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!

Siegfried Sassoon’s Haunted Sequel

sassoon memoirs foxhunting manMemoirs of a Foxhunting Man, Siegfried Sassoon, 1928, Penguin Classics, paper, available at Amazon and bookstoresEarly July exactly one hundred years ago, British, French, and German troops engaged in battle near the River Somme that left a million men dead or wounded on the fields in just four months of butchery. Known to history as the Battle of the Somme, it was arguably the bloodiest in all of human history. All for a gain of just six miles into enemy-occupied territory.

Author and poet Siegfried Sassoon was at the Somme. His lovingly-written classic, Memoirs of a Foxhunting Man, ends with his wartime service, his loss of dear friends, and the beginnings of his ruminations on the madness of war.

For just the foxhunting content, the book is a classic to be recommended to any literate foxhunter. But Sassoon wrote a sequel, Memoirs of an Infantry Officer, which is the most moving anti-war book this reporter has ever read.

The Purebred and The Mutt

With permission, here is the first chapter of The Great Hound Match of 1905 by Martha Wolfe (Lyons Press). The Library of Virginia has selected Martha’s work as a potential Best Book of 2016 in the Non-Fiction category. Readers may cast their votes by clicking here.

higginson and cotesworth with houndsA. Henry Higginson, MFH, Middlesex Hunt, in derby and spats with huntsman Robert Cotesworth and his imported English foxhounds of the period. / Courtesy, National Sporting Library and Museum

Storytellers claim that there is really only one story in the world: “A Stranger Comes to Town.” In this case, two strangers came to two towns in Virginia bringing with them their separate entourages—private train loads of friends and their horses, trunks of tack, boots, formal and informal clothing, food and wine, servants and of course their hound dogs. Neither Middleburg nor Upperville, Virginia, had seen the likes since J. E. B. Stuart established his headquarters at the Beverage House (now the Red Fox Inn) in Middleburg during the Gettysburg Campaign. Alexander Henry Higginson of South Lincoln and Harry Worcester Smith of Grafton, Massachusetts had determined that the Loudoun Valley in Virginia’s pastoral Piedmont was the best place to prove the relative worth of their chosen foxhounds.

Colour

We see every color of horse in the hunting field. And while foxhunters really shouldn’t care about color, I’m guessing that many riders have a preference. Right or wrong, I know I do. In this photo, several horses of varying colors are crossing the country well. We may be missing more colors than we care to, but we hope you’ll get the idea.

karel.nmf.3.kleckKeeping up with the Blue Ridge hounds in Virginia are (L–R) Cyrus (a paint) owned and ridden by Karel Wennink; Guitar (a “black-pointed bay”) owned and ridden by your editor; Hot Rize (a “black-pointed bay” and winner of the 2014 Virginia Gold Cup) owned and ridden by Russell Haynes; and Very Berry (a roan) owned and ridden by Jef Murdock, MFH, Old Chatham Hunt (NY). / Nancy Kleck photo

Colour by Edric G. Roberts

The old saying, so often repeated,
That ‘there never was yet a good horse
Of a really bad colour,’ is greeted
With a shrug, as a matter of course;
To the past it is now relegated
As the lore of some old-fashioned school,
Which believed in tradition that rated
An exception as proof to the rule.

The Meadow Brook Hunt Was More About People Than Hounds

Book Review by Martha A. Woodham

foxhunting with meadow brook.tablerFoxhunting with Meadow Brook, Judith Tabler, The Derrydale Press, 2016, 312 pages, available from Amazon.“Foxhunting with Meadow Brook on Long Island, New York, was always about more than the fox, the hounds, or the horses. Meadow Brook was about its people—some powerful, some idle, many wealthy—and their shared joy in galloping across beautiful country, only minutes outside New York City.”

This quote from the dust jacket blurb on Judith Tabler’s Foxhunting with Meadow Brook sums up her book well—except for one thing. Foxhunting with Meadow Brook Hunt Club in the early days was also about the jumping—the bigger the jumps, the better.  Many members—high-powered businessmen from New York—were highly competitive, and every meet was a contest that, sadly, did not always end well. Over the decades Meadow Brook lost at least four members to dangerous riding.