A second horseman should always be a steady, sober, trustworthy man, a good horseman, smart in appearance, sharp and quick-witted, should always think what he is about and keep his head on his shoulders.
He has special care of the horses which are to hunt that day, and in company with the head groom and the farrier, see that the shoeing is all right, that the horses are properly turned out, and that the saddles, bridles, etc., are properly put on, and the girths and safety bars in safe and proper order.
He should never be behindhand, but start in good time. Five-and-a-half miles an hour is about the best pace to travel at. He must not dawdle along, and on no account whatever stop at a Public House on his way to cover. Nothing looks so disreputable as a second horseman drinking on the road.
In going to the meet and returning home he should avoid riding over seeds and wheat and doing other damage, and on no account pass through or disturb a covert likely to be drawn that day.
If a horse should fall lame, and he cannot detect on which leg, he should trot the horse, which will most likely toss up his head as he puts down the sore leg or foot.
On arrival at the meet, he should get his horses into a stable or stackyard, get them to stale, examine their feet all round, get them tidy, and see to their girths, etc.
He should keep a look-out for his master, so that on his arrival he may not have to look for his horses.
He should communicate any instructions the groom may have given him regarding the horses, especially if his master has been away from home, and tell him how the horses came to covert, if they coughed, etc.
He must remember that the master of the hounds is supreme in the field, and obey any instructions he may receive from him.
He should remain with the hunt second horsemen, and keep to the bridle roads and lanes, carefully shut all gates behind him, and never jump his horse if he can avoid doing so.
He should come up to his master when a fox is killed or run to ground, taking care never to ride into the pack. He should keep his eye on his master at a check, if the second horses happen to be near enough, that he may see if he is wanted. By keeping with the hunt second horses he will do less damage and his master will find him more readily.
He should learn the country thoroughly, the names of the villages and coverts and their positions, the roads, lanes and bridle roads. Experience will soon teach him the probable run of a fox, and let him remember that a fox which has once turned down wind rarely turns up wind again.
He should bear in mind the three following rules, though they apply more especially to hunt servants than private second horsemen.
1. If he sees the hunted fox and the hounds are on the line and in sight, he should stand still and wave his hat. If he lays down, let him be.
2. If they are at a check and well within sight and hearing, he should holloa and wave his hat ; he must take care not to ride the fox, but note exactly where he saw him and in which direction he was travelling.
3. If they are too far off to hear his holloa, he should carefully mark the place and go at once as quickly as possible and tell the huntsman.
He should get his horse to stale whenever he can.
Never give a heated horse cold water or let him stand in the cold ; it is apt to bring on colic.
When he is sent home when hounds are drawing a covert, he should wait till they have gone away for fear of heading the fox or doing other mischief.
He should travel home at an easy pace, not slow enough to allow a horse to get a chill, nor fast enough to tire him, but he must not dawdle.
He should ride on the grass by the side of the road when it is not deep. If it is deep, then, on the side of the road. If the horse is tired, the road itself is the best; anyhow, always keep on the road when it gets dark.
If he puts his horse up at an inn, he should throw the rug over him inside out, for fear of ringworm, etc.
When he puts a horse up, he should loosen his girths, take off his bridle, give him some chill water, that is very lukewarm water ; that is better than gruel, which is apt to turn sour, and give him a bit of good old sweet hay. On no account give him hay which is at all musty. A few handfuls of good oats are better than that. Pick up his feet and examine them all round and get him to stale. Some horses stale better after having had their drink. Ten or fifteen minutes is quite long enough to stop.
On arrival home report at once to the groom what the horses have done, whether it has been a hard day or not : if they have coughed or fallen lame, hit themselves or been down, and if he has put up, and where.