Fox Hunting Life with Horse and Hound

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Every sport has its downside. Consider some of the older, retired NFL players—hobbling about in a fog of multiple concussions. What about foxhunters? Most of us have had our share of concussions and fractures, too. Now comes this hunt report from a retired Master of Foxhounds. Is this what we have to look forward to? He claims his story is tongue-in-cheek. Whatever. But I wouldn’t believe a word of it. -ED

derek french packThe pack  /  Alastair Strachan photo
This season’s armadillo hunting has started with a bang. There’s plenty of quarry as the local pack of coyotes has moved away. Lots of rabbits on the golf course is another sign that the coyotes have taken a hike. However, in the wee hours of the night a week ago, I did hear a strange howl out there on the fourth fairway of the golf course.

The local radio has been reporting that Florida panthers (no, not the sports team) have moved north of the Caloosahatchee River for the first time. Perhaps it is a coincidence, but a black Labrador and a house cat have been reported missing—another good reason to walk out our pack of Jack Russells in daylight hours.

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marjolaine botsfordMarj Botsford would winter the hunt's puppies again, but do it differently!A few years ago, the Ottawa Valley Hunt (ON) huntsman at the time, Mr. Adrian Quick, made a request for volunteer families interested in being sponsors for hound puppies over the winter. My husband and I volunteered to take on two puppies. We are animal lovers and were between canines at the time.

In late November, the puppies arrived—Hamish and Hawkesbury. They were about six months old. Being familiar with family dogs and not hounds, we asked Adrian if there was anything in particular that we should know about foxhounds. His advice was to feed them lots of proteins. We knew that hounds are working animals and not family pets so we prepared a stall in the barn for them. Feeding proteins was not a problem as my brother has a dairy farm and a side business selling beef; therefore we had access to all the organ meat the hounds needed.

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 farquhar trophy denyaCanadian Grand Champion Farquhar with (l–r) Apprentice Judge Katherine Selby, huntsman, Green Mountain Hounds (VT); Judge Dr. Jon Moody, MFH, Mooreland Hunt (AL); Toronto and North York huntsman John Harrison; Mrs. Alice Tyacke; and Judge Richard Tyacke, MFH and huntsman, Sir Watkin Williams-Wynn’s (UK). /  Denya Massey photo

Toronto and North York Farquhar 2014 was judged Grand Champion of Show at the Canadian Foxhound Show on Saturday, June 18, 2016. This was the third Grand Championship for the hunt in the last three years.

It has to be exceptionally gratifying to John Harrison, who returned as huntsman just two years ago, as all three grand champions go back to bloodlines he introduced to the pack during his earlier term as huntsman twenty years ago. Common to the pedigrees of all three, going back three generations, is Toronto and North York Crafty 1995 by their Freedom 1992.

In 1995, while Harrison was hunting the Toronto and North York pack in his first stint (1991 to 1996), he received a draft from the Berkeley (UK). One was Ballad 1987, who arrived in whelp to Berkeley Freshman 1984. Freshman was by Captain Ronnie Wallace’s Exmoor Freestone 1981. “Freestone is the key,” Harrison said.

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jordan hicks.tryon.erik olsenHuntsman Jordan Hicks moves from the Tryon Hounds to the Piedmont Fox Hounds / Erik Olsen photoAs we approach the close of the 2014/2015 foxhunting season, here’s our report on thirteen hunts that have either hired or will require a new huntsman for next season. We have already featured personal close-ups of three of the migrating huntsmen—Guy Allman, Brian Kiely, and Graham Buston—and we plan to bring you more.

We invite readers to fill us in on any moves that we’ve missed. We also invite you to send us a personal profile on any of these huntsmen that we can publish as a feature article. Or, just send us the information, and we’ll write the story. Use the “Contact Us” link that appears at the bottom of every screen to communicate directly with me, and be sure to include your phone number.

What follows is foxhunting’s version of musical chairs.

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macy the muleIt’s the ears, of course. At a walk, the long, warm-brown ears swing with metronomic precision forward and back, forward and back, to her hoof beats. At the trot, they stiffen forward, and at a check they go into neutral, except when something catches her attention. Then she points with them, head up.

Macy the foxhunting mule is an eight-year-old, 15.2-hand molly (or mare) with zebra markings on her hocks and knees, a dorsal stripe, and a cross on her withers. Her coarse dun hair and sparse tail are more similar to her donkey father than to her quarter horse mother.

She is owned by Suzanne Dow of Dundalk, Ontario, honorary whipper in of the Eglinton and Caledon Hunt and  MFH of the Bethany Hills-Frontenac Hunt from 1998 to 2004. Suzanne kindly offered to let me ride Macy for a Monday hunt recently, and I took her up on the offer. A landowner issue caused the hunt to be cancelled, but we did go out for a trail ride so I could sample the virtues of a mule. There are many.

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