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Etiquette & Attire

Field Etiquette when Hunting with RH

While hunting with the Rappahannock Hunt, members of the field should carefully observe the following guidelines for etiquette in the field :

  • The Master and hunt staff should be given the right of way at all times.  Always turn your horse so that its head is facing hounds or staff as they pass by.

  • The Master and hunt staff can enjoy the conversation and society of members when they are not in the field when they have hounds, riders, foxes and damages on their minds.

  • All “hallooing,” calling and attempts at hunting hounds by members of the field is considered bad manners and can spoil the sport for everyone.

  • If you take down a rail, put it back up.  If you open a gate, shut it.  Leave everything as you found it.

  • If you break a fence or do any damage that you cannot repair, report it at once to the responsible officers of the hunt so that it may be made good. 

  • Always offer to assist in fixing damage and or to pay for costs incurred by the hunt. 

  • Do not ride over crops and keep off all seeded fields. 

  • A newcomer to a country who wishes to hunt should first contact the Honorary Secretary, both to determine whether or not new members are being accepted as well as to become acquainted with local protocol.  If you have been given permission to bring a guest,  you are respon­sible for that guest and should assist your guest during the hunt. 

  • No one should speak to a huntsman in the field without first getting permission from the Master to do so.  The less a huntsman is spoken to, the more time he will have to attend to the business at hand.

  • If you must leave the hunt early, get permission from the Master to excuse yourself and take roads, if at all possible, to get back to the meet.  Take care not to disrupt hunting or pass through areas that are yet to be drawn.

  • When a hunt has been given the privilege of riding over the property of a landowner, do not assume that members of that hunt, or any others, have the right to trespass without specific permission from the landowner, the appointed agent, tenant or farmer, whether hacking on non-hunting days, going to a meet or returning from a hunt.

  • At the close of the day—when you leave the pack to go home—ride up to the Master and say, “Thank you.”  It also is appropriate to thank the huntsman, if convenient. 

  • The time to clean ones trailer is not at the meet (especially on someone’s lawn).  Pick up trash around your trailer whether it is yours or not.  Pay attention to wet areas so that you do not cause damage.

  • Be courteous and friendly to the public.  A smile or wave of the hand does wonders for the good of our sport.  Re­member that the deer hunter you just snubbed could own half of Rappahannock County.  Please speak when you see someone.

  • Keep safety foremost on your mind.  If you are on a run and the person in front of you fails to keep up, pass safely.  Otherwise, stay in your position.  If your horse refuses a jump, move to the back of the field and let the next rider move ahead.


MFHA Code of Hunting Practices  
As members and subscribers of an MFHA-recognized hunt, each of us is required to adhere to the MFHA Code of Hunting Practices.  Abiding by this code demonstrates that the members of The Rappahannock Hunt respect the traditions and civility of foxhunting and are dedicated to advancing the best interests of our sport.  Here are the MFHA Code sections related to followers of the hunt:

Mounted Followers
Because the hunt meets by arrangement and is recognizable and therefore accountable, mounted followers enjoy access to large areas of countryside denied to other people.  When fol­lowing hounds mounted, you must:


  1. Conform to local standards of behavior.  These are many and various. Find out what the local conventions are and observe them strictly. 

  2. Ensure that your turnout is neat, clean and safe.

  3. Do not block roads or access to farm equipment.

  4. Be punctual at the meet.  All Masters should establish policy that deals with late arrivals and early departures.

  5. Make a sincere attempt not to cause damage.  If you break a fence or cause or notice damage of any kind, report it immediately to the Master or Secretary.

  6. Leave gates the way you find them.  If there is any question, contact the land­owner or farm manager to find out the correct disposition.

  7. Go slowly through or around livestock to prevent disturbing them.  Never cross a planted field.  Go around the headland.

  8. In parking your trailer or van, be sure you have permission to park there and cause no obstructions.  Be sensitive to the fact that not everyone enjoys the presence of neither horses nor the evidence they leave behind.

  9. Above all, obey the Field Master.

Car Followers

Car followers are welcome but they must also obey the rules.

  1. Do not interrupt the flow of traffic.  Courtesy must be shown to every motorist. 

  2. Do not obstruct gateways or drives. 

  3. Do not drive vehicles into private drives, farmland or open country unless you are sure that proper permission has been obtained. 

  4. Keep together as much as possible and try to avoid heading the quarry or getting between hounds and their game. 

  5. If hounds or horses are nearby, stop in a safe, legal place and switch off your engine.  Exhaust fumes mask scent and irritate hounds’ noses. 

  6. Please do all you can to help the hunt.  When you leave your vehicle, follow the code for foot followers.

Foot Followers

Foot followers can be very helpful to the hunt both during a day’s hunting and at other times.  Please remember:

  1. If you leave the road, you become a guest on someone’s land and should behave accordingly.

  2. Do not get into such a position as to head the quarry; to do so is to spoil your own and everyone else’s sport.

  3. Be as quiet as possible.

  4. If you see the fox or coyote, let it get well past you before signaling the hunts­man with a “holloa,” holding up your cap or a white handkerchief. 

