Fox Hunting Life with Horse and Hound

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Here you will find reviews of, selections from, and commentaries concerning books, many of which don't even appear on Amazon's radar. But what goldmines for the literate foxhunter!

Foxhunting In the Streets of Mayfair, And Other International Issues

Book Review by Martha A. Woodham

fox.gardnerFox, Anthony Gardner, Ardleevan Press, 2016, 313 pages. Available through Amazon.Set in a dystopian future, Fox by Anthony Gardner is a bizarrely imaginative look at the topical but unrelated themes of high tech government intrusion, politicians running amok, pandemic disease, and I don’t know what else. Oh, yes, foxhunting, too, but I think it all means England had better lift the ban on foxhunting before things really get out of hand.

Gardner, an Irish author and journalist based in London, takes the reader on a cheeky romp through the English countryside as good guys and bad guys chase each other in search of…well, a lot of things.

A deadly disease, fox flu, is ravaging Europe and must be prevented from reaching Great Britain. Foxhunters like Frank Smith have been enlisted to kill all foxes, including those who have made English cities home. Frank, MFH and huntsman of the new Hyde Park Hunt, spends his early morning hours galloping after hounds down dark London streets in a new urban version of foxhunting.

Foxhunter/Lawyer/Archaeologist Channels Ogden Nash

norfolk hunt at noel morss estate.needhamA Norfolk Hunt meet at the Noel Morss estate, Needham, Massachusetts, circa mid-twentieth century

The roster of members who in 1898 organized the Norfolk Hunt (MA) near Boston, and rode as members through the early years of the twentieth century, boasts well-known family names synonymous with American commerce, finance, and government. One member, active through the middle of the twentieth century, perhaps lesser known but every bit as interesting, was Noel Morss. (His grandfather founded the Simplex Wire and Cable Company.)

Morss served as treasurer then president of the Norfolk Hunt from 1951 to 1964. He’d graduated from Harvard Law School, practiced law in Boston, and was also highly regarded as an amateur anthropologist and archaeologist. His discoveries made while leading Peabody Museum archaeological expeditions to Arizona and Utah and his scholarship that followed were of such caliber that he was appointed to a committee chairmanship at both Harvard and the Peabody.

Less recognized perhaps was his remarkable talent for writing humorous and whimsical verse. Here’s one that should resonate with anyone who’s ever taken riding lessons. Without attribution, one would readily assume it to be from the pen of Ogden Nash.

The Owl and the Earl

Book Review by Martha A. Woodham

the owl and the earlThe Owl and the Earl, Paul Smith, Silverwood Books, 2014, Paperback, 198 pages, $14.95As the newest Master of the Blankshire Hunt, our hero of The Owl and the Earl, Hector Griffiths, inadvertently steps into what is known as a “sticky wicket” when he is tapped to raise funds to build a new stable for the hunt.

Threatening to sabotage the fund raising is a rivalry between old money and new. The family of Lord Blankshire, the Hon. Alexander Bichester, came over with the Normans. By comparison, the fifth Earl of Melsham, aka “Sid,” is practically nouveau riche. Sid, known locally—but only behind his back—as “the belted earl,” likes to stick it to Alex every chance he gets, leaving poor Alex, a gentle soul, flummoxed, frustrated, and a bit peeved.

The Whip

the whip.lionel edwardsIllustration by Lionel Edwards

As, still as a statue, he sits on his horse,
    Watching and waiting,
Or rounding up stragglers behind in the gorse,
    Cursing and rating,
He’s always the same, hard-bitten and game.

The voice of a hound, or the click of a hoof
    Tell him what’s doing,
He knows, on the instant, alert and aloof,
    All that’s brewing;
Lean-visaged and tanned, he’s always at hand.