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The Lathom Remount Depot of World War I

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The horror of the First World War is much on the minds of our English sporting friends this summer as the world marks the hundredth anniversary of that conflict. Foxhunters there are especially moved in remembering the terrible toll taken on the world’s equine population in numbers unequaled before or since.

Ron Black in Cumbria, England—a frequent contributor to Foxhunting Life—has published a ninety-seven-page collection of research, memoir, and poetry (Will Ogilvie included!) about the horses and mules that served, which he has made available to FHL readers via download.

When the supply of British horses and mules was exhausted, animals were shipped from the United States, Canada, and Australia. Ron tells the story of how they were purchased, crossed the ocean, trained, moved overland to battle, and what happened to the survivors.

Click to download The Lathom Remount Depot of World War I by Ron Black. The download is free, but Ron asks downloaders to make a small donation to any equine charity.

Posted September 1, 2014


Edward Troye, Harry Worcester Smith, and Alexander Mackay-Smith: Archival Research Connects the Dots

troye.clipEdward Troye gained artisitic renown painting America's greatest bloodstock of the mid-twentieth century. / 1872 photographic print, National Sporting Library and Museum Archives, Harry Worcester Smith papersFoxhunting Life is proud to publish this preview of the stories behind one of the most important exhibition of the works of Edward Troye ever mounted.

It is said that “traces of the soul can be found in boxes in the archives.” Where letters, scrapbooks, newspaper clippings, jotted notes-to-self and snippets of individuals’ lives are kept, distractions lurk and surprises are inevitable. And patience is rewarded with a story.

The archives of the National Sporting Library and Museum in Middleburg, Virginia contain the story of three men whose lives spanned two centuries, whose interests overlapped, and whose souls were kindred: Artist Edward Troye (1808-1874), the indomitable sportsman Harry Worcester Smith (1864-1945), and the scholar, chronicler, and author Alexander Mackay-Smith (1903-1998).


The Stable Yard Is Silent

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The hundredth anniversary this summer of the First World War has reminded all of us of that terrible conflict. In England, James Barclay, ex-MFH, tossed and turned through the early morning hours one night this month. Thoughts of the war, the carnage that took its toll on his family members and many horses, and what those years meant to a way of life that was so much a part of the Barclay family ran through his head. He got out of bed, sat down, and wrote this poem. At 6:30 am he finished writing. Twenty minutes later the South Wold Foxhounds came up his drive on summer exercise, making his world right once again.

The stable yard is silent, no equine friends, no ears twitching over the doors.
Where have they gone? They have gone to Europe to fight a war.
Will they be back to graze the summer pastures green?
Will they be back to see the autumn mist and hear hounds running?
Will they be back to enjoy the fifty minutes across the grass?

They and their Masters have gone to defend our freedoms.
In mud and wire they toil, no end in sight,
But the thought of hounds running and their cry deep in their veins,
Make our horse and human friends dream, dream of
A cold winter’s night, hacking homewards with the moon up high.

Ask the Experts

The Foxes of England

greyhound fox.nyplGreyhound Fox  /  Courtesy New York Public LibraryFoxhunting Life reader Janet Clarke asks, “I was told a long time ago that there are different types of foxes in the UK. Is this true?”

We consulted Nigel Peel, MFH and huntsman of the North Cotswold Foxhounds, and Martin Scott, ex-MFH of the Vale of the White Horse. Both men are highly regarded foxhound breeders and judges of foxhounds in England and serve as members of FHL’s Panel of Experts. Their answers were not only surprising, but it appears that the story may be yet unfolding.


Drop Your Hands

tom firrTom Firr, huntsman to the Quorn, nineteenth centuryTom Firr indulged in a very big bit
(Always in pictures he’s seen using it),
“Plenty of iron; you don’t need to use it.”
“Yes, Firr—quite right, but so many abuse it!”

A light-mouthed puller’s a difficult horse,
A short-cheeked bridle will suit him, of course;
A snaffle’s the bit for a horse that takes hold
(At least, it’s all right if the rider is bold).

The acme of bliss when you’re hunting the fox
Is riding a horse who will jump off his hocks;
While quite the worst feeling, and one to be banned,
Is a horse who will only jump off his fore-hand.

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