How to spread the word: Hunting newcomers week 21st-28th October 2017

September 11th 2017

Few of us who are keen on hunting can smell the first crisp mornings of September without a frisson of excitement and a sense of anticipation. The Festival of Hunting at Peterborough is becoming a distant memory, the Puppy Show is behind us and the new season is underway. Horses and hounds are getting fitter; coats are brushed and boots polished while elusive hairnets, gloves and crops are unearthed.

The rituals of a hunting morning begin again and we are all set for the season ahead. But spare a thought for those who are new to hunting, who are hoping to give it a go during the Countryside Alliance Hunting Newcomers’ Week (21st-28th October 2017). What should they expect?

Those involved with hunts may consider how best to make hunting newcomers feel welcome. The first thing is to make potential visitors aware of the initiative and to promote the details of the hunt’s special newcomers’ day. In these days of online communication one of the best ways is to include mention of it on the hunt website but be aware that not everyone who might have an interest will be searching for a specific hunt. The CA website will include details of Hunting Newcomers’ Week meets providing a central register, but hunts are responsible for providing them with this information.

Facebook is particularly popular with horsey people so posting details on the hunt Facebook page will probably have a wider reach. Although it may be prudent not to post exact details of the meet online, it is important to include contact details so a potential newcomer can find out more. Notices in equine stores and at events will also spread the news, as will word of mouth so it is important that all members of the hunt are aware of the dates.

To break down any perceived barriers, many websites now include a guide for those who are taking on the challenge for the first time. Providing a friendly informal introduction to the day together with a guide on what to wear will help to dispel the myth that hunting is an exclusive sport with a long list of rules. There is plenty of time for hunting newcomers to acquire the correct kit and to learn the protocol once they have had their first few days. The Countryside Alliance booklet ‘A newcomer’s guide to hunting’ provides useful guidance on all elements from the law to safety, with plenty of information on horses, jumping and who to say hello to when you first arrive. It is also worth pointing out the country sports-related Liability and Personal Accident insurance benefits of becoming a member of the CA.

Those wishing to hunt their own horse should also be reminded to consider their equine insurance. Lycetts has specialist hunter insurance policies which includes cover for broken gates.

Lastly, all hunting newcomers are eligible to enter the Hunting Newcomers’ Week competition, sponsored by Champagne Pol Roger and The Old Hunting Habit. They simply need to write an account of their experience and each regional winner will receive a personalised hunting stock. The huntsman of the pack involved also wins a bottle of champagne.

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William McCarter

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