Fox Hunting Life with Horse and Hound

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Expert Witness Testimony Discredited By a Kiss; UK Huntsman Found Not Guilty

Professor Stephen Harris is an opponent of hunting and was serving as an expert witness in the prosecution of a huntsman on trial in the UK for illegally hunting the fox with dogs. Harris's testimony was thrown out, however, after he was seen being kissed by another witness. That witness was known to be a veteran anti-hunting campaigner, and the cozy relationship between the two eloquently refuted Harris’s supposed role as an independent witness.

Professor Harris argued that he was kissed before he could stop the kisser. But Wills’ defense counsel, Stephen Welford, argued that the kissee could no longer be regarded as an independent witness in the case, given his demonstrably close relationship with the woman, another prosecution witness.

District Judge Tim Daber agreed, saying, “The allegation of bias specific to this particular case is something that in my view the court cannot ignore. A reasonable observer would consider him to be partisan. However unbiased he may be, this court must exclude Professor Harris’s evidence.”

Longtime huntsman Mick Wills of the Grafton Foxhounds (UK) was found not guilty.

Professor Harris’ friends too often appear to interfere with his testimony. Several years earlier, another prosecution brought privately by the League Against Cruel Sport (LACS) against six members of the Lamerton Hunt (UK) collapsed when the court learned that Professor Harris was a friend of Paul Tilsley, head of investigations for the LACS.

Click for the complete story by Patrick Sawer, senior news reporter for The Telegraph. We don’t know if the article was filed under Court Beat or the Gossip Column, but the link will take you there.

Posted July 11, 2019

Brenda Milne: A Celebration of Her Life

Brenda Milne―widow of the late Ian Milne, namesake of the MFHA’s prestigious Ian Milne Award to huntsmen―died on Wednesday, March 6, 2019. A celebration of her life will be held at the Warrenton Community Center on Saturday, April 13 from 2:00 pm to 5:00 pm. (The Center is located near Wal-Mart across from the State Police Station.)

Brenda was a loyal supporter of hounds and foxhunting, and she earned the love and friendship of foxhunting people all across the country.

In concert with Ian, a Yorkshireman, Brenda was the most hospitable hostess to young huntsmen and whipper-in emigres to North America. She helped Ian in befriending them and bonding them with their peers, thus connecting them to the fraternity and support group of professional hunt staff across their new environment. Brenda and Ian did this every year by throwing a huge Saturday night party at their home the evening before the Virginia Foxhound Show. It was the place to be for every huntsman and aspirant attending the large hound show.

Beer and soft drinks will be provided at Brenda’s memorial by the organizers. Please bring a potluck dish to share.

In lieu of flowers, donations in Brenda’s memory may be made to the MFHA’s Hunt Staff Benefit Foundation ([email protected] or call 540-955-5680).

Posted April 2, 2019

Home Tours, Rural Spring Festivals Can Promote Foxhunting vernon.cropFor several years Bob Ferrer, MFH, and Caroline Hunt members gave foxhunting demonstrations at Mount Vernon—another excellent venue for outreach that attracts visitors from around the country and the world.

One stop on Virginia’s Fredericksburg-area Historic Garden Week Tour this spring was at Chase’s End, the home and farm of Bob and Elizabeth Ferrer, Joint-MFHs of the Caroline Hunt. It’s quite a commitment to invite the world into your home and property, but the week-long tour has been a popular tradition in Virginia since 1927 when the Club decided to raise funds to save trees planted by Thomas Jefferson on the lawns of Monticello.

Today, funds raised during Garden Week are still used to restore and maintain Virginia’s historic gardens and to provide graduate level research fellowships. On Tuesday, April 30, 2019—the day scheduled for the tour at Chase’s End—the Ferrers hosted nearly 800 guests and staged a unique scene rarely experienced on Garden Club stops. Mounted Caroline Hunt members and staff rode out with foxhounds at 11:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. to demonstrate our sport to the uninitiated. What nicer way to introduce and promote foxhunting?

