Fox Hunting Life with Horse and Hound

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Rupert Isaacson and Horse Boy

rupert and rowan isaacsonRupert Isaacson discovered that horses were therapeutically beneficial to his autistic son Rowan. Their lives grew from that starting point.

When we talk about Rupert Isaacson and "Horse Boy," we could be talking about him and his autistic son Rowan, his internationally best-selling book, his award-winning documentary film, and/or his world-wide organization that helps autism families.

Rupert was an avid foxhunter until other imperatives occupied his life. He is also a gifted and persuasive writer. But Rupert’s principal gift to humanity is a mind set that allows no limits on what is possible. No cause, no matter the odds, is hopeless to Isaacson, and time and again he has tilted at windmills and accomplished astonishing results.

Rupert was born in England and roamed the world as a travel and environmental writer, specializing in Africa. It was there that he came upon a cause that captured him totally—the displacement and removal of the Bushmen of the Kalahari from their traditional hunting grounds by their own government. Isaacson became a vigorous activist for the Bushmen, gave speeches, wrote a book about their plight, and arranged for the Bushmen to appear before the United Nations to plead their case. They won.

At about that time, Isaacson and his wife, then living in Texas, discovered that their infant son Rowan was autistic. Conventional treatment protocols—and they tried many—were unable to improve the boy’s most troubling behavioral problems, and Isaacson immersed himself into finding alternate solutions. He discovered that horseback riding while holding his son in front of him in the saddle was therapeutic for the boy. But only temporarily.

A New Keswick MFH: Her Story

nancy coverSandra Forbush photo

If you are wondering where in the Keswick countryside the cover picture was taken, you are observant. It was not taken in Keswick but at Massie’s Corner in Rappahannock County where I grew up. My father, Wade Massie, loved to hunt foxes. My Uncle Jim tells how Pop used to get on the school bus in the morning and get off a few stops later where there would be a horse waiting for him. He would hunt all day with Ennis Jenkins, Larry Jenkins’ father, and get back on the bus in the afternoon. His parents were none the wiser.

Later Jack Bruce helped Pop put together a pack of hounds which Clint Eastham, son of famous hound breeder C.C. Eastham, would hunt for him. (It is kind of fun to think about how I would hunt with hounds and people with a lot of the same bloodlines sixty years later).

Pop also hunted with Rappahannock and was a whipper-in there. Current Rappahannock Master Oliver Brown likes to tell a story about how Pop could make any horse quiet. One day a visitor from New Jersey had come down to hunt. The visitor's horse was rank, while Pop’s was going along well. Halfway through the day Pop offered to switch horses. By day's end Pop’s new mount was going along on the buckle, and the visitor’s horse was jigging all around.

Haight, White, Barclay Inducted into the Huntsmen's Room

mhh.andrew and shermanAndrew Barclay (left) and Sherman Haight congratulate eachother on the occasion of their mutual induction into The Huntsmen's Room at the Museum of Hounds and Hunting. / Douglas Lees photo

Three huntsmen, two living and one deceased, were honored the day before the Virginia Foxhound Show for their uncommon skill as huntsmen and for their contributions to foxhunting in North American. Sherman P. Haight, Jr., ex-MFH; William John White, Jr.; and Andrew T. Barclay were inducted into The Huntsmen’s Room of the Museum of Hounds and Hunting in ceremonies held at Morven Park on Saturday, May 23, 2015.

While recognized by this honor for their achievements in handling hounds in the field and producing the highest level of sport, each of these three men of disparate backgrounds contributed uniquely to our sport. Their stories are just as uniquely fascinating.

Tommy Hitchcock, Jr: Sportsman, War Hero

tommy hitchcock.polo2May 8, 2015 will mark the seventieth anniversary of V-E Day, Victory in Europe, the end of the Nazi menace. It’s a propitious time to remember a foxhunting sportsman named Tommy Hitchcock, Jr.

Most Foxhunting Life readers are familiar with his name. Born in Aiken, South Carolina, Hitchcock was an all-around sportsman, a foxhunter, and perhaps the greatest American polo player of all time. A ten-goal player by age twenty-two, Hitchcock led the U.S. team to their first victory in the 1921 International Polo Cup. He followed that feat by leading four teams to U.S. National Open Championships. In 1939, after the death of his mother, Louise Eustis Hitchcock, MFH of the Aiken Hounds, Tommy and his sister Helen founded what is know today as the Hitchcock Woods Foundation in Aiken—a magnificent gift to subsequent generations of horsemen and women from all across North America.

Perhaps less known, however, is the singular role that Hitchcock played in the winning of World War II. If not for Hitchcock, the date June 6, 1944 would most likely not be known to history as D-Day. The invasion of the European mainland would have necessarily been postponed. And if it hadn’t, thousands more Allied soldiers would have been slaughtered on the beaches by the German Air Force.