Guidelines

Hunting Etiquette

The Smithtown Hunt was organized in 1900 and recognized by the Masters of Foxhounds Association in 1906.  The Smithtown Hunt is now the only hunt surviving on Long Island.  For many years, we hunted both live and drag, but in recent years have become exclusively a drag hunt.  This means that a scent is laid on the ground, and it is that scent of the fox that the hounds follow.

The Smithtown Hunt maintains and breeds a pack of foxhounds that are registered with the masters of Foxhounds Association. The hunt staff assists in the care, feeding and exercising of the pack which is supervised by the huntsman who is under the master’s direction.

The Master of Foxhounds – MFH is the person or persons responsible for the kennels and showing good sport in the field. They run the day to day operations of the hunt.  They work with landowners to preserve the land hunted on, and are responsible for carrying out the mission of the hunt, membership and both riding and tea events.

The Huntsman is the person who controls the hounds in the field to give a good day’s sport.  They give directions to the whippers-in in the field, and know each hound by name, color, markings and ability in the field.

The Whippers-In are staff members who assist the huntsman in the control of the hounds in the field and the kennels.  They are also responsible to walk hounds during and after the hunt season.  They assist the huntsman in exhibitions, parades and hound shows.

The Field Master is the person who leads the field in the pursuit of the fox (scent) to keep up with the hounds, but keeping a safe distance from the staff and hounds at work.

The Field consists of members and cappers who are riding with the hunt that day.

Cappers are invited guests riding with the hunt that day

The Smithtown Hunt is now a 501(c) (3) non-profit charitable organization, whose mission is Conservation, Preservation and Education.

The following pages are your guidelines when foxhunting with The Smithtown Hunt.  They will prepare you for a safe and knowledgeable day of foxhunting.  You will learn the traditions, the thrill of watching the hounds work and make new friends.  TALLY HO!

General Information

Riding membership is by invitation of the Master of Fox Hounds only.

Children under 12 must be accompanied by a parent only.  A senior in the Smithtown Hunt is 18 years old or older.

Horses and riders must qualify to ride in the hunter trials and special classes in the horse show by hunting a defined number of times during that hunt season.

Never pass the field master.

Stallions are permitted in the field with special permission only.

No smoking.  No drinking on roads.  All cell phones are to be used only in the event of an emergency.

Subscribers may not contact landowners, public officials, etc. without prior permission from a master.

All expenditures must be reviewed by a Master first.

When you prematurely leave the hunt, do not interfere with the working of the hounds, staff or huntsman.  Get directions from the field master.

Any horse found to refuse fences will be asked to ride to the rear.

Kickers may be asked to leave the field.


RIDING PRIVILEGES ARE SUBJECT TO THE DISCRETION OF THE MASTER OF FOX HOUNDS.  ANY RIDER, REGARDLESS OF SENIORITY OR COLORS, MAY BE ASKED TO LEAVE THE FIELD FOR ANY REASON, INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO SAFETY OF HORSE AND/OR RIDER, IMPROPER ETIQUETTE, INTERFERENCE OF HUNTSMAN, HOUNDS OR FIELD, DESTRUCTION OF PROPERTY.

Rider

 Listed below are some basic guidelines to be followed when hunting with the Smithtown Hunt.  These are both for tradition and safety.

  • Attire to be neat and workmanlike.
  • Wednesday’s attire is ratcatcher (informal).
  • Sunday’s attire after opening hunt is formal.
  • Chaps are not permitted in the hunt field.  However, they may be worn for hound walking with the Master’s permission.
  • Rain gear and ski jackets are to be dark in color.  Only worn by permission of the field master or Master in charge.  Always bring your riding jacket.
  • Do not chew gum while riding.
  • Cell phones are to be turned off and used for emergencies only.  Leave business at home or stay home.
  • Black field boots are not acceptable as senior formal attire.
  • Jackets should be buttoned at all times.

Horse & Tack

 HORSE

  • Properly groomed and fit.
  • Horses braided for Opening and Closing hunts, Parades, Exhibitions, Hunter Trials and The Smithtown Hunt Horse Show.  Yarn should be the color of the horse’s mane with the exception of St. Patrick’s Day parade which may be green.
  • Red ribbon or tape should be tied on the tail of a horse that kicks.  A green ribbon on the tail of a green horse.  However, a red and green ribbon on the tail of a green horse that kicks.  Kickers should always be at the end of the field.
  • Horses should be clipped for winter hunting.

TACK

  • Tack should be clean and in good repair.
  • Dark rubber reins are permitted.
  • White contoured saddle pads.   No square pads.
  • Plain flat hunting bridle – no fancy stitching.  Caveson required.
  • Hunting breastplates and martingales are optional.
  • English leather saddles.
  • Leather girths preferable but string and web permissible.

Familiar Calls

Hold Hard – means stop where you are!  It is signaled by a vertically raised forearm.  Raise your own arm to alert riders behind you.

Track means to ride single file.

Ware hounds, huntsman, whip, etc.  means they have the right of way.  Make room for them to pass.  If reversing, turn your horses head to passersby.

Quiet means exactly that – Quiet!!

When riding first or second flight, you are expected to keep up.  Guests who are unsure of their mounts should start in second flight.  Inform your field master if you wish to move up.