Fox Hunting Life with Horse and Hound

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Fire Erupts at Essex Fox Hounds Kennels; All Safely Evacuated

Forty-eight foxhounds in the kennels of the Essex Fox Hounds (NJ) were all safely evacuated by early responders from the local police departments as a fire that broke out in the feed room filled the building with smoke and flames soon seen shooting through the roof.

The fire was reported at 4:51 am on March 3, and was declared out at 5:40 am through the efforts of firefighters and volunteers from four area fire departments. The kennel building was semi-attached to a stable complex, but the fire was contained to just the kennel.

The fire was discovered by a hunt employee arriving at work. Peapack-Gladstone Police Officer Paul Morris, the first officer at the scene, heard the cries of frightened hounds as he pulled up in his patrol vehicle. He set about freeing hounds from the pens closest to the fire, and worked his way through the rest of the pens that were starting to fill with smoke. While freeing hounds, he was joined and assisted by two other officers from Bedminster and Far Hills.

Karen Murphy, MFH, praised the fast response. “We’re really lucky we had very good guys here so fast,” she said. “We’re very thankful.”

The cause of the fire has not yet been determined. It remains under investigation, but is not considered suspicious.

Click for P.C. Robinson’s complete article and James Brusso’s photo in the Bernardsville News.

Posted March 4, 2016

James Edward Covington, Jr., MFH (1935–2016)

Senior Master James E. Covington of the Deep Run Hunt (VA) died at home, surrounded by  family, on January 21, 2016. He was born February 23, 1935 in Richmond, Virginia, but spent most of the first four years of his life in Shanghai, China, where his father bought tobacco for Universal Leaf. After the Japanese invasion of China, the Covington family returned to Richmond.

Jim loved sailing, skiing, and golfing, but his main passion was foxhunting. He served as MFH from 1980 to 1985 and from 2001 to the time of his death. Among his many roles as Master, he worked hard to ensure that Deep Run would have open country for hunting.

Following a tip from Joint-MFH Polly Bance, he learned that Sunnyside Farm in Fluvanna County was up for sale. At the time the farm had not been lived in for several decades. The buildings were in disrepair, and the fields were overgrown. Nonetheless, he had a vision. He mowed and cleaned up fields, fenced pastures, and cleared miles of trails. With the help of his daughter, Janie, he restored barns and outbuildings. Sunnyside also became the center of his land conservation efforts in Fluvanna County. He put land he owned in easement and convinced and guided neighbors through the process. As a result, several thousand acres of land have been protected there. At Sunnyside he could be found on the back of a horse or behind the wheel of a tractor.

Jim was a graduate of the University of Virginia. While in law school there, he met his wife of fifty-five years, Jane Elizabeth Ellis. They married in 1961 and after his graduation, the couple moved to Richmond, where he joined the law firm of Williams, Mullen, Christian, Pollard. In 1969, he created The Covington Company, a residential and commercial real estate development company that is still in operation today. He is described as having introduced the concept of luxury-condominium living to the city of Richmond, and pioneering its development.

Click for James Covington’s complete obituary.

Posted March 3, 2016

British Hunts: Damned If They Do and Damned If They Don’t

British hunts are damned and accused by hunt protesters whether the evidence is valid or not.

A dead fox was found in a hedge in the vicinity where the Ledbury foxhounds were hunting. A member of the hunt staff, who had a chance to handle the carcass before it was hustled off by hunt protesters, claims it was cold and had a gunshot wound.

Hours later, photos of the dead fox were posted on various social media strongly accusing the hunt for unlawfully killing it. The local hunt saboteurs association reported on the Ledbury Reporter’s website that the fox’s body had been taken away for a “post mortem.”  

Hunt spokesman Donald Haden said the hunt conducts its activities within the law. "We are now into the lambing season,” said Haden, “and farmers quite understandably are not hesitant in shooting any foxes they see disturbing their sheep. We believe that in this particular case the fox had indeed been shot by a local farmer several hours or possibly days before and the dead carcass then thrown into the hedge."

Click for Gary Bills-Geddes’s story in the Ledbury Reporter.

Posted February 26, 2016

Bill Would Keep State-Raised Animal Rights Donations in Oklahoma

The Oklahoma House of Representatives will soon consider House Bill 2250, a measure crafted to forbid animal rights groups from spending monies raised in Oklahoma on any out-of-state expenses or for political purposes.

The bill is being championed by State Representative Brian Renegar (D), a veterinarian. He was prompted to his crusade when, in the aftermath of a 2013 tornado in Moore, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) took advantage of Oklahomans’ concerns for lost or injured pets. HSUS raised more than one million dollars in the state but used only ten percent of the funds within the state. Renegar points out that, according to, HSUS allocates only one percent of its $120 million budget to grants for local animal shelters across the nation.

Cynthia Armstrong, Oklahoma Director for the HSUS, denied that her group raised funds or advertised based on the Moore tornado. She claims the bill is unconstitutional and that HSUS spending on animal shelters is irrelevant because the organization’s purpose is “to take on the larger, institutional issues that are beyond the scope and reach of a local animal shelter.”

Click for Christy Lewis’s complete article in

Posted February 16, 2016

Horses Can Read Human Facial Expressions

A study has shown that horses can distinguish between happy and angry human facial expressions. The study was performed by psychologists at the University of Sussex (UK) on twenty-eight horses.

When viewing angry human faces, horses look more through their left eye. This phenomenon has also been seen in dogs and other animal species, the rationale being that the right side of the brain, where left-eye information is processed, is the hemisphere activated by threatening stimuli. Angry faces also produced increased heart rates and other stress-related behavior in the horses.

The horses were recruited from livery stables in the area and had received no previous training for the experiments. They were shown photographs of unknown human male faces in both angry and happy attitudes. The experimenters recorded the horses’ responses without knowing which photographs were being shown to the horses.

Amy Smith, a doctoral student in the Mammal Vocal Communication and Cognition Research Group at the University of Sussex who co-led the research, said, “We have known for a long time that horses are a socially sophisticated species but this is the first time we have seen that they can distinguish between positive and negative human facial expressions.

“The reaction to the angry facial expressions was particularly clear....there was a quicker increase in their heart rate, and the horses moved their heads to look at the angry faces with their left eye.”

The study was published today (February 10, 2016) in Biology Letters. Journal Reference: Amy Victoria Smith, Leanne Proops, Kate Grounds, Jennifer Wathan and Karen McComb. Functionally relevant responses to human facial expressions of emotion in the domestic horse (Equus caballus). Biology Letters, 2016 DOI: 10.1098/rsbl.2015.0907

Posted February 10, 2016