  5. Leave gates the way you found them.  Be ready to open or close gates for the hunt staff or field.  Report any damage you see to the Master or Secretary.


  1. Every effort must be made to prevent hounds and followers from hunting a fox into a “built-up” area or straying onto places where they are not welcome.Accidental trespass cannot always be avoided, but the wishes of all landowners, no matter how small, must be respected.  

  2. Animal rights activists can be extremely irritating and may even break the law.  Hunt followers must resist the temptation to retaliate in kind, no matter what the provocation.

  3. Many people use the countryside, some of whom have no interest in hunting.  We must make every effort not to offend these people  in any way.  Common courtesy in the form of a simple “please,” “thank you” or smile costs nothing.  Politeness and a pleasant manner will go far to ensure the future of foxhunting.


Proper Attire for the Rappahannock Hunt

Below are guidelines for the proper attire to be used while hunting with the Rappahannock Hunt.

The MFH is distinguished by a hunting coat in scarlet or black with squared front panels and four (or five, if the MFH hunts the hounds brass buttons in front, two in back (all engraved with “·R·H·” on flat brass for use on scarlet coats or in white-on-black for black coats).  The ribbons on the MFH’s hat are worn down.  Tan, beige or white breeches with scar­let; brick or rust with black coat.  Brown-topped boots for gentlemen, black patent leather tops or plain black boots (no laces or field boots) for ladies.  Other items the same as hunting members.

Scarlet coat with squared front panels and five brass buttons front, two in back (all engraved with “·R·H·,” as above).  The ribbons on the huntsman’s hat are worn down.  Tan or beige breeches.  Brown-topped boots for gentlemen, black patent leather tops or plain black boots (no laces or fieldboots) for ladies.  Other items the same as hunting members.

For gentlemen and ladies so awarded, scarlet coat with squared front panels and five brass buttons in front, two in back (all engraved with “·R·H·,” as above) with tan or beige breeches.  With a black hunting coat, black buttons and brick or rust breeches should be worn.  For ladies not awarded scarlet, black hunting coat with black buttons and collar color, if awarded by MFH, and rust or brick colored breeches.  Ribbons on hat are worn up.  Brown-topped boots for gentlemen, plain black boots (no laces or fieldboots) or black patent leather tops for ladies (with colors).  Other items the same as hunting members.

Black, dark blue or dark gray hunting coat with three black but­tons in front, none in back (all engraved with “·R·H·” in white and with the hunt color on the collar if she has been awarded colors, in which case black boots with black patent tops are per­mitted) plain black boots (no laces or fieldboots); brick or rust colored breeches; canary or tattersall vest; velvet covered hard hat with chin strap, ribbons up.

Black hunting coat with plain black boots (no laces); or frock coat with rounded front panels, three black buttons in front, two in back (all engraved with “·R·H·” in white); plain black boots (no laces) or, for those who have earned their colors, brown-topped boots; brick or rust breeches; canary or tattersall vest; velvet covered hard hat with chin strap, ribbons up.  Those who have been awarded colors may wear a scarlet hunting coat with rounded front panels, three brass buttons in front, two in back, all engraved with “·R·H·,” and the hunt color on the collar.  Tan or beige breeches are preferred with a scarlet coat; brown-topped boots.

Black, dark blue or dark gray hunting coat; plain black boots, no laces or fieldboots; brick or rust colored breeches; canary or tattersall vest; velvet covered hard hat with chin strap, ribbons up.

Black hunting or frock coat; brick or rust colored breeches; plain black boots (no laces); canary or tattersall vest; velvet covered hard hat with chin strap, ribbons up 

General Recommendations for Proper Hunt Attire GENTLEMEN Hat: Black, brown or dark blue velvet hunting cap.  A safety helmet with chin harness is highly recom­mended.  Ribbons are worn up.  With MFH’s permission, top hats may be worn with scarlet coat, black frock coat or shadbelly coat (hat-guard optional).  A bowler hat is ap­propri­ate with black hunting coat.  Racing covers are inappropriate. Hair: If long, to be confined neatly.

Hat: Velvet hunting cap in black or dark blue, or a safety hel­met in dark blue or black with a chin harness is highly rec­ommended.  Racing covers are inappropriate.  Ribbons are worn up.  With permission of the Master, black bowler or silk top hat (the crown should be six or more inches high and worn only with a frock coat).  Short dressage hats are not appropriate. 

Hair: If long, to be confined neatly.

Coat: Frock or hunting coat of black, dark blue or dark gray material, suitably cut, with buttons and collar trimming adopted by the hunt (if you have received your colors).  A frock coat, which is preferable to a shadbelly coat, should have rounded corners with three buttons in front and two on back.  Hunting coats have rounded comers and three buttons are required on the front of the coat; no buttons on the back.

