Masters, officers, and staff make the commitment to honor both the traditions of the sport and the practical considerations that help promote a safe and enjoyable experience for all in the hunt field. Presented here is the HFH interpretation of the traditional turnout for both rider and horse. A primary tenant of Harvard Fox Hounds etiquette is safety; safety for hounds, horses, and riders. Etiguette in the hunt field contributes to safety. If you have a question regarding turnout, etiquette, or other hunt-related considerations, do not hesitate to ask the Field Master for a clarification.

The Hunt Horse: The most important quality in a hunter is safety. The horse should go quietly in a group, stop without a fight, stand patiently at checks, wait its turn at jumps, and jump without refusals. To avoid a kicking incident, allow sufficient distance between horses. A horse prone to kicking should be kept to the rear and have a red ribbon in its tail. Always point your horse’s head toward hounds. Unless directed to do so by the Master of Fox Hounds, do not address or rate any hound.

Hounds ALWAYS have the right-of-way in the field. It is the rider's job to assure the hounds can do theirs.

Hunting tack is not fancy. Bridles should be flat without embellished decorations. A standing martingale and breastplate is appropriate if needed. The bit should assure sufficient braking power. Fitted cloth or natural sheepskin saddle pads are preferred. Square pads or sheets, colors, and sleight decorative elements are acceptable at HFH. The saddle should be English style; brown leather, synthetic materials or black leather saddles are acceptable to Harvard Fox Hounds.

While many hunts only allow Staff to carry a hunt whip, the HFH Master of Fox Hounds encourages it. There are times in the fields where, at his request, a rider in the field may be asked to aid in gathering or retaining of hounds or it is a handy tool for the opening and closing of a gate while mounted should the need arise.

The Staff has duties from before the hunt until returning the hounds to the kennel. Please understand if they are unable to socialize with you at times.

A call of "Staff please" or "Ware staff" requires that you quickly leave room for the staff member to pass safely. When a staff member passes by, turn your horse toward the staff member.

Listen if the Staff member gives instructions and try to follow them as quickly and safely as possible.

Long or short hair on either a lady or a gentleman should be restrained within a hairnet. If a rider’s hair is long enough to be braided and can then be tucked down into the back of the coat, this is also acceptable. However, long hair, hanging out loosely from beneath the helmet, braids, pigtails, or ponytails are not proper. Hair clips and ribbons are also not appropriate but, then again, there should be no hair showing to which they could be attached.

Only a minimal amount of jewelry, if any, should be worn in the hunt field and what is worn should be plain. Dangling earrings or loose bracelets that could catch on tree branches or other objects should not be worn.

Fragrances should not be used on a hunting day. This applies to both ladies and gentlemen.

Riders may carry either a pocket flask or a bayonet-style flask in a holster case affixed to the front of the saddle. Riders may carry a sandwich box affixed to the back right side of the saddle.

Passing and Partaking of the flask is a long standing fox hunting tradition

Although the hunt is likely to be canceled if heavy rain is falling, there are occasional days when the sport goes forth even in a rain. On such days, the masters may choose to allow hunting coats to be replaced or enhanced with rain gear. If so, the jacket should be a rubber lined Macintosh (or Mackintosh) with leg straps, a Barbour, or similar style, preferably in a black, tan, green or brown color, and should not have loose pieces that flap in the wind. All other elements of attire remain the same as on any other hunting day unless designated by the Field Master or exception granted. .

It is correct to braid manes for formal days such as Opening Meet and Blessing of the Hounds. It is also proper, although not required, to braid for joint meets. If a horse’s mane is braided, it should be done neatly. An unbraided mane that is nicely trimmed is preferable to a bad braiding job.

Upon arrival it is proper to greet the Masters before the start of the hunt and to announce your presence to the Field Master. If you have brought a guest, the Field Master must be informed, the guest introduced, and the capping fee paid. Guests must have a signed liability waiver.

Order In The Field:

The generally observed custom is that members with their colors and then those awarded buttons are entitled to ride in front of the field behind the Master. This may be referred to as the right of colors or a privilege awarded to those members who have not only been consistent and knowledgeable foxhunters but who have worked diligently in the interest of the hunt for some time. This is not to say that a hunting member who has not yet been awarded colors cannot ride in the front with those who have but suggests that in the case of a chase the regular hunting member should give way to a member wearing colors. However, if the member with colors does not keep up with the pack during a chase, then the regular member has the right to pass in an open field and move to the front behind the Master provided he or she does not interfere with or impede the member with colors or, for that matter, any other rider. Courtesy and safety to all other riders is always foremost in our thinking.

If a horse refuses a jump, the rider should move to the back of the line before making another attempt.

Given the social nature of this sport, there is always a temptation to engage in conversation, a practice referred to as “coffeehousing.” It should, however, be avoided at most times. Chatting among the field can distract the Huntsman and Masters, thus detracting from the integrity of the sport. This does not mean absolute silence must be observed at all times but attention should be paid to the focus of the day’s activity—i.e., hound work. Attempts to engage the Field Master in conversation, particularly when he or she is trying to monitor hound work, should be especially avoided.

Ideally, everyone should come out with the intention of remaining for the duration of the hunt, no matter how long the day lasts. However, situations do arise—lost shoe, lame horse, rider injury, illness, etc.—that necessitates heading back in while the hunt is still in progress. When such a situation occurs, word should be passed to the master or field secretary so that he or she is aware of the departure. The withdrawing member should also ask the master or secretary for directions back to the meet, even if he or she knows the territory, to avoid interfering with the work of hounds. Where possible, the return route should use hard-surfaced roads.

The hunt waits for no one. Hounds move off at the appointed time and hunting begins immediately. Certainly, the unforeseen impediment befalls us all eventually but every effort should be made to arrive at the meet with sufficient time to be mounted and ready to move off with the field. If something has occurred to cause sufficient delay, if may simply be best to forego the day’s sport rather than risk ruining it for others. If you do arrive late and the hunt has begun, do not ride into the country to find the field. Wait at the meet and, if the hunt comes back that way, you may join in. Once you have joined up with the field, the first obligation is to apologize to the Master for your tardiness.

It should be noted that the Masters are empowered to excuse riders from the field if a sufficiently egregious transgression has been committed. Riding with the hunt is a privilege, not a right. The authority does rest with masters to send a rider home if he or she deems such action is necessary. A faithful observance of proper etiquette is the surest way to avoid such an unpleasant occurrence.