The hunt staff is traditionally made up of the Masters, the Huntsman and the Whippers-in. The management of hounds on hunting days is theirs and theirs only.
In our hunt, and some others in the US, the First Field Master is technically not hunt staff but is allowed to wear a red coat.
Hunt Treasurer/Secretary ( Audrey Finke) is the appropriate person to contact to make sure the club is accepting new members, learn about membership and capping fees, etc. Contact Audrey at (618) 327-3135.
Field Secretary (Cindy Amelong) is the person responsible for collecting capping fees and making sure releases are signed annually. Please do not give capping fees to anyone else. It is the field secretary’s job to keep track of this. If the field secretary is not out that day, Gail Petreikis (Third Field Master) or Mark Smith (Master/Huntsman) will take care of releases and capping fees.
First Field Master
Their job is to provide sport for the first field. You are expected to keep up with and traverse any obstacles and follow where the first field master leads you. Never pass the field master. Follow their instructions explicitly as they are responsible for providing good sport, safe sport and protecting the property we ride on.
Second Field Master
The second field master is to provide good sport and safe riding for all in this field. Unlike first field, the second field master should never ride faster or harder than the weakest rider in the field. Because this field often goes slower than first field and does not take coops, they are not expected to follow first field, although they certainly can. Their job is to get the field into position to see the pack hunting and the quarry. Therefore, second field may at times find them selves far away from all the action and sometimes may end up too close, if the quarry turns.
Third Field Master
This is a walk/trot field for green horses or riders, basically hill-toppers. It is optimal when all are confident enough to advance to first or second field.
***Field Masters must avoid the temptation to assist a Whip or Huntsman, unless specifically requested to do so by a Master or Huntsman.***
Be good to your Field Masters. Their jobs are some of the most difficult.
Whatever field you ride in, your job is to obey the Field Masters and Hunt Staff. You should be mounted on a horse you can control and be sure that you and your horse and physically and mentally ready to hunt. Your should strive to eventually learn to ride “outside your horse” so you can start to learn and enjoy other aspects of the hunt. You need to be sensitive to when it is time to limit chatter and be silent so as to not interfere with the hunt. Do not leave the field without permission from your Field Master, although you are permitted to move to a faster or slower field if it is safe to do so.
Never speak to a hound or use your whip on a hound. The only people who should be speaking to hounds are the Huntsman and Whips. Do everything you can to avoid letting your horse step on or kick a hound. Turn your horse’s head towards approaching hounds and staff members when possible to ensure his hind end will not be in kicking range of staff and hounds as they hunt. If you are riding in a jumping field and your horse refuses a jump, go to the back of the line and let other go ahead of you before you attempt the jump again.
This field is for riders and horses who are prepared to ride as quickly as necessary to keep up with the Huntsman and hounds. Depending on the fixture, first field riders can expect to encounter coops of up to 3″, large ditches, creek crossings, and more. Especially later in the season, we hunt in lots of mud and first field horses need to be adequately conditioned to handle the challenging terrain at speed. All shapes and sizes of horses have done well as First Field mounts in our hunt, including ponies, Thoroughbreds, draft crosses, gaited horses, and more.
Second Field is a non-jumping field (although small jumps may be optional at some fixtures). At some fixtures, Second Field may be a bit removed from the action of the hunt due to taking alternate routes to go through gates rather than over jumps. Second Field’s speed is determined by the comfort level of the weakest rider in the field, so the speed can vary. Some hunts it is more sedate, while on other hunts, Second Field may go just as First Field but without any jumps.
We have a Third Field at many, but not all hunts, so please inquire ahead of time if you would like to come hunt as a guest and know you would like to ride in this group. Third Field is a walk/trot field that also caters to the speed of the weakest rider. Third Field often represents the greatest diversity in terms of rider experience levels as there will often riders brand new to hunting riding along with very experienced riders who are using Third Field to introduce green horses to hunting.
While many traditions regarding attire are similar from hunt to hunt, it is up to each hunt’s Masters to choose protocol for their hunt. Linked below is a great article on tack and attire from Horse Country Life about general hunt requirements, however we vary in our expectations in a few ways:
- At Shawnee Hounds, ALL riders must wear a helmet when mounted. Our insurance requires it, so there are no exceptions to this policy.
- Guests and First Year Members are not required to have all appropriate attire, although if possible, it is encouraged. Western, endurance or other style saddles are permitted.
- During Cubbing season (September – early November), polo shirts of any color other than red (hunt staff only) are permitted if expected temperatures are above 70 degrees at any point during the scheduled hunt time. Many members choose to wear blue shirts, but are not required to do so.
- For Wednesday hunts during Cubbing season, a long sleeve shirt or jacket (usually barber or outback) can be worn if the temperature is under 70.
- For Saturday hunts during Cubbing season, attire is “ratcatcher” which means tweed coats with a men’s tie or stock tie (colored or white). Vests are optional and do not have to be canary yellow. Field boots, brown boots, and dress boots are all correct during Cubbing. Helmets do not have to be the standard black.
- Once the Formal season starts (mid November – March) the formal attire as described in the Horse Country article is standard for Saturday hunts and ratcatcher is standard for Wednesday hunts
- Allowances may be made for inclement weather, with rain coats or winter coats permitted at the Masters’ discretion
Header Photo Credit: Alaura Barras