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Whipping-in on Fearnought, the author's favorite.Cold and wet from rain on my thirty-six-inch pony Toy Mouse, with my fearless two-legged leader...mom Caroline...at the other end of the lead-line: that’s how I became addicted to a sport known as foxhunting. When we got in from hunting, my wool hunt coat weighed more than I did.
Since then, every autumn, from age four until now (not going to disclose that, but I’ve finished college!), there is a sense of anticipation and adrenaline that rushes through my veins. Foxhunters know how the goose bumps rise on your skin the moment those hunting hounds open up on a fresh scent of a fox or coyote, and away they go! This adrenaline rush only multiples, if you can believe it, when a person is allowed to have the honor of being a whipper-in.
What is dog to man? What is the worth of one terrier to a band of stoical countrymen who live in a harsh place in a depressed time? How hard and how long will such men strive to save a dog from perishing, out of pure respect? Our recently departed Cumbrian friendRon Blackgave us a story to remember.
The rescue, 1934
It’s a long pull from the New Dungeon Ghyll Hotel to the site of the borran. You first climb up Stickle Ghyll following the track as it ascends, beside the beck, at first gently, but just before Tarn Crag there is a steeper section. At Tarn Crag the track swings right-handed, and you can cross the beck and follow it up to the tarn on the left bank picking your way through the rocks.
Original painted canvas wall hanging by Lisa Curry Mair (3 feet x 6 feet)
Artist Lisa Curry Mair works in a unique genre from her studio in an eighteenth-century farm at the base of Mount Ascutney in Perkinsville, Vermont. She creates paintings, custom murals, and floorcloths on canvas in a folk-art style. Much of her work includes foxhunting scenes.
Mair’s commissions have come from Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts, several National Historic Sites, and hundreds of homeowners with specific ideas of what they wanted painted for their homes. Over the last twenty-five years of research, study, and “lots of mistakes,” she has developed the tools and knowhow to bring the client’s vision to light. Mair has attended classes and workshops since minoring in Art at Acadia University in Nova Scotia (while majoring in Mathematics and focusing on a career in riding).
In the announcement of Katharine T. (“KT”) Atkins’s election to the Mastership at the Warrenton Hunt (VA), Kim Nash, MFH wrote, “Her extraordinary wealth of foxhunting knowledge and equestrian skills bring remarkable depth to our team of Masters.”
KT whipped-in to her late husband, Jim Atkins, for nearly thirty years in Virginia, all through his service as professional huntsman to the Old Dominion Hounds, Piedmont Fox Hounds, Dr. Gable’s Foxhounds, and the Warrenton Hunt. Jim was inducted into the Huntsmen’s Room at the Museum of Hounds and Hunting last May, and, as his whipper-in through all those years, KT has seen some outstanding hound work. And she knows what it takes to produce it.
Author/historian Ron Black, a fourth-generation foot hunter who strove to preserve the foxhunting history of his beloved Cumbria.I never met Ron Black in person, but I knew him so well. We’d been carrying on an email friendship for years. Ron died of cancer on September 5, 2017.
Over the years our correspondence covered all sorts of subjects—foxhunting, politics, world affairs. (He was for Hillary, all the way.) He scoffed at us mounted foxhunters for our preoccupation with horses and fancy clothing, and he would start most notes with, “How are things in the Colonies?” His sense of history was a huge part of who he was. And it was to preserve the history of foxhunting in his beloved Cumbria, after the despised Hunting Act became law, that possessed him to start a website and begin collecting that history.
That’s how John Harrison became friends with Ron Black. Harrison is currently hunting the Deep Run Hunt (VA) foxhounds, but twenty years ago Harrison was huntsman for one of the storied foot packs in the Lake District, the Ullswater Foxhounds. Ron was writing a book about the Ullswater. It was the hunt of Harrison’s boyhood, and he had returned to England from Toronto and North York (ON) to take up the horn there. It is a hard and dangerous place: climbing borrans (stone piles), crags (cliffs), and crossing the scree beds (fallen stone from the crags). It’s country that would ruin a horse the first time out. Harrison hunted the Ullswater hounds on foot there for eighteen seasons before returning to North America three years ago.