Fox Hunting Life with Horse and Hound

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Foxhunting Life’s guide to correct hunting attire has been prepared with reference to several sources: Foxhunting in North America by Alexander Mackay-Smith, 1985; Guidebook 1997, a publication of the Masters of Foxhounds Association of North America; Riding to Hounds in America by William P. Wadsworth, MFH (first published in 1959 and subsequently in 1962 by The Chronicle of the Horse and reprinted many times); Miller’s Catalog, 1974; and Horse Country catalog, 1997.

A careful comparison of these—or indeed any other—resources will reveal minor differences in what is deemed correct attire. The fact is, there is no universal agreement regarding every detail of attire. However, a gentleman or lady rider who relies on this or any one of these references may confidently appear in any hunting field in the country with assurance of being correctly or, at the very least, acceptably attired.

The hunting attire described here has, over the years, proved to be practical, comfortable, and comparatively safe, for which reason it has become traditional. However, your Master has the authority to dictate the specific livery for your hunt or the degree of formality or informality of dress that suits your own particular country.

FORMAL ATTIRE

Gentleman Member

Coat: Black melton or twill hunt coat with three black buttons in front; or black frock coat with rounded skirt corners in front, three black buttons in front, two black buttons behind, and two or three small black buttons on each cuff. No pockets on the outside of a frock coat except an optional whistle pocket. A black shadbelly coat is correct (with a top hat and boots with tops), but not encouraged. A gentleman member with colors may wear a scarlet frock coat cut as above with the hunt buttons (generally brass) and the hunt colors on the collar. He may also wear a black frock coat with black bone hunt buttons engraved in white. Hunt colors are not worn on the collar of a black frock coat. Scarlet coats should not be worn when visiting another hunt unless invited to do so by the Master of the hunt being visited.
Vest: Canary or Tattersall
Shirt: White, yellow, or ecru
Neckwear: White hunting stock secured by plain gold pin inserted horizontally. Free ends should be secured in place by vest or pinned to the shirt with safety pins.
Breeches: Canary, tan, brown, buff, rust, or white (with frock coat only) of substantial material
Boots: Plain, tall, black boots without tops are worn with a black hunt coat. Black boots with brown tops are worn with a frock coat.
Hat: ASTM-approved safety helmet with chin-strap is recommended, covered in black velvet. The ribbon should be stitched up. If allowed by the Master, a top hat is correct with a frock coat and white breeches. Also, if allowed by the Master, a black bowler is correct with a black hunt coat, but never with a frock coat.
Gloves: Heavy wash leather or brown leather. White or off-white string gloves are useful in the rain.
Spurs: Of heavy pattern with moderately short neck and no rowels, worn high on the boot heel, spur arms parallel to the ground. Buckle should be centered on the ankle for safety, with free end of strap pointing to the outside.
Whip:

Traditional hunting whip

Lady Member (Astride)

Coat: Black, dark blue, or dark gray melton or twill hunt coat with three black buttons in front; or black, dark blue, or dark gray frock coat with rounded skirt corners in front, three black buttons in front, two black buttons behind, and two or three small black buttons on each cuff. No pockets on the outside of a frock coat except an optional whistle pocket. A black shadbelly coat (with top hat, veil, and black patent leather boot tops) is correct, but not encouraged. A lady member with colors may wear the hunt buttons of black bone engraved in white and the hunt colors on the coat collar.
Vest: Same as gentleman member
Shirt: Same as gentleman member
Neckwear: White hunting stock secured by plain gold pin inserted horizontally. Free ends should be secured in place by vest or pinned to the shirt with safety pins. No other jewelry should be visible.
Breeches:

Canary, tan, brown, buff, or rust of substantial material

Boots: Plain, tall, black boots without tops are worn only with a black hunt coat. Black boots with black patent leather tops are optional with a hunt coat, but always worn with a frock coat.
Hat: ASTM-approved safety helmet with chin-strap is recommended, covered in black velvet. The ribbon should be stitched up. If allowed by the Master, a top hat with veil is correct with a frock coat. Also, if allowed by the Master, a black bowler is correct with a black hunt coat, but never with a frock coat.
Hair: Neatly confined, generally with a hairnet
Gloves:

Same as gentleman member

Spurs:

Same as gentleman member

Whip:

Same as gentleman member

Lady Member (Sidesaddle)

Same as Lady Member (Astride), except:

Habit:

Dark melton or other cloth, suitably cut

Veil: Must be worn with a top hat, but not with a bowler
Hat: ASTM-approved safety helmet with chin-strap is recommended, covered in black velvet. The ribbon should be stitched up. Top hat, if allowed by Master, to be worn with double-breasted dress hunting coat; bowler, if allowed by Master, to be worn with plain coats.

