What Do You Know about Fox Hunting?
History of Fox Hunting:
Fox hunting has a history dating back several centuries in various parts of the world but is more associated with the UK, Australia and Ireland. During Fox Hunting, these animals are tracked, followed and sometimes even killed. Traditionally, the red fox is the object of these hunting expeditions and foxhounds or scent hounds are used in the chase followed by the Huntsman, Hunt Master and a First, Second and sometimes a Third Field on horseback all dressed in Fox Hunting Apparel. Fox hunting is based more on the thrill of the chase rather than the actual killing of the animal.
Fox hunting is the sport of mounted riders chasing wild fox or coyote with a pack of hounds. It is a union of man and animal in the wide open space between man and nature. Man is the observer mounted on the back of a horse, the vehicle that allows him to follow the hounds as they hunt across the field. The scenario unwinds before the Fox hunter's eyes and ears with the sound of the huntsman's horn as the hounds give chase and the hunt explodes. The fox or coyote maneuvers, circles and runs through the countryside evading the fox hounds and the flights of horse and riders as the hunt unfolds. Tally Ho... to the thrill of the hunt!
Fox Hunting Today:
Today Fox hunting is regarded as a controversial topic in the UK. It has been banned in Wales, Scotland and England but shooting foxes as vermin remains largely legal. In Northern Ireland, fox hunting remains legal while in the other areas, there are legal provisions in the Hunting Act which have to be followed if one is to fox hunt in a restricted. For example, there are artificially laid trails which hunters ought to follow (sometimes called drag hunting). Scotland, through its parliament, restricted the activity of fox hunting. In several parts of the world, it is still considered a great aspect of rural cultures and is still widely practiced. In places like Italy, France, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand and Australia, fox hunting with hounds still happens in the manner in which it was practiced. In the US, this is more prevalent in the eastern states but is practiced all over the US.
As the ban continues in most areas the Fox population continues to increase and creates problems for farmers in the rural areas of the UK. Cameron′s plans to relax the ban were dropped earlier this year. The House of Commons will have to decide if the ban will stay in place as it stands or if it will be altered to address the rising Fox population. Fox Hunting has often been seen as a public service to land owners who raise sheep as fox pray on young lambs. Hounds have often been used to flush foxes from their hiding places out into the open where a huntsman can get a clear shot. The practice of killing by hounds has long been frowned upon. There are some who say that the hounds actually kill in a swift attack by breaking the foxes neck. This is seen as more human than once thought since most people assume that the fox is still alive when the hound carries the fox around in it's mouth. The Huntsman will take the fox from the hounds after the kill. Some hunts will use some of the foxes blood to initiate new hunt members with their first kill. These practices are marked in tradition.
The red fox is the animal mostly targeted by many fox hunters. Other animals that are also targeted are coyote, grey fox, and other quarry. In the US, the bobcat may be targeted during such fox hunts while in areas that enjoyed British influence animals like jackals are also targets. The animals used during these hunts are horses and specially bred species of foxhounds. Scent hounds will usually trail the fox based on its scent. Terriers too may be used to hunt the foxes that sense danger and hide underground. The terrier will flush the fox from ther holes and back into the open. In the UK, use of falconers to lure birds of prey into a hunt has become common after the ban on the use of hounds during hunting.
The Right Horse:
The Right Horse can make all the difference when it comes to Fox Hunting. You need a Horse that fits the terrain you plan to ride. Pick a good jumping horse to make it over the coops and up the long tall hills. Make sure your horse is well shod for the rough terrain. Finding a good partner to ride with can make the hunt more enjoyable and creates a safer riding environment. Your riding partner should have a horse who can keep up with you so that you both have a good enjoyable ride. It's important to have your horse properly tacked with a Heavy Duty Hunt Bridle, Jump Saddle, Breast Plate, and a good fitting English Saddle Pad. You may also want to have a saddle bag with drink, wire cutter and a sandwich for those longer rides.
If you are certain to be on the right side of the law and have the wish to go Fox Hunting, then you pretty much have to be prepared. You need to have the hounds and horses that will form part of your fox hunt.
Informal Hunt Attire
During cub hunting season riders dress informally: tweed hacking jackets are worn with ratcatchers for women, and shirts and neckties for the men. A ratcatcher is a lady’s riding shirt with a stand-up collar with either one or two buttons. A cubbing coat or hacking jacket has slanted pockets with a three-button front. Traditionally, women’s jackets had side vents and gentlemen had a center vent, but today people choose what looks best for his or her body shape. When choosing a cubbing coat or hacking jacket, select a color and pattern that is complementary to your build and coloring. Shirts can be any color and pattern that look well with the jacket. A patterned or colored stock tie is sometimes worn during cubbing season. Tattersall Vests may be worn, as well. The stock tie and vest add additional warmth as the days become colder. Riders wearing tweed jackets should wear dark brown, cordovan or Brown field boots. Black is for formal hunting. The rider may wear three-buckle boots instead of the field boot. Breeches should be tan or rust in color. There are several shades of tan that are acceptable. Other color and are not acceptable in most hunts. Younger riders wear jodhpurs and dark brown paddock boots. Some will add half chaps to protect their jodhpurs and give the appearance of a tall boot.
Formal Fox Hunting Attire
A member of the hunt (the general membership or guests, not the staff of the hunt) should wear a jacket that is dark in color:
- Black or charcoal gray for men
- Black, Charcoal, or Navy Blue for women
Coat buttons should be plain. The jacket can be a hacking jacket or hunt frock. A frock coat is a tailored coat, a seam at the waist, and a fuller skirt. The waist seam of a hunt frock sits at the top of the wearer’s hip bone. The skirt tends to be longer in length than a traditional riding coat to assist in keeping the rider warm and dry in inclement weather. The frock coats worn by field members and guests have three buttons and round corners at the bottom. Field Masters, huntsmen, and whippers-in generally wear scarlet coats, sometimes known as “pinques,” with their hunt’s colors on their collars and brass buttons.
Staff and members of the field who wear scarlet coats should also wear black dress boots with tan or brown tops. (Women who have earned their colors should wear black dress boots with black patent leather tops.) White breeches are always correct with formal coats. Tan or buff breeches are also acceptable.
Buttons and the shape of the front corners on a frock coat inform other riders who the wearer is in the hierarchy of the hunt. A coat with five brass buttons on the front and square corners is the huntsman. Only the huntsman wears this many buttons on the jacket. Whippers-in and Masters wear four brass buttons and square corners on their coats. A Master who also hunts hounds will also wear five buttons.
You also need to have the right Fox hunting apparel to enhance your experience in the field. It is important to keep safe. At the FoxHuntingShop, you can get everything you need for a full day of activity. From Men’s and Ladies Breeches, Hunt Top Boots and English Riding Gloves to Men’s and Ladies Hunt Coats. The FoxHuntingShop offers you apparel to keep you safe and comfortable as you trail the foxes.
At the FoxHuntingShop, there is a wide range of Hunt Appointments: Hunt Lashes and Popper, Hunt Whips, and Hunt Crops to help keep the hounds in check. At the same time, you need to have an English Saddle Bag or a good Sandwich Case for your comfort food and drink during the activity which can be time consuming and exhausting. Fox hunting is based more on the thrill of the chase rather than the actual killing of the animal. With our products, you can be fitted for a safe and comfortable day of hunting.