with Horse and Hound


Foxhunting Remains an Issue as Elections Loom in UK

In the runup to the May 7 elections in Britain, foxhunting and the Hunting Act that outlawed traditional hunting there in 2005 are once again subjects for polarized wrangling in the British media. While issues of greater import confront the nation as a whole, foxhunting remains a burning issue in rural areas. For many in those locales, their way of life was drastically altered by the nation’s voters, the majority (95%) of whom live in urban settings and were unaffected by the consequences of their vote. Although the ban was successfully pushed through by a vocal minority of animal rights activists and anti-toff sentiment, to the majority of urban dwellers, foxhunting is far down on their list of crucial issues and easy to quickly dismiss as frivolous. Once again, as he did in the runup to the last election, Prime Minister David Cameron declared last week that the countryside would not be forgotten. Cameron never fulfilled his initial campaign promise during the current session of Parliament because he and his pro-hunting supporters knew they didn’t have the votes to prevail. And once again, foes of hunting, noting the renewed rhetoric of the pro-hunting faction, have pledged through their sympathetic media channels that repeal will never happen. Click for more details in “WMN OPINION,” published by Western Morning News. Posted January, 12, 2015
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University of Arizona Offers Race Track Industry Curriculum

The University of Arizona in Tuscon offers a course of study for aspiring race track industry executives and officials. The university’s Race Track Industry Program (RTIP) is the only Bachelor of Arts and Masters Degree program of its kind, specific to the pari-mutuel racing industry. RTIP students have two options to follow toward their degree—the Business Path or the Equine Management Path. The first prepares students for employment in the areas of race track management, regulation, and pari-mutuel racing organizations. The second prepares students for employment in areas dealing with racing and breeding. A recent graduate is foxhunter/race rider McLane Hendriks from Coatesville, Pennsylvania who rode in the Maryland Hunt Cup just last spring. Hendriks grew up foxhunting, competing in pony jumper shows, and pony racing. In 2007 he was awarded the Junior Steeplechase Rider of the Year title. Hendriks received his Bachelor of Science degree in December after completing his studies in the RTIP. Hendriks and his fellow students received specialized instruction in racing operations, marketing, and racing law. Industry speakers are engaged to give the students real-world insights. During the past summer, Hendriks worked as an intern for Georganne Hale, Director of Racing and Racing Secretary for the Maryland Jockey Club at Pimlico Racecourse. He gained hands-on experience taking entries and accompanying the paddock judge, placing judges, and race stewards. Through the RTIP, Hendriks also was also able to network with industry professionals at the university’s Global Symposium on Racing and Gaming. Held annually for attendees representing horse racing and greyhound racing world-wide, the symposium presents speakers and panel sessions discussing industry subjects and current trends, including simulcasting, account wagering, track surfaces, casino gaming, health issues, operations, technology, and regulation. RTIP students are involved as committee members in registration, publications, exhibits, and audio/visual services in this, what the university claims to be the world’s largest racing industry conference. According to the RTIP website, few other educational programs provide this kind of access and networking with high-level members from the industry that will ultimately employ its students. Posted January 10, 2015
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kate samuels1

A 3-Day Eventer Goes Foxhunting

kate samuels1Handsome Leo and the author go hunting. / Joe Samuels photo

In England and Ireland, it’s de rigueur for eventing horses of all levels to spend their winter season in the foxhunting field, but in the U.S., not so much. In this country, the hunt field is not necessarily where young eventing enthusiasts start their passion for galloping at hedges and coops, or where young horses find their balance and footing across varied terrain.

We reap the benefits when we import sensible Irish horses that have already been out for two seasons at the age of five, but it is certainly less common than it used to be to find crossover between the two disciplines.

Leo, I decided, was going to take the old-fashioned route to finding his cross country talents; we were going to foxhunt. He had come an incredibly long way in the eighteen months that I owned him, in both cross country acumen and fitness for the activities required in eventing, but there was still something missing.

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david semmes and field1

David Hopkins Semmes, ex-MFH

david semmes and field1Joint-Masters David Semmes and Mildred Riddell move off at the head of the Old Dominion field from a meet at the Honorable and Mrs. Joseph W. Barr's Houyhnhnm Farm near Hume, Virginia / Douglas Lees photo

David Hopkins Semmes—longtime Master of the Old Dominion Hounds (VA), amateur steeplechase rider, and deep-water sailor—died peacefully at his home, Indian Run Farm, near Flint Hill, Virginia, on New Years Day, just four days shy of his eighty-seventh birthday.

Born in Washington, D.C., Semmes graduated from Episcopal High School then served a tour of duty in World War II as an aviation radio crewman. He graduated from Princeton in 1949, and in 1950 served in Army intelligence on the Pusan perimeter during the Korean conflict. He worked as a government service officer in Japan, Taiwan, and Hong Kong before returning to Washington to practice law.