Shirt: Traditional white hunting shirt is appropriate.  White turtlenecks worn without stock ties are not appropriate.

Neckwear: Plain white hunting stock, neatly tied and fastened with a plain, horizontal safety pin.  The ends should be pinned down to remain tidy.  No other jewelry should be visible. 

Vest: Canary or tattersall.  Before wearing a vest of a solid color other than canary, check with the Honorary Secretary.

Gloves:  Heavy-wash leather, buff, black or brown leather.  White wool or cotton string gloves are allowed.

Breeches: Rappahannock Hunt colors are rust or brick colored breeches.  Buff, brown or canary (not white) breeches of cord or heavy synthetic stretch twill (not knitted) material are acceptable. 

Boots: Black hunting boots without laces.  Black leather or patent leather tops are appropri­ate, especially with a frock coat of black or scarlet.  (Rubber boots may be acceptable in wet weather; check with the Honorary Secretary).

Hunting whip: Light hunting whip with crop, thong and lash.

Sandwich Case (or combination flask and sandwich case): Optional.  Flask case alone is not customary. 

It is not necessary for juniors (younger than 18 years) to wear formal attire.  If they do, it is the same as for a lady member.  Juniors should be properly attired in ratcatcher.

Hat:  A properly fitting ASTM-approved safety helmet with chinstrap firmly fastened is required.  Ribbons are worn up.

Hunting whip: Optional.  If used, a lightweight hunting crop, with or without thong.

Neckwear: A plain white stock, neatly tied and fastened with a plain, horizontal safety pin.  Tur­tlenecks without stock should not be worn except by very young children.

Hair: If long, should be neatly confined or braided.

Informal Attire: A tweed coat in a muted color (no reds), appropriate breeches or jodhpurs, shined brown/black jodhpur boots, string or brown/black leather gloves,a plain or colored stock neatly tied and fastened with a plain, horizontal safety pin.  Ratcatcher shirts are  also cor­rect with a neckband or neatly tied bow or man’s necktie.  Turtlenecks are only for very young children only.  Hat as stated.

Informal or Rat-catcher Attire for Ladies and GentlemenHat: Black, brown or dark blue hunting cap, black or brown bowler or ASTM-approved helmet with secure chinstrap and ribbons up.

Coat: Tweed or wool in muted colors, tailored and vented.

Shirt:  Ratcatcher or other light colored shirt.  Stock tie (plain or colored) with horizontal pin or man’s necktie.  Whether stock or necktie, ends should be pinned down to remain tidy.  Neck­bands are also appropriate for ladies.  Turtlenecks and polo shirts are reserved for children, but are permitted occasionally due to extreme temperatures during cub hunting season.

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

Boots: Brown or black leather, dress or field with laces.  Formal boots with brown, or patent leather tops are not appropriate.  Rubber boots are acceptable with the Master’s permission as are canvas-topped (Newmarket) boots and jodhpur boots with either canvas or leather leg­gings.

Gloves: Black or brown leather or string gloves.

No Master, whipper-in, huntsman, or member should wear his or her hunt livery (scarlet coat, hunt colors or buttons) in another hunt’s country unless invited to do so.  It is correct to wear a black or dark coat and plain black boots without tops when participating in a joint meet without your own hounds present.  (It’s like having “home” and “away” game uniforms.)

Raincoats: Masters may allow certain rain gear (common sense should prevail), but they should be used sparingly and be of muted colors (brown, green, black or dark blue).

Eyewear:  Sunglasses or other tinted eyewear are not appropri­ate unless specifically prescribed or recommended by a physician. This does not preclude clear prescription glasses.

At the most basic level, horses and all tack should be impecca­bly clean, polished and shining. Bridle: Black or brown leather, may be either double or single. A caveson (noseband) should be used.  Colored or ornamental browbands are not acceptable.

Breastplate: Optional.

Martingale: Optional. If used, should be plain\raised leather.  A running martingale must have “stops” on the reins.

Saddle and pad: Brown or black leather saddle, English style.  Saddle pads (if used) should be saddle-shaped, of a light color (white, buff or yellow). Colored, plaid or other ornamental pads or blankets are inappropriate. Sidesaddles for ladies properly attired and equipped are appropriate. 

Racing, Western or other novelty saddles, numnahs and saddlecloths are not proper. 

Stirrup irons should be large, workman-like and clean (shined).  Safety equipment should be used whenever advisable.

Girth: Preferably leather, but clean string and cloth girths are permissible, as are girth covers made of fleece.

Accessories: Accessories, such as figure-eight and flash nose­bands, bell and shin boots, gel and cushion saddle pads should be used sparingly and only when required for the safety or health of the horse.  Accessories such as fly hoods and ear or muzzle covers are not appropriate in the hunt field.

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