Fox Hunting Life with Horse and Hound

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Were Donor Millions Squandered in "Groundless" Lawsuit?

nodh.klmDonors to animal rights organizations like the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) need to think hard about how their charitable dollars can best be spent to improve the welfare of animals. Recent events suggest that local animal welfare shelters might put those dollars to better use for animals than does the HSUS and their cohorts. Driven by the fanatical certainty of their ideology, HSUS and others risked ethical misconduct and wound up losing millions of dollars in a frivolous and groundless lawsuit.

HSUS vs. Circus
A lawsuit brought in 2000 by HSUS and other animal rights organizations against Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus turned out to be so tainted that twenty-five million dollars have been paid by the plaintiffs to the circus owners in settlements. In 2012 the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) paid $9.3 million in a settlement for its part in the false claims made. As the lawsuit fell apart, other animal rights groups abandoned the action.

In May of this year, HSUS and others paid another $15.7 million in settlement fees as part of the same failed lawsuit, bluntly described by Judge Emmet G. Sullivan of the U.S. District Court of the District of Columbia as “groundless and unreasonable from its inception.”

Watch Your Language, Bud!

NormanReaders of our e-magazine FHL WEEK have perhaps been puzzled by the stilted avoidance of common everyday words that might be considered offensive in a different context. In a recent book review, we camouflaged the word, “s-e-x,” by replacing the middle letter with a hyphen. In recent hound show reports, we used the word “female” instead of the b-word.

While it grieves me to avoid the use of natural language, I do it to reduce the chance of having our e-magazines labeled as spam by any one of the many spam filters that stand between Foxhunting Life and its readers. Thanks to the glut of junk email that bombards us daily, responsible mass-mailers must take unusual steps to ensure delivery of their email to all recipients.

Foxhunting Life uses iContact, a highly responsible mass mailer, to manage our distribution list and to mail FHL WEEK to the more than four thousand foxhunting enthusiasts who have registered to receive it. When we send our e-magazine to iContact  for distribution, if our text contains anything that their algorithms determine could be considered spam, they notify us, and we make the necessary changes. So, if we sound silly sometimes, that’s at least one of the reasons why.

Posted July 22, 2014

 

Autumn Morn: Ode to a Huntsman

michael powerHuntsman Michael Power / Douglas Lees photoAlthough this poem was written in tribute to a huntsman in his prime, it is especially poignant because it seems to prophesy his tragic end.

Fay Bohlayer, a member of the Shakerag Hounds (GA), wrote the poem in 1981 for huntsman Michael Power on the occasion of his move from Shakerag to the Warrenton Hunt (VA). Ten years later, Bolayer’s poem was read at Power’s memorial service after he suffered a fatal accident in the hunting field. It could as well have been written for that sad occasion.

Power was a keen, hardworking, talented huntsman, and he showed exceptional sport at Warrenton. I watched one day as he had someone throw a coat over a barbed wire fence, which he then jumped to stay with hounds.

Once Bohlayer asked him which he thought was more fun: hunting or racing. Power replied, “Whichever I happen to be doing at the time.” She recalls one day behind Power when hounds were running, and to stay with them Power galloped without pause straight toward an iron gate, which he jumped. Bohlayer chose not to follow Power’s line, and after the run she came up and apologized for going around. “Not at all,” he piped in his Irish tenor. “It’s your sport, but it’s my living. I must go.”

Here’s Fay Bohlayer’s tribute to Michael Power:

Looking at the Huntsman

nodh.klmNo hunting all summer. The huntsman must be having himself a nice vacation, right? Wrong. There’s an old saying that “most foxes are killed in kennel,” meaning that all the good work you see in the field during the hunting season is established during the off-season in the training of the young entry and in the making of the pack. Feed, care, routine, discipline, and exercise through the hot summer months all add up to performance in the field. Then there’s the whelping and care of the puppies who will be entered not this season, but the next. All told, summer is an exceedingly busy time for any huntsman who plans to field a high mettle pack of hounds and show good sport.

As the summer weeks slide by and the start of the informal season approaches, Foxhunting Life will have a look at the huntsman in the next few issues, including some of the legendary huntsmen of the past to see what they had to teach us about the handling of hounds in the field. Chances are, when the season comes alive, you will see your own huntsman employing similar techniques in the handling of his or her hounds in pursuit of the quarry.

What's New in Hunting Head Wear?

H2000-NavyH2000 / Courtesy Charles OwenCan a foxhunter make use of modern materials and technology for a safer riding experience, yet maintain the traditional look of the hunting field? This has been an ongoing challenge.

With foxhunters representing but a small subset of the total market for riding helmets, it makes good business sense for helmet manufacturers to strive to distinguish and brand their product offerings with stylish new shapes, medallions, stripes, and other decorative touches, none of which resembles anything that would have been acceptable in the hunting fields of even twenty years ago.

Correct hunting attire of the early twentieth century called for men and women field members to wear hunting derbies, with men switching to top hats when in formal attire. Later in the twentieth century, both men and women field members were moving toward the wearing of the iconic hunt cap in the field, traditionally correct only for Masters and staff. The rationale was that hunt caps, covering more of the head, were believed to be safer than derbies and top hats. In the interest of safety, most Masters put up little resistance to this migration.

We recently published a story about Caroline Treviranus, whose accident during the 1978 Three-Day World Championships rapidly spurred equestrian organizations to mandate the wearing of approved safety helmets during competition. So it was that when Caroline started managing my hunting stable some years later, I was still wearing the traditional hunt cap in the field.

Constructed of laminated fabric stiffened with shellac and glue, with no chin strap to keep it on my head in the event of an unscheduled dismount, it provided scant protection compared to the new approved helmets. Caroline, in the interest of job security (and perhaps even my health), commenced nagging me about wearing a safety helmet with harness to go hunting.