with Horse and Hound


river vally1

Horse Trailers and Safety: A Reminder

For your horse's safety, here's a reminder that springtime is a good time to take stock of your horse trailer and have it inspected by an expert. We asked an experienced dealer for her recommendations.

river vally1River Valley aluminum side and rear loading tag-along

"One of the first issues to address with trailer owners and buyers is horse safety and comfort," says trailer dealer Donna Martin, co-owner of the Ruckersville, Virginia-based Blue Ridge Trailers. Martin said most people who have started to research their options know they should compare trailer sizes and floor plans to the size of their horses. However, she noted that there are several other angles to consider, too.

“While you certainly want to have enough space for your horse to feel comfortable, you should also prioritize light and ventilation, as well as how the horses will stand and balance themselves,” she advised. “How you intend to work out of the trailer also is an important consideration.”

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dunraven.louis murphy serves.dunraven

The Dunraven Arms

dunraven.louis murphy serves.dunravenLouis Murphy carves Dunraven's famous roast beef at tableside. / Catherine Power photo

There can be few hotels that are so intrinsically linked to their owners or the world of the horse as the Dunraven Arms in Adare, Ireland. An institution, it has been a welcoming home to generations of North American foxhunters, and indeed, families across the sporting world. Once you enter that famed revolving door you are struck by the quiet elegance, and you won’t have taken too many steps before you will meet one of the Murphys, Louis or Brian and more latterly Brian’s son Hugh. Brian and Louis were born and brought up in Athenry, County Galway where their father PF (Paddy) was a veterinary surgeon and a keen hunting and racing man. He bred and produced many useful horses such as Orient War and Fred Octerri who went on to win the Sweeps Hurdle.

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windemeet 1

Hunting in Style on Dartmoor: Where and How?

windemeet 1Watching huntsman and hounds draw across Dartmoor, 365 square miles of wild, open, and uniquely English moorland.

“I hope they’re feeding Royally properly,” murmured my grandmother (ninety-three), as she departed peacefully from this earth. Sixty years earlier, back in 1926, the foxhunter and show rider had won the ‘Girls Hunter’ class at London’s International Horse Show, riding her beloved Right Royal side-saddle, and I don’t think anything ever quite matched up. I’m gazing at her huge cup as I write.

Little did anyone dream that I’d continue the family equine theme, but earlier this year I opened a new business for experienced riders from around the world, offering riding and hunting holidays direct from my home, Wydemeet. Nestled in the heart of remotest Dartmoor—the wildest, most open landscape in Southern England—Wydemeet sits at the cusp of all four Dartmoor hunts: Dartmoor, South Devon, Spooners and West Dartmoor, and the Mid-Devon Foxhounds.

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Hunt Week at Lowcountry

lowcountry.LoriAuthor and Oz midst the Spanish moss, away down south

This trip was to be the first vacation I have been on for a long time, thanks mostly to our “special” naked cat Alf. With a tendency to occasionally attempt to have sex with a sleeper’s head, hallucinate, or attack without provocation, there are no house sitters lining up for the job of caring for him in our absence. Likewise, no family members or friends. Prozac or no Prozac. That, along with my employer’s— Kaiser Permanente’s—death sentence for time taken off, has us often traveling separately, if at all.

Staying home has not been a hardship since I am happiest at home, but with our horrific winter this year, this nervous traveler headed south on a trip I had watched people enjoy without me for several years. The bastards.

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Foxhunters on Horseback: Exploring Dartmoor

IMG 2943(Front to back) The author, Rosie Campbell, MFH, Live Oak huntsman Spencer Allen, his father Chris Allen, and two friends explore Dartmoor National Park, with Liberty Trail hosts Elaine and Robert Prior.

The first morning there was heavy mist across the moors, and visibility was limited. What I could see looked exactly like I imagined a scene from Hound of the Baskervilles or Jamaica Inn. Ghostly hedges revealed hidden farmyards, complete with thatched roof cottages and low barns.

