Fox Hunting Life with Horse and Hound

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pytchley hallThe Old Pytchley Hall

This poem, published in Baily’s in 1896, is not just timely (with Christmas and the New Year), but it links directly to contemporary subjects in two of our articles below: James Barclay’s "Sporting Tour" and "Remembering the Curre on Boxing Day." It’s a wistful poem, beginning with the  mystery of whence this wonderful hound named Dimple. The mystery is resolved at the end, but no hope of ever seeing her like again is imagined. Why? Because she comes from Wales, and the type of hound anointed as stylish and desirable by the elite English foxhunting establishment of the time would never even consider a different way.

However, the very fact that this poem was written demonstrates that some foxhunters of the time, indeed even the superlative Pytchley huntsman, Young Will Goodall,* yearned for something better. But change in the form of a direct challenge to the establishment wasn’t to come until the twentieth century, and even then the process was painful for all concerned. So, here’s what can be considered a poetic prelude to both the Modern English foxhound and the American-English Crossbred foxhound of today.

The Pytchley Hounds are running hard across the Badby Vale;
They fly like swallows on the wing, altho’ it blows a gale.
’Twould make an old man young, I swear, to see so brave a sight,
As scarlet flashes past, and gleams the Pytchley collar white.**

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