The Kimblewick Hunt
Hare Hall

Photograph by Fae Loudoun. Click to see more on Fae’s facebook page.

Visitors and newcomers

Visitors and newcomers are always welcome at the Kimblewick Hunt with prior permission from the Secretaries (see the Contacts page). We aim to be inclusive and the Secretaries will gladly recommend particular meets for any rider unfamiliar with our Hunt country, whether you want to find a good jumping day, have a slow day in the woods, a short day or a day that avoids jumping altogether. Remember that anyone can come hunting: you don’t need a special horse to have some fun, although a well-mannered and fit horse will always increase your and his enjoyment.

Equally, if you wish to come on foot, the Secretaries will be happy to recommend a good viewing day or, for the fitter foot follower, a good running day!

If you have never been hunting before, please telephone one of the Secretaries and ask them where and when the meets are, and where you should park. If you would like someone to look after you on your first time out, make sure you ask the Secretary in advance and he or she will find someone experienced and friendly to look after you. Do give the Secretary as much information about your and your horse’s abilities as you can and tell him or her whether you wish to jump. However, don’t worry if you are faced with an unexpected jump on the day – there is always someone who knows a non-jumping way round something that looks too fearsome, and there is absolutely no shame in asking the non-jumpers if you may follow them for a while: everyone you will ever meet on the hunting field has done that at some point in their lives!

The most important thing to remember is that you have come out to have FUN and everyone involved wants nothing more than for you to go home with a big smile on your face.

Newcomers’ Days

Newcomers are, of course, welcome throughout the hunting season by arrangement with the Secretaries but special Newcomers’ Days are sometimes arranged during the season by the Masters. These are meets where newcomers are made especially welcome and they may be held in less challenging country. Regular hunters and subscribers are strongly encouraged to bring a newcomer on these special days and express permission from the Secretaries is not required. We do ask, however, that newcomers are escorted by or are kept under the eye of a competent hunter so that they gain the maximum enjoyment from their day out.

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Turnout

These guidelines are for general information. Please don’t let yourself be put off by anyone telling you that you mustn’t go hunting without an expensive horse, a hunt coat, proper leather boots etc: enjoying yourself is what matters. However, you should make an effort to be clean and tidy.

Horse and pony turnout

Autumn hunting
Your horse should be clean and tidy and obvious stable stains should be washed or brushed off. You are not required to plait or clip.
Full season
If your horse is kept at grass you should brush him all over and make sure his mane and tail are tidy.

If he is stabled, you should brush him all over, remove any stable stains and make sure his mane and tail are tidy. If he has a full or hunter clip, tradition says that he should be plaited but if he has a chaser, blanket or trace clip, plaiting is not necessary.

General notes
If your horse is young or inexperienced, you should put a green ribbon in his tail to warn other people to give him some room. If he has ever kicked (anyone or anything at all), he must wear a red ribbon in his tail and you should stay to the back of the field. This is to avoid the risk of injuring another horse, rider, hound or foot follower.

For autumn hunting and in the full season, your tack should be clean and in good repair, and numnahs and saddlecloths should be black or brown. Some people will put boots on their horses to protect their legs; these should also be black or brown. If you haven’t hunted before, it might be sensible to use a stronger bit than normal in case your horse gets excited or becomes strong, but please do try him in it before you go hunting so you and he know what to expect. Many people regularly hunt in a stronger bit than they hack or school in.

