Fox Hunting Life with Horse and Hound

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William Dunlap: The Walker Foxhound as an Allegory

dunlap“Dunlap” by William Dunlap; foreword by Julia Reed, essay by J. Richard Gruber; Jackson, MS: University of Mississippi Press, 2006; available at Amazon

William Dunlap is an important contemporary artist of the South with a powerful affinity for southern landscapes and Walker foxhounds. Dunlap’s work may be seen in many prestigious collections, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Corcoran Collection of the National Gallery of Art.

His book, Dunlap, features more than one hundred works, produced over a thirty-year period. It is published in a trade hardback and a limited edition of two hundred signed, bound-in-linen covers, housed in a matching linen-covered clamshell box. A signed, numbered print featuring four Walker foxhounds is included in the box. The book's cover features a surrealist landscape with a white Walker foxhound, Delta Dog Trot, appearing ready to climb right out of the painting, a nod to nineteenth century trompe l’oeil techniques. The painting, “Delta Dog Trot, Landscape Askew” hangs at the Alluvian Hotel in Greenwood, Mississippi.

Dunlap’s grandfather was “a foxhunter of the old school,” Dunlap writes. “He bred and hunted generations of pure blood Walker Hounds. With names like Lucky, Mary, Speck, Sally and Bo, these dogs were all legs, lungs, nose and heart. They lived to run, but spent most of their lives laying around the kennel, eating, sleeping, stretching and occasionally giving off the deep-throated mouth that would send any fox in earshot scurrying for the nearest hole.

James Barclay's Hunting England

myhuntingengland.barclayMy Hunting England, James Barclay, Ruddocks, Lincoln, UK, 2015, cloth, illustrated, large format, 143 pages, £45Foxhunters are often regarded by the uninitiated as a pack of wealthy horsemen in fancy clothes galloping gaily over the countryside. Truth be told, some foxhunters riding in their private and select world above the fray see it the same way.

James Barclay learned differently. In his just-published My Hunting England, he tells of his life in hunting, his love for England, and—for a man born high above the fray—tells his story with humanity, sympathy, and respect for all manner of hunting man and his quarry.

A frequent contributor to the pages of Foxhunting Life, James Barclay was born to a banking family well-represented in the world of hunting. He, his sister, two brothers, mother, father, grandfather, and great-grandfather all served as Masters of Foxhounds—a family way-of-life that began in 1896 when his great-grandfather became Master of the Puckeridge. James served as Master of five hunts from 1983 to 2012: the Essex and Suffolk, Fitzwilliam, Cottesmore, South Wold, and Grove and Rufford.

James’s new book is part memoir, part snapshot of hunting in the twenty-first century, and part tribute to those who left their mark on the sport of his life. He entered hunt service at the bottom and toiled alongside the other lads in the kennels. Nor, as he was to find, were all kennels equal.

Is the Jockey Really an Athlete?

The still-fresh images of American Pharoah’s victorious jockey Victor Espinoza standing in his irons, fist in the air, cruising past the stands of cheering spectators, legs bobbling to absorb the shock of each footfall, provide a perfect segue into this article by Betsy Parker.

jockey athleteA jockey isn't really an athlete, After all, the horse does all the work, right?  /  David Chapman photo

Overheard railside at the Foxfield Races near Charlottesville: One pastel-clad college kid to the next as they rummage for beer in their cooler before noon on Saturday: “Jockeys aren't really athletes. They just sit in the saddle for a few minutes. I could do that!”

I almost fainted. Here the most provocative lede of the decade just dropped in my lap, and I couldn't get to the jock's room fast enough to dangle the mother of all conversation-starters like a tenderloin in front of a pack of hungry dogs. Hustling up the hill, I tried the assertion on jockeys Gerard Galligan and Brendan Brooks. They laughed.

“Anyone who'd say that has never ridden a race,” Galligan sniffed.

“Anyone who'd say that has never ridden a horse!” Brooks countered. “There's so much more to racing than 'riding.'”

As the Irishmen trailed off to walk the Barracks Road course, I jotted some interview questions. There was more to the story than laughing at a schoolboy's boast. It's not only athletic endeavor that drives competitiveness, as I'd soon find out. It's part will to win, part boldness. Part athletic concentration, part love of sport. It's a certain level of excitement tempered by highly-honed mental agility.

A 1980s University of North Carolina study measured that pound-for-pound, jockeys are the strongest, quickest, most agile and most hardcore athletes on the planet. Had the researchers studied jump jockeys, they'd've doubled it.

Gregg Ryan, MFH Back in the Winner's Circle at Orange County

och15.amnov hurdle.leesAmateur/Novice Rider Hurdle Race (l-r): Special Guy (Ben Swope up) was second by a length to winner Spy In The Sky and Gregg Ryan, MFH.  /  Douglas Lees photo

The Orange County Hounds Point-to-Point Races were held on Locust Hill Farm, Middleburg, Virginia, on Sunday, March 29, 2015, perhaps the nicest spring day for racegoers yet this season.

Gregg Ryan, MFH of the Piedmont Fox Hounds and the Snickersville Hounds in Virginia, marked his return to the racecourse by winning the Amateur Novice Rider Hurdle Race on his veteran, Spy In The Sky. Ryan allowed Ben Swope on Special Guy to set the pace for much of the race, before pulling away with five furlongs to go. Special Guy, as he did at Warrenton, made a late rush, but not enough.

Spy In The Sky is trained by Eva Smithwick, Gregg’s Joint-Master at Snickersville. Trained in years past by Jimmy Day, Spy in the Sky won the $100,000 A.P. Smithwick Memorial Handicap at Saratoga in 2012, returning long odds of 25-1 to the lucky ticket holders there.

Trainer Teddy Mulligan Returns, Wins at Blue Ridge

brh15.mulligan.getaway.kleckTrainer Teddy Mulligan marked his return to the racecourse with a win in the first race. / Nancy Kleck photoThe sixty-sixth running of the Blue Ridge Hunt Point-to-Point Races were held at Woodley Farm on Sunday, March 22, 2015. This was the second year in a row that the Blue Ridge race meet had to be postponed due to the weather.

Trainer Teddy Mulligan returned to the racecourse after a year’s absence, saddling his first horse for the first race since his leave-taking and scoring his first win. Bedizen and Zol Zayne, the one-two horses, pulled away from the field of four in the Maiden Hurdle Race with less than a quarter mile to run. Turning for home, Bedizen with Jeff Murphy up took the lead and drew away for a convincing win.

In the remaining two hurdle races—Amateur/Novice Rider and Open Races—trainer Jimmy Day and his rider Brendan Brooks dominated the Winner’s Circle with Controlled Neglect, owned by Ann Braxton Jones-Lynch, and Manacor, owned by a Daybreak Stables syndicate.

Nancy Dillon Honored

Nancy Dillon is a living, legendary treasure of the Piedmont Fox Hounds in Virginia. She is the longest subscribing member of the hunt, having started hunting at age eight in 1943. For nearly a half century she has taught and led more children into the hunting field than anyone can count. Her truck and trailer pulling into the meet have been likened to the car at the circus where the clowns just keep coming out.

On Friday, November 8, 2013, the hunt threw a party at Buchanan Hall in Upperville to screen a specially-produced documentary—Lessons in the Piedmont—in tribute to Nancy. Throughout this beautifully-produced and heart-warming film, children (some grown, others still growing), Masters, hunt members, and citizens of the community expressed their love for this woman and their heart-felt appreciation for what she has done to instill a love of the sport, respect for the land, and personal values to generations of children.