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Everyone has a question at some time on an arcane hunting term, correct attire, a point of etiquette. The FHL Panel of Expertswill answer your question on any aspect of hounds, hound breeding, hunting hounds in the field, training the field hunter, foxhunting history, sporting art, and literature. Try us!
C. Martin Wood III, MFH / Karen Myers photo“Recently I heard the term July hound,” writes Kelly Bryant. “What is a July hound? Is it a breed or a bloodline? How is July blood used in foxhounds today? What benefits do they bring to the hunt, and how does one recognize a July hound from other hounds?”
Marty Wood, MFH is a member of Foxhunting Life’s Panel of Experts. He is a consummate hound breeder, a student of bloodlines, and breeder of the last two Grand Champion Foxhounds of the Virginia Foxhound Show—2010 and 2011. Your editor has some familiarity with the literature on the July hound, so Wood and Fine collaborated on the answer to Kelly’s question.
“Where did the term ‘ratcatcher’ come from?” asks Carol Riggs, whipper-in to the Red Mountain Foxhounds in North Carolina. “I know there are many, many ideas about this, but I would love to know the real history of the term ratcatcher.”
When it comes to etymology, Steven Price, the newest member of our Panel of Experts, is the first person I would think to consult. For Steven, words are beguiling toys to play on, to savor, to manipulate. He is the author or editor of thirty-five books, including the Lyon’s Press Horseman’s Dictionary. Here’s what he had to say:
Foxhound whelps—tiny creatures that in a few short years will be the very ones we rely on for our sport—are making their entrance into our world as we slide into the tailing end of the season. Hunt members and hunt supporters—"puppy walkers"—will be taking the lucky ones from the kennels to their own homes and farms to start the puppies' education in a free and pleasant environment.
Puppy walker Heather Kuenzi wants to do her best for her huntsman and her puppies. She writes:
"I was recently asked by our huntsman to bring two puppies (Penn-Marydel bloodlines) to our farm for the winter and walk them out! Any words of wisdom, or training tips for when I'm out walking the fields with them? I'm curious to know if hounds are simply born "biddable" or if there are things I can do to work on developing those traits. I'd like to continue to walk puppies for our hunt with future pups and am working hard on returning them as honest members of the pack! I also have a half-foxhound house dog who is also enjoying "helping" me with raising them!
It’s no secret that standards of correct attire and appointments have been allowed to slip in many hunting fields in recent years. To some, it’s of no consequence. To others, standards are something they value. Why? Perhaps they simply wish to demonstrate their respect for history and tradition, or for being guests on the landowners’ property. Perhaps they want to maintain respect for the memory of those sportsmen/mentors of yesterday who taught them about foxhunting and have left us this special way of life. For whatever reason, it’s fun to listen to those who care about correct attire and appointments, wish to maintain the standards, have questions, and want to understand the finer points.
Aeron Mack is one who cares. She is starting to help her local hunt as an honorary whipper-in, and she has several questions that we have put to our Panel of Experts both here and abroad. Mack asks:
"I have read Lt. Col. Foster’s book Whipper-In which states the basic premise that whips must know the names of each hound to truly be of assistance," writes Kathy Rubin. "What contribution can I make as an honorary whip when I cannot devote the time to know each hound? Where should I set my sights so I can be of help to my huntsman despite the fact that I cannot be with hounds on a daily basis? I believe many of the smaller hunts in the country face the same problem. Can you give me some guidance and recommend additional reading?"
Knowing that Messrs. Scott, Robards, and Peel—world authorities on the subjects of foxhounds and the hunting of hounds in the field—are geared to thinking at the most sophisticated levels of hound management, I had to wonder, as I posed Kathy’s question to them, if they could truly identify with her less than ideal aspirations. They did. But at the same time, they didn’t let her completely off the hook.