11.00am.  Phillippa White (Hunt Secretary) will be able to let you know where they are meeting as they are fixed by the Masters.  There follows below a list of the Grafton Masters and the name, address and phone number and email address of the Secretary.  The Secretary should be your point of contact for dates and payments.

There will always be a Master out with the hounds, but not always the same one.  On a hunting day the Master is in charge of ALL the followers, mounted and on foot and he/she has the right to send anyone home if they transgress the rules (mostly unwritten!) of hunting.  In practice, very few people are ever sent home, so do not worry about it!

AUTUMN HUNTING

Before the Opening Meet (which is in November and signals the beginning of the main season) and as soon as the farmers have finished harvesting, the hunt will meet in the early mornings, probably four mornings a week, in order to introduce the young hounds who have not hunted before to the rigours and discipline of hunting.  These young hounds are called “the young entry”.  This can be a fraught time for the huntsman as he has to teach his young hounds what to do and to watch them carefully to correct any bad habits they may begin to develop.  It is also (apart from the required early start!) an ideal time to introduce children to the hunting field.  The weather is usually kind and the stubble fields offer soft landings; there is a lot of standing about, which gets the ponies used to being with others and not too much potentially off-putting activity in the way of galloping and jumping.  In September, hounds will meet, usually in a field or a farm yard, very briefly, at about 6.30am.  During this month and into October, the times of meets will get later, so that by the end of Autumn Hunting, the meets will be at about 8.00am or 8.30am.

For Autumn Hunting, adult subscribers wear “ratcatcher” – which means they wear tweed coats instead of black coats.  Traditionally, they also wore bowler hats and collars and ties, but increasingly – and for safety reasons – crash hats have become the norm, worn with a coloured stock (correct hunting neckwear for adults, obtainable from hunting outfitters) as an alternative to a shirt and tie.  Black coats are incorrect dress for Autumn Hunting and should not be worn before the Opening Meet.  On wet days, waxed jackets, or the equivalent, are acceptable as well as tweed coats.

[Gateshutters should always wear ratcatcher, even after the Opening meet; thus they can easily be distinguished by their different dress, in the hunting field].

MONEY

The children of full subscribers aged 12 and under may hunt free of charge.

Autumn Hunting

12yrs & under – £15

13 – 17yrs – £20

 

Opening Meet onwards per day

12yrs & under – £15

13 -17yrs – £25

 

Book of 5 Tickets

12yrs & under – £60

13 – 17yrs – £100

A mounted adult will be charged £35 per day and their child continually on the lead rein will be charged £5per day for a maximum of 6 days.

Members may work towards passing the Hunting Certificate from the age of 12.  The syllabus is available from Maureen Wyman or on the Pony Club website under tests.  For more information please contact Maureen Wyman or Claire Bonner.

For further details on subscription rates and visitor’ rates – please contact the Hunt Secretary.

The Masters wish to make it clear that, in the interests of safety, children under the age of 15 must be accompanied by a responsible mounted adult out hunting and Autumn hunting.  The adult, who may accompany a maximum of 3 children under 15, will be subject to a reduced rate of £50 per day unless a subscriber or Grafton farmer.

All children must wear or have in their pocket a label inscribed with their name, address and telephone number.  A chocolate bar in their pocket is also a good idea!

The hounds meet at 11.00am.  It is advisable to allow half an hour before that to park, unbox, sort out ponies and riders and hack on to the place of the meet.  A designated parking place will be organised by the Field Master so you need to contact the Hunt Secretary for details the day before hunting.  Do not drive right up to the place of the Meet and expect to unbox.

In the hunting field, children should always try to stay behind the masters and subscribers, especially approaching any jump, for their own safety.

WHAT TO WEAR

Essentially, the important thing is to be warm and dry and safe.  However, there is a certain dress code attached to the hunting field, which has evolved from centuries of trial and error.  It keeps everyone looking neat and tidy, which helps to maintain the good appearance of hunters when out on the road in public view; it also shows respect to our hosts, the farmers and landowners, on whose land we are riding and by whose invitation we are out.  The Masters have the right to ask anyone who is incorrectly dressed to go home.

