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!

Prophet of Paradise

prophet of paradiseProphet of Paradise, J. Harris Anderson, Blue Cardinal Press, 2013, paper, 483 pages, $22.95With foxhunting’s rites and traditions, its vestments and rich history, and even its own patron saint, it was but a short leap for author J. Harris Anderson to christen the chase as a religion in “The Prophet of Paradise,” his novel about sects and sex in the Virginia Hunt Country.

Ryman McKendrick, Joint-Master of Montfair Hunt, takes a tumble when his horse is startled by a large buck with something glowing in its rack. McKendrick is convinced that the illuminated object is a cross, and when the Montfair begins to see the best foxhunting—and sex—in Virginia, McKendrick is sure that he is the chosen one to spread the word about venery. He founds the Ancient and Venerable Church of Ars Venatica and is soon leading hunt members in prayer and preaching from “The Foxhunter’s Faith” before each meet.

To the Grey Hunter

paul brown.packandpaddockHere’s an excerpt from Tad Shepperd’s book of foxhunting and racing poems, Pack and Paddock, published by the Derrydale Press, New York, in 1938. Illustrated by Paul Brown, it was regarded by Derrydale founder Eugene Connett as one of his most handsome publications. Nine hundred-fifty copies were printed. The pages were gilt-edged on top and deckle-edged, untrimmed fore and bottom. The book was bound in red cloth with gilt lettering and boxed. Original price: $10.00.

Well did your sire know the feel
Of battling for the rail,
Of track dust flung from a driving heel,
Of thunder upon his tail!
Well did he know the cheering throng
That shivered the heaven's dome.
Well did he know the jockey's song,
In the desp'rate drive for home.
Well did he know the hail of mud,
The burn of the flaying goad.
For under his girth there pulsed the blood
Of the noble Roi Herode.

Aye, and well did your grandam know
The feel of the collar's brace,
The weight of the wagon, creaking, slow,
The tug of the leathern trace.
Wise your dam to the hazy sweep
Of the moorlands, lush and rich.
Well did she know the slide-and-leap
Of the Irish bank-and-ditch.
Wise to the horn's resounding skirl,
The hounds on the russet rogue.
Well did she know, "Hup-up, me gur-r-l!"
In a laughing Irish brogue.

Excerpt from "Reynard the Fox"

john masefieldThis joyful image of foxhounds arriving at the meet, conscious all the while of the attentive whipper-in, is an excerpt from the chapter, Hounds, in John Masefield’s epic poem, Reynard the Fox, written in 1919. John Masefield was Poet Laureate of the United Kingdom from 1930 to 1967. [Note: Dansey is the whipper-in, and Maroon is his horse.]

There was a general turn of faces,
The men and horses shifted places,
And around the corner came the hunt,
Those feathery things, the hounds, in front,
Intent, wise, dipping, trotting, straying,
Smiling at people, shoving, playing,
Nosing to children’s faces, waving
Their feathery sterns, and all behaving,
One eye to Dansey on Maroon.

Outrageous Fortune

outrageous fortuneOutrageous Fortune: Growing Up at Leeds Castle, Anthony Russell, St. Martin’s Press, New York, 2013, 306 pages, Illustrated, $26.99Imagine having two grandmothers who both live in their own castles. Anthony Russell, a writer, musician, and composer in Los Angeles, comes from a family that served England’s kings and queens for five hundred years, which left them very, very wealthy…wealthy enough for his grandmums to purchase castles in England and Ireland.

Russell tells the story of a childhood at the highest levels of British aristocracy in Outrageous Fortune: Growing Up at Leeds Castle. His father, Lord Ampthill, was Prince Philip’s roommate at boarding school. Lord Ampthill also was known as “the Russell baby,” whose paternity and conception were at the heart of a sensational divorce case in the 1920s and a court challenge to his right to the title.

Lord Amptill’s mother (Lady Ampthill, she of the castle in Ireland) swore that he was the son of her husband, despite the fact that their marriage was never fully consummated. (It all had something to do with a bath sponge.)

Lady Ampthill (the author's grandmother) was a well-recognized figure hunting with the County Galway Foxhounds (the Blazers). She rode side saddle well into her later years, until suffering a fatal accident in the hunting field in 1976.