Master (Lady or Gentleman)

Coat: Melton or twill frock coat with square skirt corners in front, four hunt buttons in front (five buttons for a Master who hunts hounds), two hunt buttons behind, and two or three small buttons on each cuff. No pockets except an optional whistle pocket. Scarlet is the most common color, but any hunt may specify its own livery. Collar and facings should conform to the hunt livery. Scarlet coats should not be worn when visiting another hunt unless invited to do so by the Master of the hunt being visited. A black or dark coat is appropriate for a Master visiting another hunt without his or her own hounds.
Vest: Canary or Tattersall
Shirt: White, yellow, or ecru
Neckwear: White hunting stock secured by plain gold pin inserted horizontally. Free ends should be secured in place by vest or pinned to the shirt with safety pins.
Breeches: Canary (ladies), tan, brown, buff, rust, or white of substantial material
Boots: Black boots with brown tops; tabs sewn on but not down
Hat: ASTM-approved safety helmet with chin-strap is recommended, covered in black or dark blue (ladies) velvet. The ribbon should be stitched up or down in accordance with local custom. (Traditionally, ribbons down indicate professional hunt staff.) Alternatively, black or dark blue (ladies) velvet hunting cap may be worn.
Gloves: Wash leather or brown leather. White or off-white string gloves are useful in the rain.
Spurs: Of heavy pattern with moderately short neck and no rowels, worn high on the boot heel, spur arms parallel to the ground. Buckle should be centered on the ankle for safety, with free end of strap pointing to the outside.
Whip: Traditional hunting whip
Horn:

Traditional hunting horn carried in a leather case fastened on either side of the front of the saddle. No horn should be carried by anyone except Master, huntsman, or first whipper-in by permission of the Master.

Huntsman

Turnout: Same as Master but with five buttons on coat front.
Hat: Honorary (Amateur) huntsman wears ribbon up or down according to local custom. Professional huntsman wears ribbon down.
Couplings: Professional huntsman carries one set of couplings fastened to D-ring on off-side of saddle.
Whip: Professional huntsman carries traditional hunting whip or white whip and thong.
Flask and sandwich case: Neither is carried by a professional huntsman.

Whipper-In

Turnout: Same as huntsman
Coat: Should have a game pocket on inside of coat skirt
Hat: Honorary (Amateur) whipper-in wears ribbon up or down according to local custom. Professional whipper-in wears ribbon down.
Couplings: Both honorary and professional whippers-in carry one set of couplings fastened to D-ring on off-side of saddle.
Whip: Professional whipper-in carries traditional hunting whip or white whip and thong.
Flask and sandwich case: Neither is carried by a professional whipper-in.
Stirrup leather: Worn outside of coat over right shoulder with buckle in front and strap end down

Juniors

Juniors are not expected to wear formal attire because they are constantly outgrowing their clothes, and the expense would be unwarranted.

Informal Attire:

Coat: Tweed in a muted color. No reds.
Neckwear: Plain or colored hunting stock secured by plain gold pin inserted horizontally. Free ends should be secured in place by vest or sweater or pinned to the shirt with safety pins. Ratcatcher shirt with neckband or collared shirt with bow-tie or man’s necktie are also correct. Turtleneck shirts may be worn by very young children.
Breeches: Canary, tan, brown, buff, or rust breeches or jodhpurs
Boots: Brown jodhpur boots
Hat: ASTM-approved safety helmet properly fastened
Hair: If long, hair should be confined or braided
Gloves: Brown leather or string gloves
Spurs: Same as above
Whip: Small traditional hunting whip, with or without thong, or riding crop

Formal Attire:

Same as for Lady Member (Astride). Junior colors may be worn according to local custom or Master’s wishes.

