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Norm Fine's Blog

NormanAs the new season begins, I want to remind readers about one of Foxhunting Life’s features—our Panel of Experts. Every foxhunter has the occasional question, whether it be what the huntsman, the whipper-in, or the hounds are doing; the meaning of an arcane hunting term;  breeding or judging hounds; correct attire; a point of etiquette; training the field hunter; even sporting art or literature.

I have found over the years that while there are no bad questions, sometimes there are bad answers! In the belief that our readers deserve only authoritative answers, we assembled a Panel of Experts whose breadth of knowledge and proven experience was unassailable.

Questions tackled by our Experts have included: why does a fox bark, what triggers the spring dance of huntsmen from one hunt to the next, are there different types of foxes in England, how to handle a hound that is shy of men, can foxhounds make good house pets, how to retrain a horse that exits the trailer like a cannonball, why is an afternoon after-hunt meal called a hunt breakfast, what is a July hound, what is the origin of ratcatcher, and many, many more. To see the answers to those questions and others, go to the Ask the Experts dropdown menu and click on Questions and Answers.

Members of FHL’s Panel of Experts respond to readers’ questions seriously, expansively, and with dashes of humor, and I’m most grateful to each of them: Sherman Haight, Arthur Liese, Dr. Matthew Mackay-Smith, Jerry Miller, Nigel Peel, Steven Price, Hugh Robards, Martin Scott, Dr. Roger Scullin, C. Martin Wood, and the late James L. Young.

At the time when Foxhunting Life’s Panel was being recruited, the widely admired English judge and hound breeder Martin Scott objected to the over-worn title of Expert.

"I am weary of being an expert," he wrote. "That word has been defined as an ‘ex’—a has been, which may be true—and a ‘spurt’—a drip under pressure."

When pressed for an alternative, Scott suggested Panel of Advisors.

I countered by writing that "in this age of ‘uber-communication,’ there are all too many individuals ready, willing, and even anxious to dispense their dubious ‘advice.’ What we need are ‘Expert Advisors’ such as you!"

"You win!" he replied.

Should you have a question for our Panel, go to the Ask the Experts dropdown menu on the website, and click on How to Ask. As with all our articles, readers’ comments are invited.

Posted August 27, 2015

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