Only the Masters and Hunt Staff wear scarlet coats (sometimes referred to as Pink coats, because the most famous tailor of hunting wear was, in the 19th century, one Thomas Pink).  The point of wearing a bright vibrant colour in the green and brown countryside is so that the hunt officials can be seen from a distance and those that are left behind or lost can find them easily.  Occasionally, a subscriber whom the Masters wish to honour for their riding skills out hunting, or thank for financial contributions to the hunt coffers, are invited to hunt in a red coat, but it is by invitation only.  Similarly, some subscribers are invited to wear the “Hunt Button”, as a sign of loyal support to the pack and/or skills in the hunting field.  This, too, is an honour, much prized by those who have been awarded it!

Children should wear jodhpurs, a shirt and tie (if possible, but a polo neck would be acceptable), a tweed hacking jacket (which keeps them both warm and dry, but in really heavy rain it would be permissible to wear a dark coloured waterproof coat) and MOST IMPORTANT of all, a hard hat which should be your normal pony club approved riding hat.  Many parents like their children to wear back protectors over their jackets and this is a sensible precaution, in case the worst should happen and the child should take a tumble.

On their feet children should wear leather jodhpur boots, with chaps if they prefer some extra protection from the rain and brambles.  DO NOT send children out in wellies as they are not safe when wet and can slip through the stirrups, causing children on (possibly) bolting ponies to be dragged by their feet should they slip out of the saddle.

String or wool or fleece gloves are advisable, to keep small hands warm, if not dry!

It would be sensible not to wear jewellery (such as earrings) in case they get caught and damage ears and/or get lost.  Girls’ hair should be tied back and/or kept tidy in a hair net as hair flying in your eyes can be a grave handicap when trying to see where you are going!

If you are planning to lead your child from the ground, prepare yourself for mud, rain and wind – anything else is a bonus in November.

HUNTING ETIQUETTE

A lot of people are worried about the mysteries of hunting etiquette, but if you follow a few basis rules, you will find that everyone is keen to help you and to welcome you and your children into the hunting community.

Remember that we can only hunt over the land if the farmers give us their permission and without them there would be NO hunting activities of any sort.  ALWAYS LOOK OUT FOR ESCAPING SHEEP, OPEN GATES, BROKEN FENCES AND WIRE and report it to the Hunt Secretary or to someone on the road – the two men on the quad bike are the best people to tell, as they can quickly sort out any problems and notify the Hunstman and the Master.

There follows a brief list of do’s and don’ts, as a guide to help you on your first few days:

  1. Do NOT be late for the meet.
  2. DO make yourself known to the Secretary (now is the time to pay your “cap”) and say “Good Morning” to the Master.
  3. Call all Masters, “Master” regardless of their gender (you don’t need to know their names!)
  4. Keep your ponies’ heads TOWARDS the hounds at all times during the meet, or if you meet them on a road, so that they don’t kick a hound – this is a serious offence and you may be asked to take the kicker home.
  5. If you think your pony might kick others, ALWAYS tie a red ribbon round the top of its tail as a warning to others to keep away from its hind legs.
  6. If your pony is likely to kick and has a ribbon, you must keep it at the back.
  7. ALWAYS thank passing traffic for slowing down on the road (even if they don’t! – maybe they will next time …?)
  8. Be careful not to ride on mown grass verges.
  9. ALWAYS thank people, mounted or on foot, who hold gates open for you.
  10. ALWAYS, ALWAYS, make sure that any gate you have opened is closed behind you, firmly and securely.
  11. Keep quiet and still when the huntsman is drawing a covert (looking for the scent to hunt) and listen for the hounds to speak (bark), which shows they have picked it up and you will soon be off!
  12. NEVER gallop past the Master, always stay some way back.  If you are invited to come forward, or, even better, to go with the huntsman as he draws the covert, this is a HUGE honour and you must listen carefully to instructions.  (This is unlikely to happen until you have passed your Pony Club Hunting Certificate).
  13. If you are unfortunate enough to fall off, try and hang on to your pony’s reins and your accompanying adult will be able to sort you out.
  14. STAY CLOSE TO YOUR ACCOMPANYING ADULT AT ALL TIMES and listen to any helpful advice you may be given about holes, wire on the ground etc. keep your eyes and ears open!
  15. It is courteous to say ‘Goodnight’ to the Master when you go home at the end of your day – but it is not essential to stay out until the Master goes home, you must look after your pony and take him/her home before they get too tired – remember, a tired pony makes mistakes and that is when accidents may happen.
  16. If you do have a velvet hat, make sure the dangly tabs at the back are sewn up, as only the Masters and Hunt staff (the Hunstman and the Whipper-in) are entitled to wear the tabs down and dangling, but all hats are sold with them down!

