Best way to be useful to a hunt - from the ground?
Due to financial, horse, and transportation restraints I am not able to be a riding member of a local hunt. I am an active part of the local horse community as a Pony Club Jt-DC and independent instructor but would like to become more involved with the hunt.
I purchased a baler from the huntsman/Jt-MFH and looked at one of the honorary Whipper-In's apartments - but otherwise have no direct people-connections to the hunt.
Any suggestions as to how to be *actually useful* to a hunt from the ground? I recognize there is not as much paperwork/planning involves as say, an organization that hosts multiple schooling shows a year. I also have the feeling most hunts work as a pretty tight and smooth ship - I do not want to ask them to "give me something to do" if it would actual hinder their efficiency.
Contact a master and offer your services as a volunteer? I'm not sure anyone is going to turn down help clearing trails, organizing social events, or whatever else member volunteers normally do in that club. Ours will also, for example, stage responsible nonriders with a car and radio at places where the hounds can most easily get on a busy road during hunts.
Do realize that not having the exerience of riding in hunts will somewhat limit your usefulness as an equine professional (such as helping to bridge the pony club/hunt gap) rather than a set of hands. That could be remedied, however, if some members need a horse exercised, etc. (as has been mentioned on threads here) and you could cap or even join as a member catch-riding. Your club might even have a reduced fee for equine professionals riding others' horses.
Other suggestions: Secretary might need help collecting cap fees and waivers before the hunt. You can bring food or set/clean up the hunt breakfast. Pass out drinks before/after the hunt or at checks. Stop traffic at road crossings. Also, if it's a drag hunt, I think there are more "on the ground logistics" you can help with like laying scent.
And of course, riders always need a set of hands from the ground back at the trailers just like at a PC rally. I've held many a horse while someone fixes their stock tie or goes for a last bathroom break. Have also been pressed into service asking other riders for some forgotten or broken piece of tack/attire.
Originally Posted by In_
I also have the feeling most hunts work as a pretty tight and smooth ship - I do not want to ask them to "give me something to do" if it would actual hinder their efficiency.
My hunt would eat you up with a spoon! We always need volunteers. Look into a social membership and then volunteer to serve on committees. There is a ton of non riding work that is needed behind the scenes and a willing pair of hands is always welcome.
Anyone who is willing to get involved and wants to learn is welcome at our hunt ! I don't know too many hunts that aren't looking for members. I agree with joining as a social member and learning the ropes. And if you're a good rider, there are usually extra horses available that need a good ride, so often there's even an opportunity to ride if you get to know the riders and they you.
The most fun volunteer task that there is infinite demand for at my club is walking hound puppies in the summer. Not that there is not plenty of demand for trail clearing and cooking and various other tasks too, but they seem more obviously like work.
As others of said, find somebody, introduce yourself, ask about social membership and volunteering. I'd be shocked if you were not very welcome. The usual model is somebody wants to ride and gets talked into volunteering. Somebody who arrives wanting to volunteer should be a breath of fresh air.
Great advice from all. Let us know how it works for you when you contact the Hunt.
Our folks who follow on foot are invaluable at the beginning and end of each Hunt. They open doors/tailgates for hounds to get out of the truck, they can grab an extra layer from a trailer or run and get gloves for a rider. At the end of the Hunt, they can help get hounds in the truck, hold the Huntsman's horse or just be there if anyone needs a hand. The jobs are small, but the foot followers are a huge addition to our Hunt. it's also great exercise!
My horse hasn't been hunt field ready this season. I have hunted a borrowed pony when I could but at other times I have gone to assist with the hounds as needed. It's been great fun this year to be involved in fundraising as well (we sold Beefalo burgers at local events/fairs). I agree with the just calling and asking! You never know what they could need you for! Never mind it's fun to hunt by foot as well and watch the hounds work!
Oh, there is plenty to do, and I've never known any hunt that would turn down a willing volunteer! Many suggestions have already been offered. There are also lots of chores at the kennels where a hand might be welcome. And depending on your strengths/preferences, help with mailings or emails, newsletters, fundraisers, and more. Don't be shy, call the Master! I would also add- in addition to asking the Master about getting those Pony Clubbers out hunting, that you might invite Master and/or huntsman to attend a pony club meeting and give them a talk on hunting (maybe at a venue over the summer where a hound or two could be brought for show and tell).