Fox Hunting Life with Horse and Hound

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Dowling Returns: Will Carry the Horn at Cheshire

ivan dowling.small.jim grahamIvan Dowling photo by Jim GrahamThe Masters and Directors of Mr. Stewart’s Cheshire Foxhounds (PA) have announced the return of Ivan Dowling as professional huntsman for the well-respected pack.

Dowling returned to hunt the Cheshire hounds on a temporary basis in February, upon the departure of huntsman Barry Magner, then in his second season. A search committee was established to review other potential applicants but decided instead to propose reviving the hunt’s previous long term relationship with Dowling. The retired huntsman enthusiastically agreed, according to the recent announcement from the hunt.

Bear Creek to Hold Saint Patrick’s Day Puppy Show

chris ryan bank.crop.powerChris Ryan, MFH, Scarteen Hunt (IR) will judge the St. Patrick's day Puppy Show at the Bear Creek Hounds (GA). /   Catherine Power photo

On Saturday, March 17, 2018, the Bear Creek Hounds will host a Puppy Show at Bear Creek Farm in Moreland, Georgia. The Saint Patrick’s Day theme will be legitimized by the presence of Judge Chris Ryan, MFH of the Scarteen Hunt, Knocklong, Ireland. Also judging the puppies will be Marion Thorne, MFH and huntsman, Genesee Valley Hunt (NY).

The puppy show is open to all, and will commence at 1:30 pm following a brunch and hat contest at noon ($20.00 per person). A St. Patrick’s Day party follows at the Bear Creek Pavilion with awards, dinner, live music, and dancing ($60.00 per person). Spectators are welcome. A block of motel rooms convenient to Bear Creek Farm has been reserved.

The Bear Creek Puppy Show is part of the MFHA Hark Forward initiative this season. Participants will be asked to contribute to the renovation of the new MFHA National Headquarters in Middleburg, Virginia.

Moore County Hounds Work Hard, Play Hard

lincoln sadlerLincoln Sadler, 20 years whipping-in, now huntsman of the Moore County Hounds (NC)

Mary Kate Murphy, staff writer for the The Pilot in Pinehurst, North Carolina, interviewed Lincoln Sadler, huntsman of the Moore County Hounds (NC), and wrote the best newspaper article about foxhunting that I have seen in many years. And on so many levels.

Murphy and Sadler explain the primal importance of hounds to the sport of foxhunting; the training process and bond between huntsman and hound; how Sadler selects his pack for a day’s hunting depending on the country; how he comes to know his hunting country so well; Sadler's eschewing of double-speak about hunting in North America (i.e., the truth for a change by a hunt official in a newspaper!); how hound shows help mitigate a huntsman’s “kennel-blindness"; and the foxhound’s life from whelping to puppy training to being entered to retirement.

Murphy's is an article of foxhunting substance and the writer's art, the likes of which I have never seen published by a hometown newspaper. (I have to wonder if Murphy, besides being an excellent writer, is also an experienced foxhunter!)


Author's Lead:
Whether emerging stately from the mist for a Thanksgiving blessing or crashing headlong through the pines on a weekday hunt, an assembly of horses, riders and hounds makes for a spectacle that’s lost on its most important characters. The hounds of Moore County Hounds are too busy following their noses.

The huntsman knows his country:
He makes his choice on any given day based on whether the hunt will cover the Walthour-Moss Foundation’s 5,000 acres or the 64,000-acre Sandhills Game Lands. A Moore County native and lifelong foxhunter, Sadler knows both fixtures well. He took an early retirement from working on the Game Lands as a state wildlife biologist before taking over as huntsman last year.

How a candid Sadler selects his hounds for a day’s hunting:
“If I know I’m going somewhere I need a wide-ranging hound or hounds that draw differently, I can select different hounds and accomplish that,” he said. “I do give myself a little grief by taking more hounds than I should, because I have to put up with a little more fooling around from the young entry … on the days when you can’t seem to find a varmint anywhere, they can be a little bit wearisome. But what a gracious noise, what a beautiful music they make when everybody opens on the right thing and you’re off.”

The hunting bond between huntsman and hound:
“When we are riding home, I always look right at my left heel for Hoplight, look at my back right for Ensign and so on and so forth,” Sadler said. “They seem to have a place in the pack that they like.”

A huntsman’s self evaluation:
“I was lucky enough to inherit a good pack of hounds when I became huntsman. By my estimation, I really have nowhere to go but down with these hounds.”

A succinct evaluation of his Penn-Marydels:
“If the scenting conditions are where they can’t fly on the scent, then they may be described as slow … but on those days when the scenting conditions are not good, other packs wouldn’t be able to hunt a line at all.”

Telling the truth. No syrup-speak, no fanciful fibs:
Hunts in the United States and Canada are all about the thrill of the chase. Most days end with the fox going to ground when it tires of being pursued and living to be hunted another day.

I would very much like to offer more from this substantive and gracefully-expressed article, but I don’t want to commit plagiarism! Click on the link for the complete text and photos. I recommend it as an excellent read about the Moore County Hounds (I wish I had written it!), and also as a model newspaper article about foxhunting. Ted Fitzgerald’s photographs are first-rate as well.

Posted January 16, 2018

Thirteen States Sue Massachusetts; Claim Animal Rights Law Unconstitutional

Animal rights activists sponsored a ballot initiative in Massachusetts requiring farm animals to have space to lie down, stand up, fully extend their limbs, and turn around freely. Activists call “extreme confinement” and “lifelong immobilization” torture. Referred to as the “egg law,” the 2016 Massachusetts referendum won in a four-to-one landslide.

Thirteen states have sued Massachusetts, however, claiming the referendum is unconstitutional on grounds that it unlawfully “dictate[s] how other states choose to regulate business operations and manufacturing processes within their own borders," according to Attorney General Curtis Hill, of Indiana, one of the thirteen states.

At issue is a charge by the plaintiffs of "economic protectionism and extraterritorial regulation that violates the Commerce Clause" of the U.S. Constitution. The suit says residents of different states will be made to "submit to Massachusetts' laws" and forced to follow edicts not approved in those states.

According to the Constitution, only the federal government may regulate interstate commerce. The purpose of the Commerce Clause was to prevent states from engaging in economic wars against each other while the federal government remains helpless to intervene.

A challenge against a similar law in California has so far failed. This is a case worth watching says "for reasons of business practice, humane treatment of animals, and the interpretation of interstate commerce in a democratic republic.”

Posted December 15, 2017

Jed Forest Members Found Guilty in Scotland

Two members of the Jed Forest Foxhounds have been found guilty of breaching Scotland’s Protection of Wild Mammals Act. The conviction was the first under the act since its passage in 2002.

Johnny Riley and his father John Clive Richardson, MFH were fined £400 and £250 respectively for deliberately hunting a fox with dogs near Jedburgh last year. Riley and Richardson had both entered not guilty pleas, and plan to appeal the decision.

The prosecution relied on video evidence taken from nearly a half mile away. The images purport to show a terrier man digging out a fox, after which Richardson and Riley pursued it on horseback in contravention of Scotland’s Protection of Wild Mammals Act of 2002. Defense lawyer David McKie told the court the men had worked within the terms of the legislation by using hounds to flush out a fox from cover to waiting guns.

Scotland’s League Against Cruel Sports Director Robbie Marshall said the guilty verdict confirms that Scottish hunts are breaking the law, and the League looks forward to helping to strengthen the law. The Countryside Alliance was disappointed by the conviction, and claimed the men had been subjected to "trial by television."

Click to read the entire article published by the BBC.

Posted July 21, 2017