Foxhunting Life with Horse and Hound


By the Way

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Maryland Hunt Cup 2015: One for the Books

mhc15.fence3.leesFence 3: (l-r) Imperial Way (Bethany Baumgardner up) about to jump; Raven’s Choice (Mark Beecher up) 1st; Almarmooq (James Slater up); Guts For Garters (Jody Petty up) 2nd; Twill Do (James Stierhoff up) / Douglas Lees photo

Ten minutes after crossing the wire first, a half length in front of Raven’s Choice, Imperial Way was disqualified. His jockey Bethany Baumgardner failed to weigh out with all the weight she carried into the race. Somewhere, during the course of the race, a twenty-pound weight slipped out of her saddle pad—a first in the 119 runnings of the Maryland Hunt Cup.

It was a double disappointment for Imperial Way, who was beat by just a nose in last year’s race by Stewart Strawbridge’s Guts for Garters. The odds-on favorite this year, Guts for Garters was trying for his second consecutive win, but placed second to Raven's Choice by six lengths after the disqualification.

Our Hunting World

John Woodcock Graves: John Peel's Boswell

john woodcock gravesJohn Woodcock Graves (1795--1886)We’re all familiar with “John Peel,” surely the most well-known foxhunting song of all time. We’re perhaps less familiar with the songwriter, John Woodcock Graves, who turns out to be a most fascinating and unpredictable character—rogue some might say—in his own way. We owe this insight into Graves' life to our Cumbrian friend, Ron Black, who sent us excerpts from A Ramblers Notebook at the English Lakes (H. D Rawnsley, 1902).

In an earlier article, Foxhunting Life describes that night in 1829 when John Woodcock Graves sat in his parlor in Caldbeck, in England’s Lake District, with John Peel. Peel was a farmer, horse dealer, and foxhunter whose hounds were highly celebrated by the local sheep farmers. From the adjoining room, Graves overheard his son's granny singing an ancient Irish melody to the child. Graves took that old melody and wrote a new set of lyrics to honor his friend, John Peel.

"I sang it to poor Peel," Graves wrote, "who smiled through a stream of tears which fell down his manly cheeks, and I well remember saying to him in a joking style, ‘By Jove, Peel, you’ll be sung when we’re both run to earth!'’

Just a few years after that cozy night, however, Graves became embroiled in a violent altercation with an employee, the aftermath of which induced him to leave England forever. His adventures were just beginning.

Norm Fine's Blog

How to Find Our Old Articles

nodh.klmSince we posted our first article on Foxhunting Life five years ago, more than five hundred articles have been published. And they’re all still here...easily recovered.

When new articles are posted to the top of the Home Page, the older material is pushed down. The five most recent articles are always visible on the Home Page; the titles of the six articles published before those five articles are shown at the bottom of the Home Page; and the hundreds of articles that preceded those eleven are still available and recoverable.

There are four ways to find an old article: the Search function, the Full Article List, the Hunt Club Pages, or by Category.

Hunt Reports

A Cowboy in County Clare

cowboy hunt1Kail Mantle from Montana: just like riding a bronc  /  Val Westover photo

Last year, while hunting with the Red Rock Hounds (NV), I met Renee and Kail Mantle from Big Sky Hounds in Three Forks, Montana. Kail gave us a bucking horse lesson one day before hunting. This Montana cowboy, who hunts in chaps and cowboy hat, had sat calmly to his horse bucking crazily above the sagebrush and had seriously impressed me.

When a group of these Western foxhunters invited me to accompany them to Ireland this year, I jumped at the chance. These were fun people---more than a little crazy, and I wondered if anyone had warned the Irish!

I also wondered if my companions knew what they were getting into. I had hunted the big Irish walls and hedges in 2000, and I came home with newfound respect for anyone who hunts regularly in Ireland. It is challenging country, and their version of foxhunting is an excuse to run and jump really big fences.


Tommy Hitchcock, Jr: Sportsman, War Hero

tommy hitchcock.polo2May 8, 2015 will mark the seventieth anniversary of V-E Day, Victory in Europe, the end of the Nazi menace. It’s a propitious time to remember a foxhunting sportsman named Tommy Hitchcock, Jr.

Most Foxhunting Life readers are familiar with his name. Born in Aiken, South Carolina, Hitchcock was an all-around sportsman, a foxhunter, and perhaps the greatest American polo player of all time. A ten-goal player by age twenty-two, Hitchcock led the U.S. team to their first victory in the 1921 International Polo Cup. He followed that feat by leading four teams to U.S. National Open Championships. In 1939, after the death of his mother, Louise Eustis Hitchcock, MFH of the Aiken Hounds, Tommy and his sister Helen founded what is know today as the Hitchcock Woods Foundation in Aiken—a magnificent gift to subsequent generations of horsemen and women from all across North America.

Perhaps less known, however, is the singular role that Hitchcock played in the winning of World War II. If not for Hitchcock, the date June 6, 1944 would most likely not be known to history as D-Day. The invasion of the European mainland would have necessarily been postponed. And if it hadn’t, thousands more Allied soldiers would have been slaughtered on the beaches by the German Air Force.

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