Common Hand Signals for Foxhunting

Here are some of the hand signals you will see commonly used out hunting all over the world. Often it is imperative to keep quiet out hunting and these are used to communicate with your fellow riders.

Photo Credit Sarah Martin

“Hold Hard” means stop, stand still, and be quiet. Hold hard may also be silently signaled by a vertically raised forearm. Raise your arm while stopping to alert those coming behind you.

photo credit Sarah Martin

Although you should never be so close to be kicked, a horse that has proven on multiple occasions to kick should not be brought out hunting. A red ribbon in a horse’s tail does not absolve you of the consequences of this dangerous habit. A rider may hold their arm behind their back to signal their horse is becoming irritated and that you are too close. Back off promptly and you should strongly consider moving to the back of the field or to a field with less excitement for your horse.

Photo credit Sarah Martin

Ware Wire/post/hole/etc” Short for Beware, point to any potential hazards you are passing and if appropriate announce just loud enough to be heard by those behind you.

By: Sarah Martin, Huntsman and Master of Ozark Highland Hounds.

Shawnee Adventures

Lost Hound, Junior Huntsman in training!

I would just like to brag on my eldest son, Vincent Dean. Tonight the fam came to see me working on the ATV. In driving about the hounds got out. Over the course of 2 hours we looked and found all- but not Ulysses. He is mostly blind, near completely deaf, and very pleasantly – but severely- demented. In what turned out to be a good idea, I grabbed the hunt horn. Neither I, nor Kristi, could blow that darn horn to save our life. Vinny can play it like a HARP. Over many trips around the property, to all the neighbors, and to the street – no luck. Vinny never gave up, even when you could tell his chest and his lips hurt. Finally when I had given up hope and was putting the atv to the charger, Vibny blew again and Kris heard a bark that sounded like him. We found him nearly a mile down the road, almost getting hit. He is tired, scared, but alright and at home! Vinny is who saved him. Once he was safely in the car, the emotion of the moment overcame him, me, ALL OF US! Needless to say, he’s happy, we’re happy, and we are all exhausted !Next time you see our young huntsman please share your thoughts! Many thanks to Mark L Smith for giving us the horn, and to him and Kalie Wallace for teaching him to blow it so masterfully That’s it, I’m exhausted.

Tally Ho!

Tony Cummings

Mr. Vinny at the last schooling day. Photo credit Tony Cummings

Cubbing Season

What is Cubbing?

Cubbing is the informal beginning of Foxhunting. Shawnee hounds start their cubbing season in the middle of September when the weather starts to cool down for fall. Cubbing season is used to train the first year hounds (for Shawnee it will be our H litter this year, 2021) how to hunt with the pack, what is good scent and what is bad scent. It is also a time to train new horses about hunting as well. The scenting during Cubbing in the Midwest is often not good due to the warm temperatures often experienced here, so it is a great time to get hounds, horses and riders ready and fit for the formal season. 

Performance Trial at Hillsboro Hounds during Cubbing Season 2019

What is the Attire for Cubbing?

Since Cubbing is informal the attire one wears while hunting is a little different than during our formal hunts. This attire is known as Ratcatcher. It should be noted that Shawnee Hounds permits riders to wear short sleeve polo shirts and conservative color breeches when the temperature is above 70 degrees. 

The following is the MFA guidelines for Ratcatcher Attire. 

Informal or Ratcatcher Attire Gentlemen and Ladies Coat: 

Tweed or wool in muted color, tailored and single or double-vented.

Here is an example of a Tweed coat

 Breeches: Earth tone colors – buff, tan, gray or rust. 

This is a great example of rust colored breeches as well as a plain helmet and an appropriate tie

Hat: Plain ASTM-approved black or brown velvet helmet with chin strap is strongly recommended, ribbon up.  (All riders at Shawnee hounds must wear an ASTM-approved helmet when mounted, there no expectations)

Shirt: Ratcatcher or other light-colored shirt. Stock tie (plain or colored) with horizontal pin or man’s necktie. A plain or patterned muted-color stock or necktie, with ends pinned down to remain tidy. White stock ties are not correct. Neckbands are also appropriate for ladies. Turtlenecks and polo shirts are usually reserved for children but are used in some hunts that experience extremely hot temperatures during autumn hunting season. 

Gloves: Black or brown leather or string gloves. White is not correct. 

Boots: Brown or black leather dress boots or brown field boots with laces. Formal boots with brown, patent or leather tops are not appropriate. Rubber boots are acceptable, as are canvas-topped (Newmarket) boots, and jodhpur boots with either canvas or leather leggings. Three-buckle brown field boots are also correct. 

Here is an example of black dress boots

Spurs: Regular hunting spurs with no rowels. 

Crop: Regulation hunting whip. Thong or lash may be removed. White whip or lash is not correct.

 Wire Cutters, Flask, Sandwich Case: Permitted

Credit: MFHA Foundation  Introduction to Foxhunting, https://mfha.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/introtofoxhunting2013.pdf