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For those of you who have visited a hunt and hired a horse, can you talk to me about your experience?

I’m looking to do a few hunt trips next year while I’m horseless at home, and have a few “come visit” standing offers throughout the country. As eager as I am to take them up on it, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little nervous to hop in the saddle of a strange horse and try not to make a fool of myself.

Hoping some of you can share your experiences and knock me out of my imposter syndrome. Here at home, I ride young, green horses all the time (including my own, see post history lol) but still have an awful voice in the back of my head that makes me reluctant to make a trip in a new hunt territory.

So would love to hear from all you COTH hunters about what it was like for you to visit acquaintances who’ve invited you to hunt and hunts you’ve hired a horse for.

COTH’s article about exactly this:


I know all three businesses and they are absolutely reputable and have lovely hunt horses.

I got back into hunting five years ago riding a hireling at Betsy Parker’s Hunter’s Rest. I highly recommend her. She is also the third filight field master at Old Dominion Hounds, and she tailors the route and speed of the third flight to guests and whoever else is riding third that day. Heather Heider and Jennifer Taylor are also excellent, I just have more first hand experience with Hunter’s Rest. The joy of stepping onto a made, schooled, fit, perfectly behaved hunter can not be overstated. It allows you to truly pay attention to the countryside and the sport because you don’t have to worry about your horse.

Re: Imposter syndrome. Do you ride out cross country at home? Are you comfortable riding out with a group? Then all you need to do is familiarize yourself with some hunting etiquette and you’re good to go.

If you are worried about clothes and turnout, most hunts have relaxed expectations for guests and new foxhunters. No one expects you to spend $1000+ on hunting kit just to try it the first time. My hunt’s requirements for guests are any tall boots that are black; reasonable half chaps with paddocks are fine. Any riding coat as long as it’s a dark, conservative color. Safety headgear, always, and black wo bling is preferred. A stock tie is a nice, cheap upgrade, but a collared show shirt is acceptable. We want people to come out, have a blast and fall in love with the sport, not worry about their clothes.

The people who hire hunt horses usually have a lending closet of appropriate clothes to boot.
I bought my tweed coat at a consignment shop for $40; I found my black melton on ebay for $100.

Please ask me any other questions you might have! I want you to go hunting and have a fabulous time!


hi! since I don’t have my own horse, I pretty much exclusively hire horses to hunt (in the ny/new england area). i’m sure you’ll be perfectly fine!! most of the horses are very used to lots of strange people on them – like mcgurk said, the joy of a totally made hunt horse is so incredible.

i’ve found it really fun to get to know new horses over the course of a hunt, have a variety of territory, and meet new people. i have always checked with friends or the hunt secretary to make sure i’m dressed correctly, but the hunts are lenient around here since they want young people to join! i’m sure your friends can steer you in the right direction.

re: the imposter syndrome… i tend to remind myself that if i so choose, i would just never see any of these people again! so who cares if i make a fool of myself – they’ll forget me in a week!


I do ride out on cross country, in a group, and have hunted before – typically on my nutty young horse. So I know I can handle it it’s just like AHHH WHAT IF THEY SEE ME AS I SEE ME y’know?


Are we the same person? It feels like we’re the same person… I love this approach! Jealous of your New England location, I miss it dearly

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The advantage of hiring a horse is that, as well as being a made hunter, they know the country and how to handle the terrain. They are real professionals. That is a comfort in new country and one less thing to worry about.

Imposter? Everyone starts somewhere and every one of us has made a fool of ourselves at some point. Given the nature of foxhunting, muddling through is quite sufficient for a good day in the company of many other fools also muddling along. Foxhunting is highly unpredictable.

A foxhunting tour is a fantastic way to see the country, to get beneath the surface, plug into the local culture and to do so in the company of people with interests in common. Do it and have a wonderful time.


I’m so glad it’s helpful!! Aggressively telling myself “NO ONE CARES!!” is usually the ticket for me :slight_smile:

It’s so delightful here right now – the leaves have turned and the colors are stunning! Hope you can get up here to hunt – I have some great hired horses to recommend, lol!

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My relative did, for a hunt in Ramsey New Jersey. She however took maybe 3 lessons on the horse first. She had a blast on the hunt and felt very safe. But she said the first time she galloped downhill (on the farm’s training ground) was scary.

@coffeehag Oh girl. Trust me, everybody else is just trying to stay on/keep up/duck from overhead branches/avoid holes/not run into the horse in front/not worry about that trappy creek crossing coming up (do I stay to the right or the left going up the bank…I can’t remember!!) to even notice if you are being wildly foolish or sloppy or your coat is the not-quite-right color and cut of the season. Go and have a blast!

I’ve recently started hunting again after a 20-year hiatus to the show ring and it is much more fun now, as an older 50-something person who no longer cares about the side-eye judgy folks, than it ever was in my younger days when I was a much better and more polished rider.

Come back and tell us all about it!



I am a riding instructor and I teach a lot of foxhunters, people who also dabble in other disciplines and compete.

I try to tie everything we work on in lessons back to its utility in the hunt field or one of their chosen disciplines.

Sometimes they hunt right beside me.

I have said in lessons multiple times “What I teach is the ideal that we should strive for in order to be correct and effective. That doesn’t mean you’ll be able to achieve the ideal at all times hunting. So if I come upon you in the third or fourth hour hunting and you’re standing straight up in your irons, holding onto to the mane or neck strap, I’m going to mind my own business. I’m not the equitation police. I would appreciate the same consideration from you if the situation is reversed.”