Learning to Say ‘Tally Ho’ in Chinese

You are forgiven for assuming that The County Down Club is in Northern Ireland. Actually, it’s in Shanghai, China, and is described as the first exclusive club for horsemanship and foxhunting there.

The County Down Club takes advantage of the country’s growing economy—now the second largest in the world. Established three years ago by Steven Sun whose interest in horses was sparked while studying in Britain, the club has about eighty members who pay an annual membership fee of $8,400.

The facility features an indoor swimming pool, a gym, a piano, and a dozen horses. Sun takes members foxhunting in Europe and has four Thoroughbreds racing in France.

Equestrian sport “has developed rapidly in China during the past five to ten years,” according to Sun, and enjoys a growing interest.

China’s Horsemanship magazine reports there were 1,802 equestrian clubs in China as of July 2018—double the number in 2016. The majority are located in northern and eastern China, Beijing and Shanghai primarily, according to the magazine. Such growth is likely to continue, the Chinese government having stated in 2014 that equestrian sports were to be “strongly supported.”

Another recently founded equestrian company is WonderHorse, which provides products and services. Founder Zoe Quin is based in Shanghai and was formerly the chief representative in China for French-based LeCheval.

The industry is “booming” for two main reasons,” said Quin.“Chinese parents consider horse riding an elite education to make their kids more outstanding in this highly competitive Chinese society.

“As for adults, they can extend their participation in equestrian sports beyond riding into broader aspects such as ownership, investment, travel, leisure and social activities."

Only a two-hour drive from Shanghai is the horse-themed ‘Pegasus Water Town,’ complete with hotels, art gallery, a mall with Venice-style gondolas, an equestrian club, and a Horse Culture Museum.

The ‘Town’ has more than 400 horses of many breeds, and visitors form long queues for horse-drawn carriage tours. There are lavishly costumed parades and horse performances in a menage that the official website calls an Austro-Hungarian Empire style, and over which hangs a familiar giant portrait of Napoleon on a rearing white horse. (Think “Napoleon Crossing the Alps” by Jacques-Louis David.)

Click for more details in Chiang Rai Times.

Posted January 2, 2019

Duke of Buccleuch Foxhunters Not Guilty In Scotland

A Master and whipper-in, both of the Duke of Buccleuch’s Foxhounds accused in the Jedburgh Sheriff Court on October 8th of breaching Scotland’s fox-hunting laws, were found not guilty by Sheriff Peter Paterson on December 8, 2018.

The five-day trial of Huntsman Timothy Allen, MFH, and whipper-in Shaun Anderson centered on video recordings covertly filmed by investigators from the League Against Cruel Sports.

Since no footage of the fox included any images of huntsman Allen, and images of Allen included no images of the fox, the court found there was no case to answer on Allen’s part. Foxhunters in Scotland may lawfully flush a fox to a gun, but are prohibited from chasing them. Allen was told he was free to leave the dock.

Whipper-in Anderson, in his turn, claimed he did all he could to control hounds when the fox emerged. Since Scotland’s Hunting Act prohibits the deliberate pursuit of a fox by hounds, and absent proof of a deliberate chase, Sheriff Paterson found insufficient evidence for a conviction and pronounced Anderson not guilty as well.

The Sheriff went on to criticize the language of the current hunting legislation regarding the search for and flushing of foxes. So what is in the future?

Both pro- and anti-hunting activists in Scotland and England decry the current hunting legislation and recommend changes. Obviously, the legislation changes recommended by each side are incompatible.

Jamie Stewart, director of the Scottish Countryside Alliance, said he was pleased that both Allen and Anderson had been found not guilty and noted the frustration involved for all when cases end up in court with little or no evidence against them. Robbie Marsland, director of the League Against Cruel Sports, declared that the legislation is not fit for the purpose and needs to be strengthened.

Since the Scottish hunting act was introduced sixteen years ago, there has been just one successful prosecution against mounted foxhunting.

Posted December 11, 2018