with Horse and Hound

The Whipper-In Revealed

2012 11 23cheshire-0172Stephanie Boyer, professional whipper-in, Mr. Stewart’s Cheshire Foxhounds (PA): “I am the huntsman’s eyes and ears, and I have to be honest with him at all times concerning what I see, whether he wants to hear it or not!” / Jim Graham photoYou may have noticed that the whipper-in has been Foxhunting Life’s theme this week. We field members watch these heroic figures, intent in their mission, standing in the irons, galloping on, claiming their “right-of-way” when passing the field, but what do they actually do?

For the answer to this question, read “The Whipper-In Is the Huntsman’s Right Hand” below.

The article “Whipper-In: What’s in a Name?” compares the differing agendas of the professional versus the honorary whipper-in and examines the best use of the whip they carry. “The Galloping Whip” by Brooksby is a poetic tribute to Charles Isaac, a nineteenth century whipper-in with the Pytchley (UK).

For anyone with aspirations to whipping-in one day, a particularly useful book devoted to the subject is Whipper-In by Dennis Foster, Executive Director of the MFHA. Indeed, it’s a good read for anyone interested in how the whipper-in, huntsman, and hounds work together in the field.

According to Peter Beckford, the whipper-in can be the decisive ingredient in turning a mediocre hunting day into a brilliant one. Here’s what he had to say in his classic, ageless 1781 treatise, Thoughts on Hunting.

“In a country full of riot, where the covers are large, and where there is a chase full of deer and full of game….I should prefer an excellent whipper-in to an excellent huntsman (italics ours)…. The whipper-in, if he have genius, may show it in various ways: he may clap forward to any great earth that may, by chance, be open [so as to keep the fox above ground]; he may sink the wind [gallop downwind] to halloo, or mob a fox [to slow it down, I presume], when the scent fails; he may stop the tail hounds, and get them forward; and has it frequently in his power to assist the hounds, without doing them any hurt, provided he should have sense to distinguish where he may be chiefly wanted.”

charlie lewis.bella vitaCharlie Lewis, MFH and honorary whipper-in, Belle Meade Hunt: “”If whippers-in I have mentored forget everything else, I hope they remember three things: (1) have fun, (2) safety of hounds is paramount, and (3) be the eyes and ears of the huntsman.” / Ingrid Krampe photo

When huntsman and whipper-in work well together, it is a seamless flowing ballet hardly noticeable by the field. The huntsman relies on the whipper-in to be in the right place and to do the right thing, and the whipper-in anticipates what the huntsman expects. There is a minimum of communication and noise, and the only sounds to be heard are the huntsman’s horn and the cry of hounds!

We hope you will enjoy and be informed by these articles in our special salute to the whipper-in.

Posted November 22, 2013