Fox Hunting Life with Horse and Hound

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Karen Stives Succumbs After Long Illness

karen stivesKaren Stives and Ben Arthur, 1984 Olympics

Olympic medal-winner Karen Stives died peacefully at her home in Dover, Massachusetts on August 14, 2015 after a five-year battle with cancer. She was sixty-four. Karen was a member of the Norfolk Hunt Club but her great passion was competition, and there she made history.

Karen showed hunters and jumpers successfully through the 1970s and then became smitten with eventing and dressage. She was the first woman to win an Individual Medal in an Olympic Three-Day Event, winning the individual Silver Medal in the 1984 summer Olympics in Los Angeles on her gray Irish-bred Ben Arthur. In doing so, she anchored the U.S. team in capturing the Team Gold Medal in the Three-Day Event that year. In 1982 she had represented the U.S. in the World Championship Three-Day Event at Luhmuhlen aboard her Thoroughbred horse, The Saint. She was the USEA Rider of the Year in 1981, 1987, and 1988.

In her induction into the USEA Hall of Fame, Karen is described as a “New England rider who rose to the top of international competition through sheer diligence, hard work, and plenty of natural ability, and is called a ‘small package with a thousand-pound brain,’ by longtime friend and colleague, Jim Wolf.  At one time she contemplated trying out for both the U.S. eventing and dressage teams in the same year—an idea she discarded after riding in two separate selection trials in the same weekend!”

The Stable Yard Is Silent

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The anniversary of the start of the First World War will be upon us July 28th. Four years ago, in England, on the hundredth anniversary of that terrible conflict, James Barcaly, ex-MFH, tossed and turned through the early morning hours. Thoughts of the war, the carnage that took its toll on James's family members, eighteen million people, eight million horses, and what those years meant to a way of life that was so much a part of the Barclay family ran through his head. He got out of bed, sat down, and wrote this poem. At 6:30 am he finished writing. Twenty minutes later the South Wold Foxhounds came up his drive on summer exercise, making his world right once again.

The stable yard is silent, no equine friends, no ears twitching over the doors.
Where have they gone? They have gone to Europe to fight a war.
Will they be back to graze the summer pastures green?
Will they be back to see the autumn mist and hear hounds running?
Will they be back to enjoy the fifty minutes across the grass?

They and their Masters have gone to defend our freedoms.
In mud and wire they toil, no end in sight,
But the thought of hounds running and their cry deep in their veins,
Make our horse and human friends dream, dream of
A cold winter’s night, hacking homewards with the moon up high.

Ned Bonnie, ex-MFH: Horseman, Equine Lawyer, Conservationist

ned bonnieEdward S. “Ned” Bonnie, ex-MFH of the Long Run Hounds (KY), died on Saturday, March 17, 2018, in Louisville, at age eighty-eight.

He was a Master at Long Run from 1988 to 2014 and served terms as a director of the Masters of Foxhounds Association. He was a complete horseman, conservationist, and a leading equine lawyer for top Thoroughbred breeding farms in Kentucky.

Michael Higgens: Gifted in Every Aspect of Foxhunting

Michael HiggensNoel Mullins photoThe passing of Michael Higgens earlier this year is a huge loss to the hunting world. He was truly gifted in every aspect of our great sport—exceptional huntsman, horseman, hound breeder, judge, raconteur. He found his true life’s vocation in foxhunting, and he found his true soul-mate in Yvonne McClintock, a partnership that stood the test of time.

Only last November, the Tipperary Foxhounds made a presentation to Michael, their former Master and huntsman, on his fiftieth season hunting with the Tipps. I interviewed Michael on a number of occasions, and he kindly penned the foreword for a book I wrote some years ago on biographies of thirty-one equestrian personalities, some living, and others that had passed on. He described my book as featuring “The departed, those about to depart, and those with no intention of departing”! I don’t think Shakespeare could have matched that for word-craft. Michael could always effortlessly find the most fitting expressions for every occasion.

William Gleeson: 1925–2017

Willie and Helen GleesonWillie Gleeson was Helen's first and only boyfriend.

Willie Gleeson, from Knocklong, County Limerick, Ireland, died on November 5, 2017. He was ninety-two.

Willie was known to just about every foxhunting visitor worldwide who ever hunted with the world-famous Scarteen Black and Tans. He hired out well-schooled, athletic field hunters that carried visitors safely over the imposing and sometimes treacherous banks and ditches of the Scarteen hunting country. Many of those visitors had never before faced such obstacles, but Willie's horses knew what to do!

Benjamin Hurt Hardaway, III, American Foxhunting Icon

ben hardaway cropBenjamin H. Hardaway, III, MFH died peacefully at his home on Thursday, October 19, 2017 at the age of ninety-eight. Funeral services were held Tuesday, October 24th. Interment at Linwood Cemetery was private. A memorial service was held at 2:00 pm, followed by a reception at Hardaway Hall in Midland, Georgia.

Ben was arguably the most widely-known American foxhunter throughout the foxhunting world and the most influential American breeder of foxhounds of the twentieth century. He had a passion for hunting all manner of wild game from his childhood days until his last. He hunted small game and birds with a gun, rabbits and coon with hounds, foxes with foxhounds and deer with lurchers.

He established the Midland Fox Hounds (GA) in 1950 and served as Master for sixty-seven years and huntsman for much of that period. He adored the July foxhound for its activity and aggressive hunting style, traits to which he could well relate. Ben’s favorite description of a successful foxhunt was “short, sharp, and decisive.”

Ron Black: A Foxhunting Purist

black.ron.cumbrian.fox.hunter.historianAuthor/historian Ron Black, a fourth-generation foot hunter who strove to preserve the foxhunting history of his beloved Cumbria.I never met Ron Black in person, but I knew him so well. We’d been carrying on an email friendship for years. Ron died of cancer on September 5, 2017.

Over the years our correspondence covered all sorts of subjects—foxhunting, politics, world affairs. (He was for Hillary, all the way.) He scoffed at us mounted foxhunters for our preoccupation with horses and fancy clothing, and he would start most notes with, “How are things in the Colonies?” His sense of history was a huge part of who he was. And it was to preserve the history of foxhunting in his beloved Cumbria, after the despised Hunting Act became law, that possessed him to start a website and begin collecting that history.

That’s how John Harrison became friends with Ron Black. Harrison is currently hunting the Deep Run Hunt (VA) foxhounds, but twenty years ago Harrison was huntsman for one of the storied foot packs in the Lake District, the Ullswater Foxhounds. Ron was writing a book about the Ullswater. It was the hunt of Harrison’s boyhood, and he had returned to England from Toronto and North York (ON) to take up the horn there. It is a hard and dangerous place: climbing borrans (stone piles), crags (cliffs), and crossing the scree beds (fallen stone from the crags). It’s country that would ruin a horse the first time out. Harrison hunted the Ullswater hounds on foot there for eighteen seasons before returning to North America three years ago.