with Horse and Hound

Matthew Mackay-Smith, DVM

fox and mouse.doug pifer

A Brush With a Fox

fox and mouse.doug piferIllustration by Doug Pifer

The late Matthew Mackay-Smith—internationally renowned veterinarian, editor of EQUUS magazine, foxhunter, and elite endurance rider—began foxhunting at the age of eight behind his late father, Alexander Mackay-Smith (ex-MFH, author, and longtime editor of The Chronicle of the Horse). Matthew left a treasure trove of hunt reports and countryside observations which, thanks to the permission of Matthew’s wife, Winkie, FHL will publish from time to time.

In my veterinary rounds in the country of Mr. Stewart’s Cheshire Foxhounds (PA), I often took a shortcut by using West Road, a primitive gravel lane with grass between the tire tracks. There, on a blustery March afternoon, I spied a feminine fox upwind of me, nonchalantly toting half a rabbit. In the gloaming, she was heading toward her den with the family supper. I stopped. She stopped, too, but oblivious of me. She was maybe fifty feet away.

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Amazing, Amusing Day

BRH-20081224-09---PortraitMatthew Mackay-Smith, DVMJust because we’re between seasons doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy a hunting tale now and again. Matthew Mackay-Smith, DVM is an internationally-known veterinarian, co-founder and former medical editor of Equus magazine, and a member of Foxhunting Life’s Panel of Experts. The following account transpired twenty-five years ago. Your editor was there and can vouch for its veracity!  -Ed

On Thanksgiving Saturday, the day of the 1986 Blue Ridge Hunt Ball, hounds started the festivities with some most unusual and unforgettable sport. An eager field of fifty followers, including lots of visitors and a dozen children, met hounds and hacked east into the Annefield meadow along Chapel Run. With adjustments to tack scarcely complete, hounds were sent to whipper-in Bobby Pillion’s immediate view halloa upstream.

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Hunting with my Father

September 15, 1939
For my seventh birthday, I was led by my father—Alexander Mackay-Smith—to a next-door meet, at dawn, at Guilford. My attention was everywhere, not focused. The science, art, customs, and language of foxhunting were not known to me. Dogs started barking (hounds opened) in the woods (covert), and swung right-handed. Everyone’s eyes and ears except mine were on the sounds in front of us. What to my wandering eyes should appear but a fox off to the right, headed north along the fence row.

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