GLOSSARY

There are some words which, used in a hunting context, mean something completely different – here are a few, the meanings of which you may find it useful to know;

The Field Master … is in charge of the day.  He/she must be listened to if they have something to say at the meet and must be carefully followed around crops and across grass – do not be tempted to take short cuts unless you know very well indeed exactly where you are and on who’s land – farmers are good enough to have the hunt on their land, it is vital that we respect their wishes.  The Field Master will have seen the farmer before the day and discussed which fields we may ride through and in which ones we are not welcome, do not make your own decisions!

To draw a covert ….. this means that the huntsman will put his hounds into a wood or a rough place and encourage them to sniff around for the scent.

Hounds (they are NEVER referred to as ‘dogs’) are speaking/giving tongue/giving mouth … this means the hounds have picked up the scent of something and are barking as they hunt the trail.

The line … this means the line of the scent/trail.

To cast … the huntsman asks his hounds to sweep forward, or behind, or to the side of him in an arc shape to try and find the scent.

The field …. this means all the mounted followers, as in ‘on Saturdays there is a large field’, meaning that a lot of people come hunting on Saturdays.

A check …. this means that the hounds have temporarily lost the scent and they may have to ‘cast’ again in order to find it and carry on hunting.

A couple of hounds …. obviously, this means two hounds, but they are nearly always counted in couples, as in ‘two and a half couple are hunting in the covert’, meaning five hounds altogether.

Gone away … this means the hounds have found the scent and have left the covert, hunting.

Goodnight … when you leave the hunting field, even if it is only 12 noon, you should say ‘goodnight’, rather than ‘goodbye’ to the Master.  This is a custom that comes down from the days before children hunted very much and everybody had enough horse power to stay hunting until it was dark!

Gateshutters…. these are mounted followers, probably subscribers to the hunt, who have volunteered to take on the responsibility for making sure that all the gates that the field have gone through are closed behind the hunt.  They are usually only required to fulfill this duty (it is not a very popular job) until 2.30pm, once or twice a season.  They will ask for your co-operation and if you are significantly behind them, they will pass the responsibility for shutting the gates you need to open directly back to you.  When there are no gateshutters out for the day and in any case after 2.30pm, everyone is responsible for shutting the gates behind them.  THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT!

We hope this explanation will help you find your way around the hunting world and we all look forward very much to helping newcomers of all ages and welcoming them to the Grafton this season.  If there are other questions that you need to ask, please don’t hesitate to ring or email Phillippa White.

To get correct information about the times, venues and parking instructions for hunting, please contact Phillippa White, the Hunt Secretary (contact details below).

MASTERS AND HUNT OFFICIALS

Joint Masters:  Charles Smyth-Osbourne MFH, John Thame MFH, Mrs T Leeming MFH, Mrs F Berner MFH, Henry Chapman MFH and Roger Brown MFH

Secretary:                   Phillippa White

Mobile:                       07973 877370

Email:                         info@graftonhunt.co.uk

Website:                     www.graftonhunt.co.uk

Address:                     The Stables, Thorpe Mandeville, Banbury OX17 2HX

Hunstman:                  Mick Wills

Whipper-In:                Chris Mardles