What you should wear

Autumn hunting
A tweed jacket with a shirt and tie or coloured hunting stock (not white) over buff or brown breeches or jodhpurs. This is called ratcatcher. Long boots are traditional for adults, and either long boots or jodhpur boots (with or without matching half-chaps) for children. Whips should be black or brown.
Full season
Gentlemen, if horse is clipped out
A black coat, white or buff breeches or jodhpurs, white stock, black boots, gloves. Red coats are worn by Hunt officials and gentlemen who have been invited to wear the hunt button. The tawny yellow coloured coat of the Old Berkeley is only worn by Hunt staff.
Gentlemen, if horse is not clipped out, or if you hunt only occasionally
A tweed jacket, white or coloured stock, buff or brown breeches, brown or black long boots, gloves.
Ladies, if horse is clipped out
A black or navy blue coat, white or buff breeches or jodhpurs, white stock, black boots, gloves.
Ladies, if horse is not clipped out, or if you hunt only occasionally
A tweed jacket, white or coloured stock, buff or brown breeches, brown or black long boots, gloves.
Children
A tweed jacket – but blue or black are also acceptable, white or coloured stock or pony club tie, pony club armband if appropriate, buff or brown breeches, jodhpur boots with or without matching half-chaps or long boots, gloves.
General notes
Safety and comfort
Everyone is advised to wear a cross-country skullcap to the current standards with a plain black or brown silk or velvet cover. You will see a variety of hats on the hunting field and, while a skullcap is not a traditional type of hunting hat, it is the safest type for members of the field to wear. Those wishing to wear a traditional velvet hat should sew the ribbons up as only Masters and Hunt staff wear the ribbons down (to enable them to be recognised from behind).

Many people will carry a hunting whip. This is not essential and they can be bulky in small hands, but they are useful for holding tricky gates open etc.

Children should be dressed so that they stay warm and dry on cold, wet days, and they are advised to wear a (preferably dull-coloured) waterproof coat in wet weather. Many children now wear body protectors under or over their coats and this is perfectly acceptable.

Run by former Kimblewick Hunt joint master Rebecca Brown, the Hunting Mad online store can provide many of the items mentioned above.

What to bring with you
Adults should bring a drink, something to eat during the day that will fit in your pocket and a mobile phone for emergencies. Children should bring some easy-to-eat food and drink, a handkerchief and a phone for emergencies only if they have one. However, children should always be escorted by an adult so a phone is not essential. If you have enough room in your pockets, a hoof pick, some Polos, and a pocket knife can all be ‘lifesavers’.
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Further information

Children

Children must be escorted by an adult unless they have been awarded and are wearing a hunting proficiency badge issued by the District Commissioner of their Pony Club branch. Escorts who are not subscribers or farmers will be required to pay an escort’s cap by prior arrangement with the Secretaries.

Autumn hunting

Non-subscribers may only come out autumn hunting after obtaining permission from the Secretaries. Meets are usually held early in the morning and are generally shorter, quieter and slower than full season days. Autumn hunting is an ideal time for a newcomer to try a gentle day or for anyone wishing to get a young or inexperienced horse used to hunting, though it is not a training ground for horses and should not be used as such. For autumn hunting caps and subscriptions see Subscriptions below.

Field wardens

Every member of the field has the responsibility of closing gates or ensuring that gates are closed behind them. Even on days when Field Wardens are out, please make sure that no gate is left open unless you have been told it must stay open. If you are asked to be a Field Warden, you should dress in ratcatcher and carry a few lengths of ready-cut baler twine and a pocket knife. You can tie the twine to the D-ring on your saddle. You should also make sure you can get on and off your horse easily. If you are worried that he won’t stand still when you want to get back on, ask someone to stay with you if you have to get off to open or close a gate. Everyone has had to do gate-shutting at some point and most people will be very happy to stay with you, make sure you are alright and get you back with the field as soon as possible.

Identifying people

The different types of full hunting dress may look very similar to the untrained eye but, in fact, there are some easy ways to recognise Hunt officials and other people. This list is by no means exhaustive but it should give you enough clues to identify most people. When autumn hunting, everyone wears ratcatcher.

Hunt staff
The Huntsman and whipper-in of the Kimblewick Hunt wear a tawny yellow-coloured livery. This is quite unusual as staff with most other hunts wear a red coat (though some wear green or other colours) and it is a tradition that harks back many years and has remained constant despite a variety of hunt mergers and splits along the way.

