Fox Hunting Life with Horse and Hound

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Here you will find reviews of, selections from, and commentaries concerning books, many of which don't even appear on Amazon's radar. But what goldmines for the literate foxhunter!

The Hare that Must Be Fox

A third condensed installment from We Go Foxhunting Abroad: A First Venture with the Irish Banks and English Downs, Charles D. Lanier’s 1924 account of a father-daughter sporting trip to Ireland and England.

irish hareIrish hare

We decided that our new sensation would be a trial of Irish harehunting, so to Watergrass Hill we flivvered, to the meet of Mr. Robert Hall’s private pack of harriers. The Master was a slender, wiry, grey-haired man of seventy years, aquiline of countenance, with a singularly winning eye and smile under his velvet cap. He and his whipper-in were, of course, in green, and a dozen or so of the field of thirty or forty also wore the correct harrier colors.

Mr. Hall had the pride of an Irishman and a sportsman in his fifteen couple of huge Kerry “beagles,” and I think it would have been a hard blow to him if luck had been denied us that day. But it turned out to be a red letter day; I think we enjoyed having it so even more for the intense satisfaction it gave our enthusiastic host than for the sport intrinsically, which was of the very best and a revelation to us, who had not before followed a strong South Irish hare.

Sheep May Safely Graze

sheep may safely graze.clancySheep May Safely Graze, L.M. Clancy, 2015, 423 pages, paperback, $14.95, available at AmazonIrish sporting artist Liam Clancy has expanded his repertoire. He’s written a novel.

While foxhunting, prodigious drinking, and sex are well-handled ingredients of Clancy’s story—which takes place mostly in Ireland and England—those ingredients are only a framework upon which hangs a larger story of people, relationships, and the times. Our times: the Millennial, hunt sabs, the pathos of the hoof and mouth epidemic, the runup to the hunting ban, the dagger thrust into the heart of the English countryside by a government focused elsewhere.

If the publishing industry were not in turmoil, as it has been for the last decade at least, and if publishers would give first-time novelists half-a-chance, Clancy’s book could well replace titles by authors with household names that now occupy undeserved spots on the Best Seller lists. His dialog crackles, and his characters are wholly-formed individuals that you will care greatly for. Think of Maeve Binchy on steroids.

The Second Whip

second whip.gilbert hollidayIllustration by Gilbert HollidayOver he goes, with a crash and a rattle,
   Hound couples clinking, ’gainst saddle and thigh;
Over he goes, and the light of the battle
   Gleams like a spark in his eager young eye.

Twigs of the hawthorn fly backward together,
   Meeting again with an ominous swish;
Over he goes, landing light as a feather,
   One with his horse and quick as you’d wish.

Kinds and condition of fences don’t matter,
   Straight as a ramrod he rides at them all;
Over he goes with a bang and a clatter,
   Knocking loose stones off the top of the wall.

Outward Bound

In juxtaposition to these times of fast and affordable air travel to and from England and Ireland for hunting holidays, here’s a look back to a 1924 account of a leisurely (and dramatic) father-daughter sea voyage—their first—to go foxhunting on the other side. It was also a different era for world events, as readers will note.

Author Charles D. Lanier was MFH of the Fairfield County Hounds (later the Fairfield and Westchester Hounds) from 1915 to 1921. His seventeen-year-old daughter, referred to as “B,” was Becky Lanier, later Becky Sharp, MB of the Nantucket Beagles, and still later Joint-MB of the Nantucket-Treweryn Beagles, who, along with her husband Joint-MB David “Bun” Sharp passed away in 1987.

becky lanierBecky Lanier, 1920

What follows is a condensed version of Chapter 1, “Outward Bound," from Charles Lanier's We Go Foxhunting Abroad: A First Venture with the Irish Banks and English Downs published in 1924. Subsequent chapters in condensed form will appear through the remaining summer months.