Fox Hunting Life with Horse and Hound

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The Lathom Remount Depot of World War I

wwi horse

The horror of the First World War is much on the minds of our English sporting friends this summer as the world marks the hundredth anniversary of that conflict. Foxhunters there are especially moved in remembering the terrible toll taken on the world’s equine population in numbers unequaled before or since.

Ron Black in Cumbria, England—a frequent contributor to Foxhunting Life—has published a ninety-seven-page collection of research, memoir, and poetry (Will Ogilvie included!) about the horses and mules that served, which he has made available to FHL readers via download.

When the supply of British horses and mules was exhausted, animals were shipped from the United States, Canada, and Australia. Ron tells the story of how they were purchased, crossed the ocean, trained, moved overland to battle, and what happened to the survivors.

Click to download The Lathom Remount Depot of World War I by Ron Black. The download is free, but Ron asks downloaders to make a small donation to any equine charity.

Posted September 1, 2014

A Horse Did That

caroline thomasEach summer, before Saratoga gets rolling in August, the advance teams arrive and get to work. Here’s what it was like for Joe Clancy. Lucky there was a horse around to help.

OK, breathe.

As usual, I spent the first two days of the meet hassling through any number of issues including—but by no means limited to—computer networks, the Internet, advertisements, articles, photography, housing, office space, bicycles, paper racks, paper boxes, a new printer.

Then came distributiongate and what now seem like days (but merely hours I guess) of telephone calls and discussions and wonder and angst. In the end, it all worked out. The computers communicated with everything. The ads showed up. We finished the first paper, we weathered a storm.

T'Breds Perform Gymnastic Feats at Elkridge-Harford Races timbHold Your Fire (Gus Dahl up) went on to win the Open Timber Race. / Douglas Lees photoThe ultimate equine athlete—the Thoroughbred—saved the bacon for at least two riders at the Elkridge-Harford Point-to-Point Races at Atlanta Hall Farm, in Monkton, Maryland on Saturday, April 5, 2014.

In the first race, Open Timber, Hold Your Fire led the field into the last fence, where he caught his right front on the top rail. Robbed of momentum, he twisted his rear end fully ninety degrees to get his hind end over. Rider Gustav Dahl stayed in the middle, and the pair went on to win the race. Click on Doug Lees’s brilliant photograph to see the three-shot sequence.

This was trainer Elizabeth Voss Murray’s first of two wins on the day. Ms. Murray, daughter of the late Tom Voss, is a new Master of the Elkridge-Harford Hunt.

Timber Horses Romp at Piedmont timberRunning for the Rokeby Bowl are (l-r) winner Dakota Slew (Robert Walsh up) and Zulla Road (Woods Winants up). / Douglas Lees photo

Virginia point-to-point fans were treated to a full weekend of racing on March 22 and 23, 2014. The Piedmont Fox Hounds Point-to-Point went off as scheduled on Saturday and the Blue Ridge Hunt races, postponed from their original date, were held on Sunday. In a spirit of cooperation, races over fences were split so that Piedmont ran timber races and Blue Ridge ran just hurdle (brush) races, thus assuring a good field of entries for each specialty.

In the Open Timber Race, Zulla Road (Woods Winants up) set the pace for the first mile, but Dakota Slew ridden by Robert Walsh took control from there to the wire. Skunked ran a strong second, but Dakota Slew in prevailing notched his second consecutive Rokeby Bowl win. Dakota Slew is owned by Magalen Bryant and trained by Richard Valentine. Ms. Bryant shared last season’s Virginia Leading Owner title with Pennsylvanian Irvin Naylor. Although Winants pulled up Zulla Road in that race, the fourth on the card, he had earlier shown his 2013 Virginia Leading Rider form by winning the first two races of the day, Maiden Timber and Amateur Highweight Timber.

Fout Saddles Three Winners at Warrenton timber2Aero, Kieran Norris up, wins Open Timber at Warrenton. / Doug Lees photoTrainer Doug Fout and jockey Kieran Norris—the latter just out of the Novice Rider ranks this season—accounted for three wins at the Warrenton Hunt Point-to-Point at Airlie Race Course, Warrenton, Virginia on Saturday, March 15, 2014. Warrenton’s was the first hunt race to go off as scheduled this wintry spring season.

Fout’s and Norris’s three winners included Aero in the Open Timber Race. Aero settled into the third position in a three-horse, closely-bunched field. With a half mile to run, Aero drew up to the leader and pulled away in the final quarter mile for the win. Aero is owned by Alfred C. Griffin, Jr.

How We Match the Foxhunter to the Hireling

coopers hillMidnight, a 16-hh black Irish cob at Coopers Hill is everyone's favorite, young and old.

How do I match riders I have never met with horses that will take care of them out hunting? The answer to that question starts with how the animal was gentled into riding and jumping to begin with. That’s the key.

It takes a number of years to get a horse hunting right. Anyone who hunts knows that you can get pullers, stoppers, and downright cranky horses. And then there are the ones that kick, bite, and buck. An odd buck of joy is fine, but the buck that is directed toward the rider’s dismount is coming from a horse that wasn’t respected and won’t give respect.

Down through the years the locals have brought very difficult animals to our yard for breaking. But we like to turn that word—breaking—on its head. We prefer to say we gentle and respect the animal and allow them the time to come to the conclusion that it is okay to accept the bit, okay to be brushed, okay to have their feet lifted up, to be saddled and eventually mounted. Some animals accept sooner than others simply because some trust sooner than others. The manner in which this is done determines the product—the horse—you are going to mount for your day’s hunting.