Hunter trial tests and turnout questions

Retired fox hunter here looking forward to 1st hunter trial with a new hunt. A few questions on the finer points of tests and turnout to help us have a successful outing.

  1. For the lead over fence, assuming you drop one side of the rail, do you drop it so the horse is on the high or low side of the rail when led over? Do you lead over at the walk, or jog and have them trot over? Are you ideally supposed to jump at the same time with the person at the horse shoulder, or does the person go first and horse follows behind? Do you circle and replace the rail on the backside?
  2. Could someone walk me through gate opening/closing in detail? I’m sure there is a proper procedure that the judges are hoping to see. Barging though and grasping wildly are probably not it. My hunt didn’t have gates so I’ve never had the chance to observe an expert.
  3. Do you carry a hunt whip on course? I was planing to carry the handle (assuming it comes into play with the gate?) but take off the lash. Is this correct?
  4. Do you wear your sandwich case/flask as you would for hunting?
    Thanks in advance, I’m feeling rather nervous even though it seems fairly straightforward.

I’ll take a stab at this, though I haven’t participated in a hunter trial in ages.

1.) Drop one side of the rail, lead over the low side. Practice this beforehand and use whatever gait works best for you and your horse. I would want the horse at my shoulder; I wouldn’t want to be on one side of the fence and the horses on the other. Yes, replace the rail
2.) Depends on the kind of gate. If it’s a hand gate, best presentation is to ride up parallel to the gate, halt, open gate, turn on the forehand, walk though, turn around, push gate closed, walk up and fasten. I’ve seen a wide, Texas type gate used, and that’s really interesting - any horse that’s been turned out in hot wire does not want to get close! But still, ride up parallel, unfasten, walk forward, drop or place wire handle, walk through. Reverse procedure on other side.
3.) Do you carry a hunt whip out hunting? If so, carry one on course. If you routinely carry one hunting, go ahead and leave the thong and lash on. If you don’t carry one hunting, don’t carry one on course.
4.) See above.

Hope some other folks with more recent experience chime in too!