The Hunt staff wear five brass buttons on their tawny yellow coats, mahogany tops on their boots and they carry white hunting whips. An amateur whipper-in is usually a subscriber who helps hunt staff with their job, and may wear a red or black coat.

Hunt staff, masters and officials are the only people who may wear a traditional velvet hunting cap with the ribbon tails left free. This is so they may be identified from behind. Anyone else who wears a velvet cap should sew up the tails of the ribbon.

Hunt officials
There may be a variety of officials out on any day, but there is always a Secretary (responsible for collecting the caps and answering enquiries). If a gentleman, he wears a red coat with three brass buttons, white breeches and boots with mahogany tops. If a lady, she wears a black or navy coat with three engraved hunt buttons and a yellow collar.
Masters
Gentlemen Masters wear a red coat with four brass buttons and a yellow collar and boots with mahogany tops. Lady Masters wear a black or navy coat with four engraved hunt buttons and a yellow collar. Ex-Masters may also wear four buttons.
The Hunt button
Some ladies and gentlemen have been invited to wear the hunt button (usually for services to the Hunt). Ladies wear a black or navy coat with three engraved hunt buttons and a yellow collar. Gentlemen may wear a black or a red coat with three hunt buttons. If they wear a red coat, they will also wear boots with mahogany tops.
Subscribers
Ordinary adult subscribers wear three plain buttons on a black (men and women) or navy (women only) coat. Children should wear a tweed coat but may also wear a black or navy coat with plain buttons.
The hunting day

At the meet

If you are driving to the meet, you should always arrive in plenty of time and park and unload where you are directed to. If no one tells you where to park, pick somewhere that won’t be in the way of people arriving after you, or other traffic. Remember that some lorries can be very large and that people who arrive late can be in a terrible hurry. If you are hacking to the meet, ride there quietly so as not to tire your horse out, especially if he is not hunting fit. At most meets, you will be offered a drink by the hosts, and you may also be offered something to eat. Be polite to everyone, whether mounted or on foot. As well as other riders there are usually a lot of foot followers at the meet, often all together in an enclosed space: if you have not been hunting before or you don’t know how your horse will behave, try to stay on the outside of the crowd in case he gets excited. If there is enough room, you may take your horse to see hounds but do ask the Huntsman before you approach them.

Don’t wait for the Hunt Secretary to come and introduce him or herself – ask someone who the Secretary is, and go over with an introduction and your cap. If it is your first time out, hopefully you have already asked the Secretary on the phone to find you an escort, so now is the time to remind him or her and ask to be introduced to your escort for the day. After a little while, one of the Masters will usually make a short announcement thanking the hosts and confirming who the day’s Fieldmaster is and, more importantly, telling the field of any local restrictions, such as keeping off grass headlands or not riding over newly seeded fields, so do listen carefully.

After that, you will hear ‘Hounds, please!’. This is the signal for the crowd to part to allow hounds through and the Huntsman will gather his hounds together and leave the meet. The Master leaves next, followed by the Fieldmaster, then the rest of the field. Watch out for horses with red (kickers) or green (young or inexperienced) ribbons in their tails and remember to give them as much room as possible.

During the day

The Huntsman will take hounds and start to draw for the line. The line will have been pre-laid and will have been especially prepared to mimic fox hunting as closely as possible. If this is your first time hunting, you should follow your escort’s instructions carefully and you should definitely not ride in front of the fieldmaster. In fact, until you have seen how your horse behaves you should stay near the back of the field. You must always give way to the Huntsman or the whipper-in and, if hounds come towards you at any point, you should turn your horse’s head towards them so your horse can’t kick one as hounds are very vulnerable.

Please make sure that you pass along any messages that come through the field. ‘Gate please’ means that the last person to go through the gate must shut it. ‘Hole on the right’ or ‘Wire on the left’ etc warns others of a potential hazard. If you demolish a fence during the day, you must make sure that you tell one of the Masters, the Secretary or the Fieldmaster as soon as possible. Do not leave a broken fence or gate unattended if there is any likelihood of stock escaping. Hunts are totally dependent on the goodwill of our farmers, so it is essential that stock is not let out and that any breakages are mended swiftly.