Semmes managed intellectual property for forty-one years, notably patenting the so-called “black box” used on airplanes, and the technology used for protective vests for jockeys.

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How Domestication Has Changed the Horse’s Genes

The course of civilization was profoundly altered by the domestication of the horse on the steppes of Eurasia some 5,500 years ago. Merchants, soldiers, explorers, and adventurers of all stripes—newly empowered by the horse to gallop rather than walk—expanded trade, warfare, migration of populations, and the transmission of ideas. To understand the genetic changes wrought by the domestication process, researchers have long wanted to compare the genes of today’s horses to those of ancient wild horses. Since no descendants of the latter have survived, scientists until recently have studied the Przewalski’s horse, the closest extant breed to those ancient horses. Now, discovery of horses frozen in the Siberian permafrost dating from 16,000 up to 43,000 years ago has given scientists a direct window into the ancient horse and has offered new insights into the process of domestication. Ludovic Orlando of the Natural History Museum of Denmark and his team have examined DNA from twenty-nine of these ancient bones and compared it to DNA from five modern domesticated breeds. They discovered that some genes present in today’s horses are totally absent from the ancient horses. They opine that these genes are mutations that resulted from the selection processes over the years. One such gene not found in the ancient horse is what they have called the short-distance speed gene present in every racehorse. The very process of domestication—the selection by humans on attributes such as strength, speed, and biddability—has by its very nature led to inbreeding. Over the five millennia since domestication began, genetic mutations not present in the ancient horses have introduced problems in the modern horse unknown to its wild ancestors. Some scientists not involved in this study believe that comparison of modern horse DNA to wild horse DNA from around the time that domestication started (about 5,500 years ago) would be a better baseline from which to understand the genetic changes caused by domestication. Click to see Sharon Begley’s Reuters article in the Christian Science Monitor and the accompanying video. Posted December 17, 2014
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Last Minute Gift Ideas!

Order by December 18th for delivery by Christmas.Order on the website or call 540-837-1436. Calls on the Horn DVDHuntsman John Tabachka, a two-time winner of the National Horn Blowing Championship, blows eight calls on the hunting horn and explains when and why these calls are used. Regular Price: $20/Subscriber Price: $18 The Songs of Foxhunting CDTwenty traditional foxhunting songs including John Peel; Here’s a Health to Every Sportsman; What a Fine Hunting Day; Drink, Puppy, Drink; A Fox Went Out on a Chilly Night; and many more! Regular Price: $25/Subscriber Price: $22.50 2016 Foxhunting CalendarThe foxhunters’ favorite appointments calendar since 1998, with all new up-to-date foxhunting photos. Our images continue to represent the finest examples of the sporting photographers’ art. Enjoy this year’s twelve 9-½ x 13-inch full color images of contemporary foxhunting scenes from North America, England, Ireland, and Germany! Regular Price: $19/Subscriber Price: $17.10 Foxhunting Adventures: Chasing the Storyby Norman FineThe Derrydale PressThirty-two foxhunting stories populated by horses, hounds, challenging obstacles, and unforgettable personalities. Accompany Norman Fine to Ireland, England, Canada, and across the United States as he meets, hunts with, and is educated by the foremost Masters, huntsmen, hound breeders, and sporting historians of the last fifty years. Regular Price: $35/Subscriber Price: $31.50   Blue Birdseye StocktieThis colorful and traditional stock tie is seen worn by field members in many of the old hunting prints and books plates by eighteenth-century artists and authors. Although it went out of common use early in the last century, it is still worn by those few traditionalists who have the style to carry it off! Regular Price: $50.00 (four-fold), $60.00 (shaped)Subscriber Price: $45.00, $54.00... This content is for subscribers only.Log In Join Now
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Anti-Horse-Carriage Lobby Group Fined

NYCLASS, a group that has lobbied intensively to ban horse drawn carriages from the streets of New York City, has agreed to pay a fine for violating campaign finance rules. The group has admitted to making illegal contributions last year to two City Council candidates, both of whom were elected. Earlier this year, the Daily News disclosed that a political consultant for NYCLASS threatened to undermine Christine Quinn’s mayoral campaign if she didn’t back the carriage horse ban. In April, 2013, Quinn, who was leading her opponent—the now Mayor de Blasio—in the polls at the time, refused to back the ban. NYCLASS responded by contributing more than $400,000 to a PAC formed by NYCLASS’s political consultant to carry out the “Anybody But Quinn” campaign. Records also show that two of de Blasio’s top financial supporters gave $225,000 to NYCLASS. With Mayor de Blasio now having sent proposed legislation to ban the carriages to the New York City Council, that body—which includes the two successful candidates who received illegal funds from NYCLASS—will be deciding on the fate of the horse carriages and their drivers. De Blasio said on Tuesday that he intends to personally lobby City Council members to pass the ban. Dirty business, all under the syrupy guise of “Free the Horses; Stop the Abuse.” Posted December 12, 2014
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dr. stanley gehrt