We had come to Dartmoor National Park in Exeter, England to ride across the famous moors for a couple of days before continuing onto Devon and Cornwall. Rosie Campbell, MFH of Bull Run Hunt (VA), her husband Chris Allen and son-in-law Spencer Allen, and my husband Michael and I had driven down to Bovey Castle from London on Tuesday. It had been cool, with some showers, and by 4:00 pm we met in the lovely sitting room for a traditional Devon cream tea. Delicious and decadent. We had it only once! Buttery biscuits, topped with berry jam and then the cream, which really looks like butter, is so good.

Bovey Castle is a luxurious spa in the heart of Dartmoor and caters to hunting and fishing activities of all sorts. They have partnered with Liberty Trails, the equine brainchild of Elaine and Robert Prior, which offers riding holidays across these moors made famous by Sherlock Holmes and more recently, Stephen Spielberg's movie, War Horse.

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Hedge-Hopping in England

My top moment of any Blackthorn & Brook holiday comes as our guests pull up after a run having encountered their first hedge. They make a fuss of their horse, turn to me and grin.

“I see what you mean about sitting up!” is a recurring comment.

Hedge-hopping is a much discussed feature of our holidays. The subject is met with excitement, trepidation, anticipation, fear, bravado, and everything in between, as it really is an unknown quantity for the majority of our American guests.

With this in mind, we have put together a short video and accompanying blog below, explaining a little of how we prepare ourselves and our horses for popping the hedges in style. What follows is a collection of basic principles that work for us. If anyone has questions or comments—challenges, improvements, ideas—we'd love to hear from you.

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A Dream Fulfilled

bb.deb1(l-r) Megan, Deb, and Marti

The inspiration for this trip happened quite by accident. While traveling with cousins in the southwestern part of England in May of 2012 , we happened to stop for a Sunday roast at the pub in the tiny hamlet of Highclere Castle, the home of the wonderful television series, Downton Abbey.

We had missed, by a day, a trail ride on the grounds of the castle. My cousin Marti and I have taken many riding trips and are always looking for a new adventure. We began to dream of a trip in England where we would ride in some of the places that we had read about all of our lives in English novels but had never seen. As we visited the Exmoor and the Dartmoor, the haunts of wild ponies and the characters of Daphne du Maurier, we became more excited. We did not, however, have any idea how to accomplish our vision.

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henry alken.the finish

The Golden Age of Hunting?

henry alken.the finishThe Finish by Henry Alken

Foxhunters often evoke the nineteenth century as the belle-époque of English foxhunting. This may have to do with the extensive documentation provided by the famous artists and writers of the time. The efforts of Nimrod, Alken, and friends immortalized an age of rollicking runs across open countryside, dashing horsemen and women, and fine stout foxes flying across hill and dale.

Whilst The Golden Age as it is known has long since provided a benchmark of foxhunting excellence and excitement, we note that today’s foxhunters are blessed with some decided advantages.

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Cubbing with the BSV 2010

A Visitor’s View

Cubbing with the BSV 2010It was an unrivalled invitation: to spend two months hunting in the United States with Anne McIntosh, MFH of the Blue Ridge Hunt (VA). As a hunting-mad Brit who’d grown up with the West Country packs of my native Somerset, I was intrigued to learn about the tradition of the sport on the other side of the pond.

Coming over to help with Anne’s horses, I took particular interest in the type and manners of what I would usually call hunters, soon learning they were called field hunters stateside. What struck me was their condition. A sunny American summer was as evident in the bloom on these horses’ coats as in the suntans on their riders! The fact that the majority of these horses also live out throughout the hunting season (which would be impossible with our muddy British winters) I think contributed to their impeccable manners and relaxed temperaments.

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The Traveling Foxhunter

Sport is in full swing across North America now, and foxhunters are on the move—visiting friends in other hunts, seeking new experiences, attending hunt weeks in distant hunting countries, and responding to long-standing invitations. Long ago, I learned the hard way that a travel checklist is a must. So here are my personal checklists—one for me and one for my horse—that I print out fresh before every trip. Using them won’t guarantee an incident-free trip, as I once discovered after leaving all my tack behind in the stable driveway. But barring such stupidity on your part, they will go a long way in assuring that you have what you need when you get there! Go to the Resources drop-down menu, and click on Checklist under the Travel category. Print the lists for yourself and check off as you pack. Let us know what’s missing, so we can add it for the next traveling foxhunter.... This content is for subscribers only.Log In Join Now
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