These guidelines for conduct in the field provide quick reference to basic foxhunting etiquette. The intended spirit behind them is to promote high quality sport; to help ensure each hunting day proceeds as smoothly as possible; and also to promote the goodwill of landowners and the public, who inevitably encounter our pack of hounds each hunting day. Promoting this support builds a firm foundation for foxhunting in our community. Many excellent books fully address the sport of foxhunting and can promote an advanced appreciation and enjoyment of our sport. Suggested reading lists can be attained by contacting the masters.
The following brief guidelines for hunting attire provide quick reference to widely- accepted hunting attire. For a more thorough description and understanding of traditional hunting attire, please refer to Mr. William P. Wadsworth’s pamphlet, RIDING TO HOUNDS IN AMERICA, AN INTRODUCTION FOR FOXHUNTERS.
Following the guidelines below will insure that you are acceptably dressed not only in our home country, but also when visiting other packs of hounds. Prior to investing in hunting clothes, inquiries regarding attire are welcomed and can be addressed to experienced Field members as well as to the Masters.
The following guidelines only address basic hunting attire; those aspiring to sartorial splendor may seek further guidance through the masters for additional information on, for example, “shadbelly” coats and side-saddle habits, and variations of the hunting waistcoat.
In General: Hunting clothing is neat, tidy and workmanlike. In keeping with long-held foxhunting tradition, well-aged hunting attire, including skillfully performed repairs and patches to tack, boots, and hunting clothing, is encouraged. Similarly, clean, supple tack reflects due regard to the importance of strong, safe equipment; it further reflects good care and appropriate respect for fine craftsmanship—hallmarks of foxhunting tradition.
Headgear: Only Masters, ex-Masters and Hunt Staff are permitted to wear hunting caps. ASTM/GPA approved helmets without decoration are recommended. Hat covers should always be black. Plastic rain covers on hats are not permitted. Traditional bowler hats are also permitted. Ladies’ long hair should be secured in a hairnet.
Coats: Men and Women: tweed, cotton, or linen hacking jacket. Green coats with “Essex Orange” collar are for Masters and Hunt Staff only.
Neckwear: Ties, “women’s ratcatcher shirt” or turtle necks. Colored stock ties secured with a plain stock pin are also acceptable prior to opening meet.
Gloves: Gloves are optional--string gloves perform best in wet conditions. In cold weather, practicality governs.
Breeches: Beige, brown, tan or rust.
Boots: Black or Brown field boots, or black dress boots. Men serving as staff members may also wear black boots with brown tops if serving as staff. Leggings, though not half chaps, are permitted.
Headgear: As with Early Morning Hunting, ASTM/GPA approved hats are recommended for men, women and children. Only Masters, ex-Masters and Hunt Staff are permitted to wear hunting caps. Hat covers should always be black. Top hats (for gentleman wearing scarlet); and bowlers (for ladies wearing black or navy blue coats and gentlemen wearing black coats) are traditionally permitted. Hunting staff (masters, field masters, huntsman and whippers-in) may wear the ribbons at the back of their hats in the down position.
Buttons: In general, the awarding of the “hunt’s buttons” is an honor bestowed on enthusiasts that have hunted regularly for a minimum of two seasons, learned the hunting country, and developed an understanding of the art of venery. EFH engraved buttons, once awarded, are worn by women on their black/navy coats; and by men on their scarlet/black coats. The awarding of buttons also invites the subscriber to wear the distinctive Essex Orange, velvet collar on their coat, as described below.
Coats: Black or navy blue for women. Black or scarlet for men (scarlet only for those awarded their EFH Buttons). If awarded EFH buttons, the Essex orange velvet collar is worn on men’s scarlet coats and on women’s black/navy coats. Men wearing black coats do not wear a colored collar. Masters’ coats have four front buttons, subscribers, three; huntsmen and whippers-in, five.
[NOTES: 1. When hunting as a visitor, a plain, black coat is correct unless specifically invited to wear your home hunt’s buttons, colors, scarlet – for example, at a joint meet; 2. Huntsman/Masters’ coats are cut differently (square corners at front of skirt) than member coats (slightly rounded corners at front of skirt), so if buying a used coat be sure to purchase the correct cut of coat.]
Neckwear: A white or ivory stock is appropriate. It should be tied as flat as possible and secured with a plain, horizontally fastened stock pin.
Gloves: Optional-- string gloves perform best in wet conditions. In cold weather, practicality governs.
Breeches: Ladies: beige, or brown britches with a black or navy coat. Canary britches can also be worn with a navy coat. Men: white/ivory with a scarlet coat; beige, brown, or rust with a black coat.
Boots: Black dress boots are correct for both men and women. Men may wear brown tops with a scarlet coat, and either black dress boats or black boots with brown tops with a black coat.
Because of the impracticality and cost of maintaining well-fitting hunting attire for growing children, many hunts, including the Essex, follow the tradition of allowing juniors to wear traditional Ratcatcher, or “informal” attire throughout the hunting year for children. Therefore, after the Opening Meet, both boys and girls under the age of 18 may continue to wear tweed coats in muted colors; either jodhpurs and jodhpur boots (with knee garters); or boots and britches; and, for neck wear, either a necktie, turtle neck, or stock tie fastened with a plain horizontal stock pin.
Tack for your horse should be as workmanlike and as simple as possible. Ideally, when you purchase hunting tack, your hunting bridle should be made of “flat” leather, avoiding fancy stitching and raised brow- and nose-bands.
Also, under the theme of "workmanlike”, hunting tack (bridle, breast plates, stirrup leathers) is “heavy duty” and wider than tack commonly used in the show ring. Ideally, the bridle and reins are sewn to the bit or, equally acceptable, secured with a stud attachment (i.e., not with buckles).
Saddle pads should be either white or of a dark color, always avoiding brightly-colored saddle pads. Saddle-shaped saddle pads are preferred to square pads, which are discouraged.
For safety, horses are not hunted in exercise bandages; however, galloping boots and bell boots are acceptable if your horse requires them.
The tails of horses that kick should have as a warning to others a small, red ribbon attached; similarly, some people attach a green ribbon to the tails of “green” horses.