Fox Hunting Life with Horse and Hound

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Scottish Police Say Foxhunting Law Is Unworkable

Foxhunting was banned in Scotland in 2002 by enactment of the Protection of Wild Mammals (Scotland) Act. Since that date, there have been no successful foxhunting prosecutions there.

According to Police Scotland, while “exceptions to the offence to ‘deliberately hunt a wild animal with a dog’ are multiple and provide opportunities for exploitation by those who continually and deliberately offend,” there exists a “lack of clarity,” and “the police are, on occasion, unable to establish the high threshold of evidence required to prove and ultimately, report cases.”

Police Scotland say that terms such as "stalking", "searching", and "flushing" were not defined by the act, an omission that creates confusion that can "deflect from the original intention or spirit of the legislation.... To make this legislation more effective and workable, offences need to be simplified and terms expanded.”

A review of the act by Lord Bonomy was ordered by Scottish ministers last year, and findings are expected in the coming weeks.

The legislation allows hunts to use dogs to flush out foxes and chase them towards the hunts, where the foxes are shot, but there have been allegations that the law has been broken because guns have not been visibly present. Police also said that proving the "intent" of an accused individual was very difficult because of the wording of the law.

The League Against Cruel Sports agrees with Police Scotland that the legislation is unworkable. According to the Scottish Director of LACS, "Our two-year investigation into the activities of Scottish fox hunts convinced us that they were driving a coach and horses through the present legislation.... The Scottish Parliament thought it had banned fox hunting in 2002. Now is the time for the law to be strengthened and for fox hunting in Scotland to be really banned, for good."

The Scottish Countryside Alliance, which promotes hunting, is yet to respond.

For further detail, see the complete BBC article.

Posted November 12, 2016

Virginia Reports Second Case of EEE

For horses kept in the Tidewater area of Virginia, veterinarians recommend vaccination against mosquito-borne disease every six months. Anyone keeping horses in mosquito-infested areas of North America should heed this recommendation.

The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) today announced the second case of Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) in a Virginia horse this year. Both cases were in Suffolk County, a mosquito-breeding area. Fortunately, the horse, a Thoroughbred, had been vaccinated and is recovering.

Symptoms include impaired vision, aimless wandering, head pressing, circling, inability to swallow, irregular staggering gait, paralysis, convulsions and death. Once a horse has been bitten by an infected mosquito, it may take three to ten days for signs of the disease to appear.

Without vaccination, the mortality rate for horses is high—from eight to ninety percent. Vaccines are generally effective in drastically reducing the incidence of both EEE and West Nile Virus (WNV) in horses.

To stimulate full immunity, horses must be vaccinated twice in the first year of vaccination, about thirty days apart. The vaccines are effective for six to twelve months, so horses should be re-vaccinated at least annually.

For more information, horse owners may contact VDACS’ Office of the State Veterinarian at 804.692.0601 or consult their local veterinarian.

Posted July 12, 2016

Fox Photo Tops Annual National Geographic Contest

foxes2Wherever you go, I will follow you! / Photo and caption by Hiroki Inoue

A pair of courting foxes—two understated splashes of color in an otherwise pale wintry Japanese landscape—was the subject of the winning Nature photograph in the 2016 National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year Contest.

Winning photographer Hiroki Inoue wrote, “It was when I drove back home feeling disappointed with the fact that I had finished the day in vain without any anticipated subject that I heard the joyful voice from the car window like ‘quack, quack!’ There they were: red foxes. Around the end of the winter, they meet the season of love; they care for and love each other enough to make us jealous.”

Posted July 3, 2016

Dark Horse: An Earnest and Sweet Documentary

Janet Vokes, a barmaid in Wales, had bred pigeons and whippets. She figured, why not breed a horse? She wheedled friends and neighbors—twenty-three in all—to join her in a collective by chipping in ten pounds a week for expenses.

They bought a mare that had never won a race and had a habit of throwing her riders. And they bought a cheap stallion. In the course of time, a foal arrived. The story of these self-described commoners progresses through ups and downs for ten years and proves that “scrappiness and horse sense are underrated qualities.”

Dark Horse, the documentary film by Louise Osmond won an audience award for world cinema at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival. Now appearing in theaters, the film is, according to Stephanie Merry writing for The Washington Post, an “utterly charming look at the unlikely success of Dream Alliance, a racehorse bred by a barmaid in a down-and-out Welsh mining village.”

The people interviewed bring warmth and humor to the film, in particular, Vokes’s husband Brian. He’s a coal deliveryman whose tattoos and missing front teeth are distinctly at odds with most of the owners against whom their horse competes.

The film is “earnest, sweet and told with sentimentality, featuring shots of horses frolicking in fields set against beautiful string music by Anne Nikitin. Surprisingly, the effect isn't melodramatic or overbearing, but disarming and endearing.”

"Dark Horse" (Sony Picture Classics): 3.5 stars
Rating: PG (contains horses in peril and strong language)
Running time: 1:24

Click to read Merry’s entire article.

Posted June 9, 2016

A Foxhunter Is Knighted

on hunting scrutonOn Hunting, Roger Scruton, Yellow Jersey Press, 1998, 161 pages, pocket size, available at Amazon and bookstores.To define Roger Scruton merely as a foxhunter is like defining Winston Churchill as a cigar smoker. True enough, but hardly a comprehensive description. Last month, Roger Scruton was created a Knight Bachelor by Queen Elizabeth II in the Birthday Honours list published on the Queen's ninetieth birthday.

Scruton is one of Britain’s leading philosophers, a spokesman for conservatism, and foxhunting is one of his passions. His excellent and highly readable book, On Hunting (1998), brings the author’s philosophical best to his love for the sport and all it entails from terror to ecstasy. As expressed by one reviewer, “He begins with hunting but he ends with a moving romance with nature itself. In this regard, hunting is but a window into his soul and the limits of human nature. I have read all of his books and this one ranks among the best.”