Big Sky Hounds, winter image in relief. Photo by Scott Allsbrook.
Big Sky Hounds, with its pack of Walker Hounds, is the northernmost (latitudinal) cold-country pack in North America. The kennels are also located exactly at the confluence of the Madison, Jefferson, and Gallatin Rivers that create the Missouri River. We can hunt through winter because Montana doesn’t have as much snow or lake-effect weather as some Canadian counterparts. However, the extreme seasonal temperatures and conditions of Montana do present unique challenges to maintaining a happy, healthy pack of hounds, fit horses, and a predictable hunting schedule.
In June of 1982, Kim Walnes, a mother of two young children, stunned the eventing world by winning the Rolex Kentucky Advanced Three-Day Event on a gray gelding she had bought in Ireland and trained herself. The young mother, who hadn’t started eventing until the age of twenty-eight, was suddenly National Champion. Three months later, at the World Three-Day Championships in Luhmühlen, Germany, Kim and The Gray Goose earned the individual and U.S. team bronze medals.
Kim Walnes and The Gray Goose on the Advanced course of the 1981 Blue Ridge Horse Trials / Elizabeth Preznikoff photo
In 1983 I made my dream of competing in the Three-Day Event at Badminton a reality by writing letters for donations, holding bake sales, and soliciting sponsorships. We arrived in England several weeks early to get used to the different climate and footing; England in April was very different from Connecticut in that month!
Happy time for our author is sitting on a good horse and following a topnotch pack of hounds. She worries that incivility, personal attacks, and coarseness on the part of foxhunters on social media is harming our sport and our clubs.
As a twenty-two-year-old, I have grown up in the age of extreme technological and social media growth. Everyone has it; everyone uses it. I’ve also grown up in the hunting field and follow hounds three days a week. I travel to hunt and do my best to experience all types of hunting, all over.
My happy place is on a good horse, behind a great pack of hounds. The hunt field is the place where you can leave all other thoughts behind for a few hours and turn your focus to staying topside and keeping up with hounds. The hunt field is a place to be at peace, away from our own and the world’s struggles, whether big or small. But recently...
This scholarly examination of how English foxhunting and European manège schooling influenced warfare as it was waged and as it evolved over the last three centuries of European conflict is extracted from the author's forthcoming book, Horsemen, Horsesoldiers, and Grand Illusions by Professor Caramello, for the readers of Foxhunting Life.
Hunting on the Salonica Front by Lionel Edwards
An earlier article titled, “Siegfried Sassoon, Foxhunting, and the Great War” (Foxhunting Life, March 27, 2019), focused on Sassoon’s Memoirs of a Fox-Hunting Man (1928) and its companion volume Memoirs of an Infantry Officer (1932), semi-autobiographical works of Great War fiction. It proposed that Sassoon, in those works, developed a complex and nuanced comparison and contrast between fox hunting in untroubled English “countries” and trench fighting in the “waste land” of the Western Front. It also pointed out that Sassoon did not invent this parallel between fox hunting and warfare, but, on the contrary, was visiting, intentionally and pointedly, a recurring theme in British equestrian and military writing in the 18th and 19th centuries and the first decades of the 20th century: fox-hunting as ideal preparation for cavalry service and leadership. The following article briefly sketches some aspects of that theme.
If the predictions of Nostradamus should prove to be correct, by riding to hounds you may well be preparing to save your life. If Armageddon happens, you will know how to survive—just so long as it happens between August and December. In other words, during the hunting season.
Sounds a little ridiculous? Well, maybe, but ride along with me and learn how foxhunting might have already prepared you.
First “hunt,” age 5, riding a mini borrowed from the Dozier clan for Belle Meade’s annual beagle hunt.Time...where does it go? How could I have accumulated so many memories in such a short time? It seems like only yesterday that I was hunting with pure abandon, escaping from the realities of life, and enjoying nothing but the thrill of running wildly through the woods, listening to the cry of the hounds, feeling the cold air rushing past my ears, and at the end of the day relishing the after effects of the adrenalin rush. I had been hunting for about fifteen years or so.
Then, over the past few years (has it been six already?) there was a gradual change in life and attitude. Time passed, and with it some of the reckless abandon was replaced by a more conservative respect for staying in the saddle and on top of the horse. This was brought on by the responsibility I incurred when I decided that bringing my granddaughter, Alayna, into the hunt would be a good idea.
Tyler Johnson, Laura Fuller, and a "somewhat-official" hound truck
My daughter, Savannah, started riding with Belle Meade Hunt (GA) eight years ago at the age of twelve. I am not a rider. Yes, I have ridden (slowly, on a trail). Riding is her passion, not mine.
However, I am not a mom that wanted to just drop her kid off with a hug and a kiss and a “Have fun and be careful!” So, I started hitching rides with the kennelman in the old hound truck, or in the back of Unit One (another old pickup truck with not very comfortable tally-ho benches in the truck bed), or with pretty much anyone that would take pity and let me ride along.
Huntsman Colin Brown with foxhounds at the Great Lakes Invitational Hound ShowWe are extremely lucky this side of the pond when it comes to anti-foxhunting activities. We don't yet have the attacks on our sport that happen in the U.K. and are starting to appear in France.
But we don't need to rest on our good fortune. The Animal Rights movement is starting to attack deer hunters, their tree stands, and other hunting activities. We need to rally round each other to protect our sport with hounds. We have already seen attacks at some state levels, and Animal Rights activists are probing for weaknesses.
We can help our friends in the UK to combat their foes by supporting This is Hunting U.K. through their Facebook page. This organization was set up by James Barclay, ex-MFH, some five years ago following a concept paper I wrote for him after an epic conversation we had based on our heartfelt needs to combat the lies and rhetoric that the Animal Rights lobby had escalated in the world of social media.
Hunting country is a hunt's most precious asset. The late Mrs. Nancy Hannum, MFH, Mr. Stewart's Cheshire Foxhounds, set the bar for how to protect hunting country, hers just thirty miles from Philadelphia.
The season has started and so far so good. Young hounds are entering well and have been given the space and time to work things out. But every season brings headaches the Masters can well do without.
Most field members are blissfully unaware of the amount of year-round planning that goes into every day’s hunting. During the spring and summer Masters need to go and visit their landowners and make sure they are welcome for the following season. Secondly, they need to look further afield to increase their hunting country. Why? Because there are too many ways good country can be lost. Here’s one that I experienced.
Ronnie Wallace with the Eton College Beagles, where he set records as yet to be equalled.When we were beaglers with school or college packs we tried to be as professional as possible. At the Eaton Beagles we had a splendid fellow, Bill Perkins. He had been second whipper-in to a number of high class establishments, and as he told us all, he’d only come to the Eton Beagles in 1926 because he’d disagreed with Arthur French Blake over half a crown. He drummed into us the parade ground stuff, the handling of hounds from home, rigorous exercise, and obtaining hounds’ confidence.
He made us able to take hounds under strict control through the by-streets of Slough without a whipper-in. Later George Knight, Percy Durno, Bill Lander, Tony Collins, and now, Anthony Adams and Tony Wright were all trained to know there is a correct way of doing everything.