Fox Hunting Life with Horse and Hound

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Beth Blackwell Is New Huntsman at Tryon

Tryon Hounds recently announced the hiring of Beth Blackwell as their new professional huntsman. Blackwell moves to North Carolina over these first few days of September to take over the management and hunting of Tryon’s pack of American foxhounds. She will also hunt a foot pack of Basset hounds.

Blackwell has been a professional staff member for both mounted and foot packs for the last eighteen years. Before hunting professionally, Blackwell was a professional hunter/jumper rider and trainer. She was most recently serving as professional huntsman for the Penn-Marydel pack at the De La Brooke Foxhounds (MD). That hunt now seeks a new huntsman, according to a source.

Blackwell replaces former huntsman Trey Bennett and takes over the Tryon pack for cubhunting on September 10th as that hunt begins its ninetieth season.

Posted September 5, 2016

California's Island Fox Rebounds From Near Extinction

island foxThe diminutive Island fox is found only on the Channel Islands off the California coast. / National Park Service photo

The island fox, a small cousin to the gray fox, is found on the Channel Islands off the coast of Southern California, and nowhere else. They weigh in at three to five pounds and are about the size of a house cat.

The little fox was listed as an endangered species in 2004, when the total population had dropped by ninety percent to about two hundred remaining foxes. The population has rebounded to an estimated six thousand as of 2015 as the result of a recovery program that removed feral pigs from the islands, reduced the population of golden eagles, and introduced a captive breeding and a vaccination program against canine distemper.

Thanks to the strong comeback, last week three groups of the island fox were removed from the endangered list and one group was downgraded from endangered to threatened. Hunting is not an issue in any event, as hunting is prohibited on all the islands comprising the Channel Islands National Park.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service reports that ninety-nine percent of all animal and plant species listed under the Endangered Species Act have been saved from extinction since the time of the law’s enactment in 1973.

Click to read the entire Reuters article by Steve Gorman.

Posted August 13, 2016

Jim Meads, 86, Honored at Peterborough

Jim Meads, eighty-six, was honored upon his seventy years of photographing the Peterborough Royal Foxhound Show (UK). It is surely a stunning achievement, considering that Jim first photographed the show in 1946, the year it was resumed after the end of World War II.

Jim was presented with a bronze fox in the Peterborough ring by Sir Philip Naylor-Leyland MFH, chairman of the show committee on July 20. Lord Annaly, ex-MFH and ring steward for many years at Peterborough made the announcement to the crowd during the ceremony.

The running photographer, familiar in his knee sox and loose green raincoat, who is often seen by astonished riders to be already photographing hounds at the earth as they arrive with steaming horses at the end of a long run, has been a popular figure in North America. He’s visited 186 times! In 2010, Foxhunting Life carried the story as Jim celebrated a personal (and probably a world) record by photographing his 500th hunt, this at the Loudoun Hunt West (VA).

In an interview with Horse and Hound, Jim admits to missing one show at Peterborough when, in 1969, he captained the Queen Mother’s Cricket Team on a tour of the Isle of Wight. He was substituting for National Hunt jockey David Nicholson, who  had fallen and broken his leg the day before the Peterborough Show. In 1948, 1949, and 1950, he had to get special twenty-four-hour passes from the Royal Air Force in order to attend.

For photos of the presentation and more details, click to read Polly Portwin’s article in Horse and Hound.

Posted July 25, 2016

Virginia Reports Second Case of EEE

For horses kept in the Tidewater area of Virginia, veterinarians recommend vaccination against mosquito-borne disease every six months. Anyone keeping horses in mosquito-infested areas of North America should heed this recommendation.

The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) today announced the second case of Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) in a Virginia horse this year. Both cases were in Suffolk County, a mosquito-breeding area. Fortunately, the horse, a Thoroughbred, had been vaccinated and is recovering.

Symptoms include impaired vision, aimless wandering, head pressing, circling, inability to swallow, irregular staggering gait, paralysis, convulsions and death. Once a horse has been bitten by an infected mosquito, it may take three to ten days for signs of the disease to appear.

Without vaccination, the mortality rate for horses is high—from eight to ninety percent. Vaccines are generally effective in drastically reducing the incidence of both EEE and West Nile Virus (WNV) in horses.

To stimulate full immunity, horses must be vaccinated twice in the first year of vaccination, about thirty days apart. The vaccines are effective for six to twelve months, so horses should be re-vaccinated at least annually.

For more information, horse owners may contact VDACS’ Office of the State Veterinarian at 804.692.0601 or consult their local veterinarian.

Posted July 12, 2016

Fox Photo Tops Annual National Geographic Contest

foxes2Wherever you go, I will follow you! / Photo and caption by Hiroki Inoue

A pair of courting foxes—two understated splashes of color in an otherwise pale wintry Japanese landscape—was the subject of the winning Nature photograph in the 2016 National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year Contest.

Winning photographer Hiroki Inoue wrote, “It was when I drove back home feeling disappointed with the fact that I had finished the day in vain without any anticipated subject that I heard the joyful voice from the car window like ‘quack, quack!’ There they were: red foxes. Around the end of the winter, they meet the season of love; they care for and love each other enough to make us jealous.”

Posted July 3, 2016