with Horse and Hound

Book Review by Norman Fine

sheep may safely graze.clancy

Sheep May Safely Graze

sheep may safely graze.clancySheep May Safely Graze, L.M. Clancy, 2015, 423 pages, paperback, $14.95, available at AmazonIrish sporting artist Liam Clancy has expanded his repertoire. He’s written a novel.

While foxhunting, prodigious drinking, and sex are well-handled ingredients of Clancy’s story—which takes place mostly in Ireland and England—those ingredients are only a framework upon which hangs a larger story of people, relationships, and the times. Our times: the Millennial, hunt sabs, the pathos of the hoof and mouth epidemic, the runup to the hunting ban, the dagger thrust into the heart of the English countryside by a government focused elsewhere.

If the publishing industry were not in turmoil, as it has been for the last decade at least, and if publishers would give first-time novelists half-a-chance, Clancy’s book could well replace titles by authors with household names that now occupy undeserved spots on the Best Seller lists. His dialog crackles, and his characters are wholly-formed individuals that you will care greatly for. Think of Maeve Binchy on steroids.

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hush money

Hush Money

hush moneyHush Money by Chuck Greaves, Minotaur Books, New York, hard cover, 304 pages, $24.99If you’re going on vacation in August, be sure and take Hush Money with you. I mean the book. It’s a first novel by Los Angeles trial lawyer Chuck Greaves that’s polished and fast-paced with crackling dialog, the latter often the death knell for many first-timers.

Jack MacTaggart, the story’s protagonist, is a non-horsey lawyer representing an insurance company investigating a claim on a recently deceased show jumper. Our lawyer gets educated about horses and the high stakes world of professional show jumping by Tara Flynn, a gorgeous young rider who despises the dead horse’s bereaved owner, socialite Sydney Everett.

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Letters to a Young Huntsman

andrewbarclayLetters to a Young Huntsman, Andrew Barclay, Outskirts Press, Inc., Denver, 2012, 116 pages, $27.95I have long admired Andrew Barclay’s writing. As for his expertise, that was proven long ago in the hunting field.

Andrew got a good start to his career by whipping-in to legendary huntsman Les Grimes for seven years at the Green Spring Valley Hounds in Maryland. Upon Grimes’s retirement, the horn was passed to Andrew, and he carried it with distinction there for the next twenty years.

Around the time that Andrew was getting ready to retire as huntsman, MFHA Director Tony Leahy was formulating what is now known as the MFHA’s Professional Development Program—a structured training program for young aspiring huntsmen. One aspect of the program required that a knowledgeable mentor be available to work with each individual admitted into the program.

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Hunting Songs, Volume One: The Lakeland Fell Packs

lakeland_hunting_songsHunting Songs, Volume One: The Lakeland Fell Packs, Ron Black and Wendy Fraser, Blurb Publishing, 2011, 75 pages, 7.50 pounds (soft cover), 15.50 pounds (hard cover), www.cumbrian-lad.comRon Black and Wendy Fraser collaborated on this collection—a folk history, really—of Lakeland hunting songs. Over the course of three-hundred years, followers of the fell packs of the English Lake District wrote these songs to memorialize historic runs, iconic huntsmen, special foxhounds, and—what pleased me especially—brave terriers! Perhaps I just never noticed, but I cannot recall any other book of hunting songs and poems that includes odes to these feisty little creatures.

Or perhaps I paid special notice here because I now happen to be the smitten owner of a nine-month-old Border terrier whose ancestors scurried in their determined fashion over those same fells on the English-Scottish border. Here’s the story of Badger and Butcher by Mr. and Mrs. Curry, and it’s still sung today!

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The Art of Foxhunting

The Art of Foxhunting, Phil & Susie Audibert, 168 pages, 11 x 11 inches, soft cover, color, $35.00, www.AudibertPhoto.com

The title of this captivating book is obviously a play on words. It showcases the photographic art of Phil and Susie Audibert and at the same time opens our eyes to the inherent artfulness of our sporting endeavor. I have used photographs by the Audiberts in Covertside, in the Millwood House foxhunting calendar, and in Foxhunting Life with great pleasure in the past, so I admit that I am not an impartial reviewer.

The photography is beautiful, not only by virtue of the artistic talent of the shooters in seeing and composing balanced and flowing images, but also because they have done the hard work in the field away from the meet—waiting in the country, sometimes in vain but occasionally rewarded by the opportunity for that single-chance shot of action and beauty. And in all kinds of weather! Some of my favorite images that resonated with old memories were dull, cold, wet hunting scenes blurred by falling snow and sleet.

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