with Horse and Hound

Stanislaus Lynch

fox cubs.jim graham

With the Fox Cubs at Dusk

As the month of March advances to its close, we all know that newly-whelped fox cubs are at this very moment huddled out of sight and underground, not yet having seen nor felt the light of day. We wait and watch, hoping for a sight of them, but more likely contenting ourselves with occasional daylight views of the vixen or dog fox now working overtime day-shifts to feed a voracious and growing family. ―Ed.

fox cubs.jim grahamJim Graham photo

Yesterday I visited a Fort. It was one of the many great, circular, centuries-old Danish structures that are so numerous in this eastern part of County Cavan, Ireland. Its ramparts and fosses are still well-defined despite the ravages of ages. The inhabitants used it as their home in times of peace, and as their stockyard and stronghold when invasion threatened. The inhabitants evidently disliked isolation, and their fortress was erected on such well-chosen eminence that they were in full view of their neighbours on some adjoining hill; indeed it is a local belief that seven neighbouring forts are visible from any particular one.

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The Hillmen


Foxhunters and foxhounds in Cumbria have been hunting the fox from time immemorial in the magnificent Lake District on the English-Scottish border. It is a hard and dangerous place for hounds and humans alike—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, and so the hunting is on foot. Dangerous and exhausting enough to fill the Cumbrians with pride and feelings of purity for their special brand of hunting.

We don’t turn out in scarlet,
We are more at home in tweeds;
We have no aristocratic hounds
Or blood three figure steeds:
Our home is in the up-lands
Where the Great Creator spills
His richest browns and purples
On our everlasting hills

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irish ptp

Running Commentary on a Point-to-Point

irish ptp

Will yis stop pushing behind there or you'll land me into the ditch. Can you see the horses, Mary Ellen? They're down at the starting post; and I'll be down in this drain if yis don't quit shoving. Haven't you the whole country for a grand-stand, and why must you all crowd me off this one bit of a bank? There's lashings of room for all, if yis id have a bit of —. Oh, be the lord Harry! They're off! There's the hunting horn. Can you hear it, Mary Ellen? Great God, how the sound of it warms my old heart.

What a wonderful start! There's The Holy Terror lying third with our wee Jamesy riding him. Can you see his green jacket, Mary Ellen? They're coming to the first jump. God be with the day when I could show them boys how to ride a Point-to-Point: but these old rheumatics—these old rheumatics! Now they're at it. They're over. Wee Jamesy's there, Mary darling, and going like a Trojan. Now they're coming to the first bank. Jamesy's dropped back to fourth. That's what I like to see! Holding his horse together: just what his father would have done. Leave the pace-making to someone else.

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irish steeplechase

Riding a Point-to-Point

irish steeplechase

We are all lined up at the starting-post in the nearest thing to a straight line that a troublesome bay horse will allow. His green-clad rider is fighting desperately to prevent the brute from savaging every other fairly-well-behaved entrant in the race. Soon "Away you go! And good luck to you!" is heard as the flag drops; and the Starter sends a further God-speed to our thundering hooves with the merry notes of a "Gone Away" on his hunting horn.

The first fence looks like a strip of dark green canvas stretched between two groups of people. With a railing of human beings lining its approach on left and right, horses seem distracted, and treat the fence rather carelessly. Luckily it is only a simple gorse-built affair; though the horse on the left refuses it.

Flinging it behind, horses race away with renewed fury. The chestnut in front is setting a terrific pace. His rider endeavours to get him settled down, but with little success, and he leads over the first bank like a Derby winner. People are no longer crowding the fences and horses have less to distract them at their work. An open ditch yawns malevolently, but the pace affords scant opportunity for an examination of its width. A bank looms in front, and if that chestnut leads us to it at this pace some of us will see the inside view of an ambulance. Every stride makes it grow bigger. The chestnut's at it he's over; bay beside him crashes—went too close and hit his knees two horses out of it already. "Hey! Don't ride me in on top of him! Pull over!"

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echoes of the hunting horn.lynch.whitmore

Taking a Toss

Another short story from the author’s Echoes of the Hunting Horn. Every foxhunter with warm blood will relate to the jumble of self-accusations tumbling through the author’s mind after getting tossed.

echoes of the hunting horn.lynch.whitmoreHounds are running hard for the past twenty minutes. Not a semblance of a check. The pace is terrific over a magnificent line of country with big sensible banks. One fairly-wide river, the honest variety, no slime or sponge-like edges; not a trace of wire anywhere. Horse never put a foot wrong since the Gone-Away . . . blowing somewhat now, though; last big wall took some negotiating. It seems to have thinned the already select field to a mere dozen. Thank Heaven for the down-hill gallop after that last stiff hill; horse's wind feels easier now. Out on the left, riders are heading for a gate. It seems a long way off, and this wall does not seem such a terrifying rasper. Come on, old Challenger, the wall will save time. Steady now, not so fast. Slower still, slower I say, Hup! Over! God bless us, oblivion.

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image.olive whitmore

The Thrill of “Tally-Ho!”

The works of Irish sporting journalist Stanislaus Lynch were published in and around the middle of twentieth century. Earlier this month Foxhunting Life re-published a short story from his book, Echoes of the Hunting Horn. We heard from so many readers who enjoyed it, we decided to re-publish another.

One reader in the UK wrote, “I enjoyed it so much I bought the book from a second hand book shop, and it's lovely!” Another reader forwarded it to a friend in Ireland who actually remembers hunting with Lynch on a day he had a frightening fall. We’ve included her account at the end of this story.

image.olive whitmore"A wave of dappled fury" / Illustration by Olive Whitmore

There are some delightful occasions in outdoor life when immediate happenings are so engrossingly interesting that any misbehaviour of the elements is completely overlooked, and one forgets one is being slowly, but surely, soaked to the skin. A coat-collar may be turned up, the action being more mechanical than protective. The shelter of a high hedge may even be sought, but high hedges seldom exist on a bleak mountain-side, as the mountain wind rarely allows tall whitethorns to add syncopation to the weird monotony of its rhythm. One can only stay still, forget the down-pour, and watch hounds.

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echoes of the hunting horn.cropped.lynch.olive whitmore

The Worst Hunt on Record

I’m wondering how many foxhunters will identify with this escapade. Your editor certainly does. Though, thankfully, in the two experiences I have in mind, the rascals were at least honest enough---indeed more than enthusiastic enough---to jump the fences!

echoes of the hunting horn.cropped.lynch.olive whitmoreIllustration by Olive Whitmore

I knew by the wag of his head that he was a bit-of-a-lad. When I mounted him he flung his bit-bars in truculent resentment. When I jogged off, his jaws took a vice-like hold of the bit, his head poked sideways and, if horses wore hats, his would have been very definitely "on the Kildare side." I soon discovered that it was a waste of energy to attempt to alter his head-position. His jaws were rigid, his neck inflexible, in fact, everything in front of the saddle seemed to be set in reinforced concrete. Reins are ornamental accoutrements on hobby-horses: mine were just as effective.

I had been told he was the heart and soul of a rascal, but as I have ridden, and occasionally fallen off, every conceivable brand of rascal, I felt I could forestall any equine acrobatics which he might have under consideration. His owner had given me the animal's whole character; that is, of course, assuming that there was a shred of it left to give to anyone; and I had gladly accepted the offer of a day's hunting, character or no character! Two stable companions had had a hard hunt the previous day, a third was lame and a fourth had a cough; so it was ride this old reprobate or nothing.

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