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Foxhunting Life with Horse and Hound

 

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Literature

The Hare that Must Be Fox

A third condensed installment from We Go Foxhunting Abroad: A First Venture with the Irish Banks and English Downs, Charles D. Lanier’s 1924 account of a father-daughter sporting trip to Ireland and England.

irish hareIrish hare

We decided that our new sensation would be a trial of Irish harehunting, so to Watergrass Hill we flivvered, to the meet of Mr. Robert Hall’s private pack of harriers. The Master was a slender, wiry, grey-haired man of seventy years, aquiline of countenance, with a singularly winning eye and smile under his velvet cap. He and his whipper-in were, of course, in green, and a dozen or so of the field of thirty or forty also wore the correct harrier colors.

Mr. Hall had the pride of an Irishman and a sportsman in his fifteen couple of huge Kerry “beagles,” and I think it would have been a hard blow to him if luck had been denied us that day. But it turned out to be a red letter day; I think we enjoyed having it so even more for the intense satisfaction it gave our enthusiastic host than for the sport intrinsically, which was of the very best and a revelation to us, who had not before followed a strong South Irish hare.

Literature

Sheep May Safely Graze

sheep may safely graze.clancySheep May Safely Graze, L.M. Clancy, 2015, 423 pages, paperback, $14.95, available at AmazonIrish sporting artist Liam Clancy has expanded his repertoire. He’s written a novel.

While foxhunting, prodigious drinking, and sex are well-handled ingredients of Clancy’s story—which takes place mostly in Ireland and England—those ingredients are only a framework upon which hangs a larger story of people, relationships, and the times. Our times: the Millennial, hunt sabs, the pathos of the hoof and mouth epidemic, the runup to the hunting ban, the dagger thrust into the heart of the English countryside by a government focused elsewhere.

If the publishing industry were not in turmoil, as it has been for the last decade at least, and if publishers would give first-time novelists half-a-chance, Clancy’s book could well replace titles by authors with household names that now occupy undeserved spots on the Best Seller lists. His dialog crackles, and his characters are wholly-formed individuals that you will care greatly for. Think of Maeve Binchy on steroids.

Norm Fine's Blog

Fanciful Fibs and Other Sins

norman.karen.farnleyPhoto by Karen MyersAs Pogo once famously said, “We have met the enemy, and he is us.” I think of that bit of comic strip philosophy whenever I hear foxhunters attempt to con the public or distance themselves from the truth about our sport.

It’s my belief that we should be honest and truthful when discussing our sport. Anti-hunting proponents comprise a small, vocal majority with fixed ideologies, and we will not change their minds no matter what we say. We must, however, be perceived as credible and trustworthy to the vast majority of citizens who have no preconceived or strongly-held notions of hunting. If they think we’re trying to bamboozle them, we’ll lose them. People aren’t stupid.

The challenge is, then, to portray our sport in the most favorable light possible to the non-hunting public, without resorting to the sins of fanciful fibs, hanging other hunters out to dry, or syrup-speak. Some examples:

Art

Will Ersland's Style

Hunters MoonHunters Moon by Will Ersland, courtesy of Cindy Piper, MFH, Long Lake Hounds (MN) Someone once told Will Ersland, “The horses and people in your paintings have great action—even when they’re standing still!"

Ersland sees himself as a visual journalist. “My paintings record a moment in time,” he says. “They are cropped the way I see the action, and each brush stroke is laid down with confidence and purpose based on my academic background and decades of drawing and painting.”

Ersland’s use of short, flat, planar brush strokes to highlight rounded shapes strikes me as an effective and unique element of his style.

“My style is dictated by the medium—acrylic paints—which dry very fast,” he explained. “I don’t even try to blend them. Instead, I build up form by starting with the darkest values and layering on the lightest values, usually following the form of the object with my brush strokes.

Literature

The Second Whip

second whip.gilbert hollidayIllustration by Gilbert HollidayOver he goes, with a crash and a rattle,
   Hound couples clinking, ’gainst saddle and thigh;
Over he goes, and the light of the battle
   Gleams like a spark in his eager young eye.

Twigs of the hawthorn fly backward together,
   Meeting again with an ominous swish;
Over he goes, landing light as a feather,
   One with his horse and quick as you’d wish.

Kinds and condition of fences don’t matter,
   Straight as a ramrod he rides at them all;
Over he goes with a bang and a clatter,
   Knocking loose stones off the top of the wall.

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