Fox Hunting Life with Horse and Hound

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ballymacad1Ballymacad huntsman Kevin Donohoe with hounds at Archerstown. Following (l-r) are whippers-in Bobby Kellett, Maurice Quinn, and Irish MFHA trainee Keith Broderick.  / Noel Mullins photo

There is a rich history of hunting in County Meath, Ireland. The Sherbourne family kept a pack at Loughcrew, and the Ballymacad Foxhounds were founded there in 1797.

The Ice Age of 30,000 years ago made a massive contribution to foxhunting in the Ballymacad hunt country. The countryside is made up of drumlins, small tear drop-shaped hills such as found in the Carolinas in the U.S. Many are covered in gorse, and despite the weather if one looks underneath the cover there is always a snug dry base, which makes them natural homes for foxes. Add to that the small bogs and hazel woods and you have variety. Foxes don’t have far to travel, and prying eyes are easily avoided.

To hunt foxes successfully in this country, hounds need to be true to the line to reduce their opportunities of going to ground too quickly. The country is challenging; one needs a horse that can jump walls, wire, drains, double and single banks, and a rider that can stay on!

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