with Horse and Hound

Why This Foxhunter Cares About Horseracing

norman_on_SlimKaren L. Myers photo

Over the past couple of months we have run a few News items about the Triple Crown season, kicked off just last Saturday by the Kentucky Derby. We wrote about Uncle Mo, who many in the Thoroughbred industry hoped would be a legitimate Triple Crown contender and breathe new life into the industry. We wrote about Rosie Napravnik who with nearly one thousand wins to her credit hoped to be the first woman to win the Kentucky Derby. True, this isn’t foxhunting, and the question arises whether or not I should be publishing these stories in Foxhunting Life. Why do I?

My answer is because that’s where our great horses come from. The Thoroughbred is the elite athlete of the equine world, and many of our field hunters are off-the-track Thoroughbreds, Thoroughbred crosses, or have Thoroughbred bloodlines in their foundation stock.

If when you take to the field you care at all about grace, generosity, and/or athleticism, you have to thank those bloodlines and those beautiful dreamers—the breeders, trainers, owners, and jocks—who commit their lives, their fortunes, and all their energies to the mostly unforgiving quest of producing a better racehorse. And except for one happy outcome last Saturday, weren’t the hopes of many of those beautiful dreamers cruelly dashed?

I’ve had a number of Thoroughbred field hunters, and the knowledge of their bloodlines and racing record—good or bad—has definitely enhanced my riding enjoyment. One of my field hunters is a Secretariat grandson through his sire. That may have no real significance in the hunting field, but the knowledge of his pedigree does give me great pleasure. I ruminate, as I’m astride this horse, on the royal blood coursing beneath me, and I think about all the breeders that mixed these powerful genetic concoctions into their dreams to produce my horse.

I was just as proud of another Thoroughbred hunter I had who managed, in the course of his racing career at Aqueduct, to win a grand total of $390. The drama for me was not in the winnings, but in the fabled history of the breed and the mostly unfulfilled hopes and dreams of horsemen and horsewomen who would never think of changing course. So although I’m not an active and knowledgeable racing fan throughout the season, I do wax romantic about these elite horses every year about this time. I hope I’m not alone.

I’m reminded that after Kelso retired from racing Mrs. Allaire duPont took him foxhunting with the Vicmead Hunt in Delaware and the Andrew’s Bridge Hunt in Pennsylvania. We can’t all hunt a Kelso or his ilk, but FHL invites you to submit your comments or your stories about Thoroughbreds in your hunting life.

Posted May 9, 2011