The first step is to find out where and when the meet is – details of which can be found in our listing.
The scheduled time of the meet is when hounds and those following on horses should arrive by. Some people turn up well in advance and others arrive bang on time but it is etiquette to be prompt.
For those showing their support on foot it is a good idea to arrive in plenty of time too, to ensure you don’t miss hounds and horses arriving.
With large numbers of supporters attending most Boxing Day meets it may mean you are unable to park right at the meet so leave enough time to ensure you are not rushing. Sometimes the police or local councils operate one-way systems or there are road closures in the immediate vicinity around the meet so make allowances for those possibilities too.
Boxing Day meets are rarely cancelled because of inclement weather. Even if it is frosty or snowy, hounds tend to meet at the scheduled time although it is more likely it will be without people mounted on horses. If the ground conditions are unsuitable for hunting after the meet, hounds will be loaded up and return to kennels afterwards.
What to wear
It is advisable to wear suitable outdoor clothing and footwear – you are likely to be standing around at the meet for a while and most meets are in fields rather than on hard-standing so the chances are it will be muddy or wet underfoot.
Are dogs allowed?
You are usually able to take your own dogs along but please make sure they stay on a lead and are unable to slip their collars otherwise it might be difficult to relocate them among the crowds. If they are unused to large numbers of people including children, other dogs and of course horses then it might be wise to leave them at home.
What to expect
Boxing Day tends to be a very sociable day so the meets can last up to about half an hour. During this time you may be offered a warming drink or some nibbles.
Some of the more inquisitive hounds may mingle amongst the crowd but generally they are all kept up together with the huntsman and a member of staff known as the whipper-in. You are welcome to stroke the hounds and horses although of course it’s best to approach horses from the front rather than from behind for obvious safety reasons.
When it is almost time for the hounds to move off there may well be a speech made by a joint-master or other hunt representative. The acoustics are not always ideal however generally the speaker will thank everybody for attending and showing their support. They may also thank the meet host and the land owners for allowing the hunt to cross their land.
You may hear the phrase “Hounds please” which is a polite request for everyone to clear the way to allow hounds and horses to leave the meet safely.
Once the hounds and any mounted followers – known as “the field” – have left the meet, some people continue to socialise on foot although many will find their vehicles and head home while others will try to follow and watch.
If you do decide to follow, please try to keep roads clear when slowing down or parking up to watch to ensure you don’t inconvenience those that aren’t following the hounds.
Enjoy your day and if you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact the Countryside Alliance at [email protected].