Hat: ASTM-approved safety helmet covered in black or dark blue (girls) velvet. Chin strap should be properly fastened and ribbon stitched up.
Notes: Horse show styles notwithstanding, it is the opinion of many that formal attire is inappropriate for children under the age of sixteen.

INFORMAL (RATCATCHER) ATTIRE

Gentleman and Lady Members

Coat: Tweed in a muted color. No reds.
Shirt: Ratcatcher or other light-colored shirt
Neckwear: Stock tie, plain or colored, secured by plain gold pin inserted horizontally or man’s necktie. Free ends should be pinned to the shirt with safety pins.
Breeches: Canary, tan, brown, buff, or rust
Boots: Plain brown dress boots or brown field boots with laces. Canvas-topped Newmarket boots or jodhpur boots are also correct. The MFHA’s Guidebook 1997 also approves of plain black dress or field boots for informal wear.
Hat: ASTM-approved safety helmet with chin-strap is recommended, covered in black or brown velvet. The ribbon should be stitched up or down in accordance with local custom. (Traditionally, ribbons down indicate professional hunt staff.) Alternatively, a black or brown velvet hunting cap or bowler may be worn.
Gloves: Brown leather or string gloves
Spurs: Of heavy pattern with moderately short neck and no rowels, worn high on the boot heel, spur arms parallel to the ground. Buckle should be centered on the ankle for safety, with free end of strap pointing to the outside. The straps should match the color of the boots.
Whip: Traditional hunting whip. Lash and thong may be removed while cubhunting.

Lady Member (Sidesaddle)

Coat: Buff, brown, or off-white; plain, tweed, or salt sack
Skirt: To coordinate with coat
Hat: ASTM-approved safety helmet with chin-strap is recommended, covered in black or brown velvet. The ribbon should be stitched up. Bowler or velvet hunting cap is also correct.
Veil: Not appropriate

NOTES:

Weather:  As always, the Master has the final say as to what is and what isn’t permitted in his or her hunt. In extremes of temperature it is always the prerogative of the Master to suspend the wearing of coats or to allow the wearing of parkas and rain gear. Any non-traditional clothing allowed should be of muted colors (brown, black, or dark green).

Sunglasses:  Not appropriate unless prescribed or recommended by a physician. However, common sense should prevail in climates and regions of the country where intense sunlight and glare is endemic.

HUNTING TACK AND ACCESSORIES

The philosophy for hunting tack can be distilled into the expression, “Less is more.” The less tack on a field hunter—plain but workmanlike—the better. Raised cavesons and fancy brow bands may be fine for the show ring where the focus is on the horse, but not in the hunting field where hounds rule.

Bridle:

Plain brown leather is traditional. Both single and double bridles with cavesons are correct. Nose bands and brow bands should be flat, plain, unadorned, and non-ornamental.

Breastplate:

An optional but useful accessory for keeping the saddle from sliding back in hilly country. Also useful in keeping the saddle centered on horses with less than prominent withers.

Martingale:

An optional accessory—either standing or running. Many horsemen frown on the use of a standing martingale because if a horse gets into trouble and doesn’t have full freedom of its head and neck, it may not be able to extricate itself from the predicament. In that respect a running martingale is safer, but stops must be used on the reins to prevent the martingale rings from sliding forward to the bit.

Saddle:

Brown leather is traditional. Saddle pads—white, buff or yellow—should follow the contour of the saddle. Square or ornamented saddle pads are not correct.

Girth:

Leather is traditional, but string or fabric girths may be used. Fleece girth covers are also acceptable.

Other:

Accessories preferred by individual riders for their own or their horse’s safety or comfort—safety stirrups, jumping straps, brushing boots, shin boots, cruppers, over-check reins, figure-eight nose bands, flash attachments, gel or foam pads—are all acceptable. Over the course of a long hunting day, however, shin boots can cause problems if mud and stones become trapped inside and chafe the horse’s legs. Inappropriate in the hunting field are fly masks, gauze ear covers, and brow tassels. If the horse is bothered by insects, the use of insect repellent would be a better choice.

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# Guest 2018-08-15 10:58
Thank you!!
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