Once hounds find the line, you will have a run. This may be just a few minutes or it may be much longer, but it is an electrifying experience. The cry of hounds is a glorious sound and the scramble to keep up is hugely exciting – there is nothing quite like it. At the end of the run, there will normally be a check while any hounds that have got left behind catch up. The whipper-in will count hounds and may go and look for them if there are a few missing, and the Huntsman will blow his horn for them as well. If you have been left behind, this may also give you an idea of where the hunt has got to.

At the end of the day

At the end of the day, the Huntsman will blow for home, collect the hounds and everyone will hack back to their horseboxes or home. If you don’t know the area and you know you want to finish before the end of the day, it is worth asking around at the meet to find out who is local and knows their way around so that when the time comes you can follow them back to the meet. If you do decide to finish before the Huntsman, please ensure you tell an adult, ideally the Master, the Secretary or the Field Master, that you are leaving: traditionally you should say ‘Goodnight’, even if it’s only midday! Return by road or bridleway as best as possible and not through fields or across ground previously crossed.

Finally, do remember at all times that our hunting is a unique privilege that depends on the goodwill of our farmers and landowners and the good behaviour of everyone who goes hunting. We hope you and your horse will finish your day tired but happy, with a desire to come back and see your new friends again as soon as possible! We shall certainly be delighted to see you again.

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Subscriptions

Please contact James Green our Senior secretary (see Contacts) for details of full and part subscription rates.

For those wishing to come out with us mounted, we must have your subscription arranged as soon as possible each season. Please do make yourself known to the Secretary at the meet. Non mounted followers are encouraged to join the Supporters’ Club.

Non-susbcribers, both adult and children (including grooms), may come out autumn hunting only after obtaining permission from the Secretaries.

Visitor numbers are restricted (becoming very restricted or non existent in wet weather) and Hunt rules limit them to two visits only per person per season. Thereafter a subscription is due, from which the visitor caps paid to date (but not any autumn hunting caps) will be deducted. This Hunt rule will be applied throughout this season.

Autumn hunting

The following prices are for autumn hunting on an ad hoc basis, however if you have paid a category A, B or C subscription before 1st September, this will include the cap for all autumn hunting meets.

Before 1st October
Adults: £25
Children: £20
1st October to Opening Meet
Adults: £30
Children: £20
Autumn only subscriptions
Adults: £350

Full season hunting

The following prices are for hunting on an ad hoc basis and guest caps. Please contact our Senior secretary (see Contacts) for details of full and part subscription rates.

Children and pony club members
£20 per meet at any time during the season
Escorts for children
£25 per meet at any time throughout the season
Farmers
Farmers who do not supply forage are expected to pay 60% of the general rate
Guest caps
All non-subscribers must pay a guest cap at every meet attended. Guest caps are strictly limited to two per season and must be arranged in advance with the relevant area Secretary
Central area (M40 into Central Vale): All days £100 per person
All other areas: All days £70 per person
Young adults (18–21): 50% of the general rate

If you have any questions about these prices or would like to consider a full season’s subscription, please contact our Senior secretary (see Contacts). For example, family subscriptions are available.

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Hunting within the law

The Joint Masters of the Kimblewick Hunt confirm that it is our intention to conduct our activities as follows until the Hunting Act is repealed:

We are planning to do this in several ways within the law, and with the consent and support of the farmers and landowners over whose land we hunt. The activities that we will be undertaking include:

Other information and instructions:

Every effort will be made to ensure an entertaining day for all concerned. Please help us to fight for the future of hunting by continuing to support your hunt, and by observing the objectives and rules set out here.

Please note that all parties are intent on acting within the law as it stands at present whilst working towards getting the Hunting Act repealed.

The Masters of Foxhounds Association have circulated updated versions of The Case for Repeal and the Veterinary Association for Wildlife Management’s paper Hunting, Wildlife Management and the Moral Issue.

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