On the track

Must be done

  • see that all party members are present, or accounted for, before moving off
  • make frequent checks (counts) to see that no member is left behind at any stage especially after stops or in difficult conditions—this is absolutely vital!
  • be constantly alert for any physical or psychological problems within the party
  • ask reliable party members to assist in this task
  • keep a watch on the weather—if bad weather seems imminent, take action to minimise its effects
  • constantly monitor your position and the route being followed—whether you or a deputy is actually leading
  • check the progress of all group members and coach where appropriate
  • respect the rights and the property of others.

Should be done

  • brief all starters on your plans, alternatives, safety procedures, emergency signalling, etc.
  • make introductions if necessary
  • demonstrate your interest in the welfare of every member of your party
  • encourage weak or inexperienced members
  • appoint a whip and, if desired, a person to actually lead (normally for a stated time or distance)
  • set limits on any racehorses—tell them clearly how far ahead they may go (if conditions permit this)
  • control the pace of the group—keep it slow at first, then settle on the speed of the slowest member
  • have regular rest periods—usually about 10 minutes in every hour
  • budget the group’s time and energy so that planned targets can be achieved
  • know how to handle problem people and people problems—the racer, the laggard, the aggressor, the bumbler, the sickie or the moaner
  • keep the party together as far as practicable—keep slow members well up in the line, not always dragging at the rear
  • if faced with difficulties, discuss the situation with other experienced members.

Might be done

  • point out features of interest along the way and stimulate discussion about the area or its features
  • demonstrate your map position, progress and planned route whenever appropriate
  • advise on water availability and suggest regular consumption during the day.