Fox Hunting Life with Horse and Hound

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Foxhunting Tips

nodh.klmKaren Myer photoYou just received the most beautiful fox head earrings last week for your birthday. Won’t they look smashing in the hunting field, worn with your new dark blue frock coat?

You just heard a staccato burst of perhaps ten rapid notes on the huntsman’s horn from inside the covert. What’s happening?

Your blood is up, hounds are racing in full cry, your horse is jumping every obstacle with enthusiasm, and it’s clearly the best run of the season. You gallop through an open gate and repeat the call you heard from riders ahead of you. “Gate, please!” Have you fulfilled your duty?

The whipper-in gallops by and advises the Field Master that a leash of foxes just left the covert. What?

Et Tu, New York Times?

pawing3Teddy, pawing the pavement  /  Sketch of New York TImes photo
Damon Winter, writing cut lines for a New York Times article about Mayor Bill de Blasio’s attempts to ban horse drawn carriages in New York City, got taken. In so doing, the Times published fake news.

Here's Winter's caption for the photo sketched above: “Teddy signaling his desire for more food by scraping his shoes on the sidewalk.”

Oh, we get it alright. We're supposed to believe that poor Teddy is being starved and abused by his carriage driver.

What happened to fact-checking here? Obviously, Winter knows nothing about horses, nor do the animal activists that fed him that line. And if they do know something about horses, that’s even worse. They would know there are many reasons for a horse to scratch the ground aside from hunger, and would be knowingly lying.

Foxhunters Speak: Meet Author at Virginia Foxhound Show

kalergis cover.midsizeMary Kalergis’s new book Foxhunters Speak was launched this spring. Mary will be in the Foxhunting Life stand at the Virginia Foxhound Show to greet readers and sign her books. Please stop by and say hello.

We’ve published two sneak previews of Mary’s book over the last couple of months in FHL WEEK. I hope you had a chance to read Melvin Poe’s story in March and Tot Goodwin’s story in April. It’s as if you had sat down with each of these respected huntsmen in their own dens, shared a tumbler, listened to the experiences that formed their personal hunting philosophies, and met the mentors who shaped them.

Melvin and Tot represent just two of fifty foxhunting personalities whom Mary sought out, sat with, and interviewed. Her experience in this genre shows. She’s published similar books on subjects from teenagers to adoption to childbirth. She’s traveled the country for her  interviews and edited them into coherent essays that are both personal and frank. Now she’s done it for the foxhunting world, and I heartily recommend it. Even the interview of ten-year-old Colin Smith, son of a professional huntsman, is charming.

Dartmoor and Doyle

dartmoor ponies.janetladnerJanet Ladner photo

Photographer Janet Ladner was out following the Mid-Devon Foxhounds when she came across these wild ponies taking shelter from the snow. I have hunted on Dartmoor, in England’s West Country, and found it to be a fascinating landscape of bleakness and beauty, with visible reminders of cultures that serially take one back in time all the way to prehistory. While hunting, one comes across ditches left by tin mining activity that began in pre-Roman times and continued to the twentieth century, evidence of farm tillage going back to the Bronze age in the parallel rows running across the slopes, and standing stones erected in prehistoric times. During quiet moments when hounds check, one can allow the imagination to soar.

For me, Dartmoor also conjures memories of cold winter boyhood days at home, reading the spooky mystery, Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle. It was the third of his Sherlock Holmes novels to be published, and this Dartmoor mystery filled my young head with delicious terror.

By coincidence, Janet Ladner’s photos of the ponies on Dartmoor arrived just as writer/editor Steve Price sent me this foxhunting poem, written by Arthur Conan Doyle. A confluence of Dartmoor and Doyle. Who knew he wrote such poetry?

Bull Run Hunt On a Spree at Belle Meade

bull runs spree

Bull Run’s Spree was the top scoring foxhound in the Belle Meade Hunt Foxhound Performance Trials held in Thomson, Georgia on January 20 and 21, 2017. Of thirty-six hounds competing, Spree won three of the four scoring categories: Hunting, Trailing, and Endurance. In the Full Cry category, he was second.* His combined score led the field in points.

Six foxhounds from each of six hunts competed—Belle Meade Hunt (GA), Bridlespur Hunt (MO), Bull Run Hunt (VA), Farmington Hunt (VA), Fox River Valley Hunt (IL), and Mill Creek Hunt (IL). The three top scoring hunts, based on the combined scores of their hounds from first to third, were: Bull Run, Fox River Valley, and Belle Meade.

Trial Huntsman Sam Clifton was called upon during the award ceremonies to announce his choice—the hound he’d most like to take back to his own kennels. Huntsman’s Choice is an honorary award and receives no official prize, but, as in past trials, Sam’s reasoning for his personal choice was worth hearing.