The Coyote: Thriving Through Persecution

dr. stanley gehrtDr. Stanley Gehrt and an anesthesized coyote in metropolitan ChicagoThe Belle Meade Hounds in Thomson, Georgia will once again stage their annual Hunt Week—Gone Away with the Wind—this season from January 18 to 24. As before, the week will be fun-filled with hunting, parties, a hunt ball, and the camaraderie of the field.

As a bonus, this year’s affair will feature a fascinating presentation by special guest Dr. Stanley Ghert, Associate Professor of Wildlife Ecology and a Wildlife Extension Specialist at Ohio State University.

Dr. Ghert, who has enthralled foxhunters at MFHA meetings over the years, will talk to Belle Meade Hunt Week attendees on Thursday morning, January 22, about his special subject of research—the coyote. This much-aligned animal has survived and even flourished over the past hundred years despite the best efforts of the federal government to eradicate it.

Early in the twentieth century, at the behest of western ranching and agricultural interests that were losing stock to predators, the U.S. Government instituted program after program designed to erase the wolf, grizzly bear, mountain lion, and coyote from the landscape. The programs were mostly successful in their purpose. The wolf, grizzly, and mountain lion were driven nearly to extinction. The coyote, however, was the one predator that not only survived the pressure, but increased its population and its range, slowly expanding eastward and covering now the entire country. How it did that is one of the mysteries of the animal world.

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Galway Blazers huntsman Tom Dempsey and whip Anthony Costello hack home with the Bitch Pack after a cracking days hunting in Craughwell

The Galway Blazers at Craughwell

Galway Blazers huntsman Tom Dempsey and whip Anthony Costello hack home with the Bitch Pack after a cracking days hunting in CraughwellGalway Blazers huntsman Tom Dempsey and whipper-in Anthony Costello hack home after a cracking day's hunting in Craughwell. / Noel Mullins photo

The County Galway Foxhounds (the Blazers), hunted by Tom Dempsey, had a brilliant day's hunting at Craughwell, finding five foxes and running each one to ground.

The hunt was formed in the early nineteenth century and hunts about thirty square miles of unique limestone wall country. The first Master and huntsman was John Denis, an ancestor of the late Lady Molly Cusack-Smith, MFH, who, neé Molly O’Rourke, hunted the Blazers during World War II. There were many other well known Masters, including Isaac (Ikey) Bell, father of the modern English foxhound; American film director John Huston; and Captain Brian Fanshawe, one of England’s illustrious Masters (Warwickshire, North Cotswold, and Cottesmore) and renowned breeder of foxhounds. Two Field Masters that held office for long periods were Lady Anne Hemphill and Willie Leahy.

The Galway Blazers have some of the very best hunting country in the world. To say it is unique is an understatement, with miles of small enclosures, resulting in often fifty stone walls to the mile and uninterrupted views of hounds hunting. To hunt even once with the Galway Blazers is on most hunt followers’ bucket list.

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NYC Mayor to Introduce Horse Carriage Legislation

NYC Mayor de Blasio hasn’t forgotten his promise to ban horse drawn carriages from the streets of New York City. He has waited a full year since his election, but now, according to NYPost.com, de Blasio plans to introduce the legislation into the City Council early in December. He proposes to offset the loss of jobs to the carriage drivers by giving them a year to find other employment and by offering them free permits (worth $6,000 each) to operate green cabs. “If they offered me a green cab medallion I wouldn’t take it,” said one carriage driver. He was perhaps speaking as a man who has chosen to work with horses—a personal and emotional decision the mayor (and many others) may not comprehend. The operating rationale for the mayor’s decision to ban the carriages is that it’s cruel to make the horses work, and it’s a danger on crowded city streets. A hard look, however, suggests that’s a sanitized excuse for a developer-driven decision to convert the stables to higher income use. The issue has been in the news for the past year, and it’s not clear that the mayor has a majority backing for his position among the population—it having been shown that the horses are exceedingly well cared for and given adequate rest. Click for Talma Palmeri’s complete article. Posted December 1, 2014 LatestThe Wall Street Journal is conducting a poll on the horse carriage question. As of this morning, with more than 15,000 votes tallied, those in favor of the carriages remaining on the NYC streets are at 56%, while those in favor of the ban are at 42%. Click to vote. Updated December 5, 2014
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