Fox Hunting Life with Horse and Hound

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NYC Horse Carriage Deal Goes Bust

In New York City, as Yogi Berra once said, “It ain’t over ‘til it’s over.” In the case of Mayor de Blasio’s animal rights-funded war against the horse-drawn carriages, that homegrown proverb was never truer.

With a deal in hand between the mayor’s office and the Teamsters union representing the carriage drivers—requiring only the City Council’s approval, which, in the opinion of even the wavering council members, was a given—the horse the mayor was riding balked at the wire. And the deal collapsed.

Council members who had never warmed to Blasio’s quest, nevertheless wanted the entire affair to be over and off their plates. Most were reluctantly prepared to sign on when the Teamsters union suddenly pulled their support. And that was the ballgame.

De Blasio’s humiliation is a defeat entirely of his own making. During his election campaign he seized on a narrow issue with little widespread traction, but one that brought him campaign funds from animal rights organizations along with their pledge to smear his chief opponent in the race, Christine Quinn. The plan worked: de Blasio promised to remove the horse carriages from the streets on his first day in office; he deposited the campaign contributions; Quinn was smeared; he was elected, but now more than two years later, he hasn’t delivered.

The deal he expected to finally deliver the fruits of his quest turned out to be a Pandora’s box. Once opened, it released a slew of newly-affected stakeholders who had never even been party to the original taxpayers who would have to ante up twenty-five million dollars for new stables in Central Park and pedicab drivers who would be barred from carrying passengers in the park.

“New York City politics is in danger of becoming just as much as a laughingstock as the presidential race,” Councilman Ritchie Torres, a Bronx Democrat, said.

“It’s a great day for the horse and carriages,” Ian McKeever, a carriage driver and spokesman for the industry, said. “I’m from Dublin, so I’m having a pint.”

For more details on the undoing of de Blasio’s plan for the carriage horses, see the February 4, 2016 New York Times article by J. David Goodman and Michael M. Grynbaum.

Posted February 5, 2016

NYC Horse Carriage Deal Is Struck

Representatives of the horse carriage industry in New York City have reached an agreement-in-concept with Mayor Bill de Blasio’s office on the future of horse drawn carriages there. To become effective, the deal must be approved by the City Council.

Under the compromise agreement, new stables will be built in Central Park for the horses, but the numbers will shrink from 220 horses active today to 95 horses by 2018. Operation of the carriages will be restricted to the park, according to some reports, and not the city streets.

On the plus side for the horsemen, pedicabs—competition for the carriages—would be prohibited from operating below 85th Street.

On the plus side for the Mayor and real estate developers, the building now housing the horse stables will become available for conversion to higher-revenue use.

Animal rights activists spent about one million dollars supporting de Blasio’s election bid and smearing his chief opponent, Christine Quinn. De Blasio had promised during his election campaign to remove all horse drawn carriages from the streets. The majority of New Yorkers, however, opposed the mayor in his attack on the industry.

The current deal may ease de Blasio’s conundrum, especially with the real estate developers riding quietly in the wake of the shrill cries and large campaign donations of the animal rights activists, but will it satisfy the latter’s ideological agenda? A question for the future.

Click for our earlier report on events leading up to discussions of the current deal.

Posted January 18, 2016

Author Martha Wolfe to Speak at VFC Annual Meeting

The Virginia Foxhound Club Annual Meeting, luncheon, and silent auction are scheduled for Sunday, February 14, 2016.

This year’s guest speaker will be Martha Wolfe, foxhunter and author of The Great Hound Match of 1905: Alexander Henry Higginson, Harry Worcester Smith, and the Rise of Virginia Hunt Country.

“There was to be a contest, a Great Hound Match, between two packs of foxhounds—one English and one American.”

In her book, Ms. Wolfe sets a fictionalized version, accurately based on events, of this historic competition against the history of foxhunting in Virginia. Viewed as a metaphor for America’s brash emergence as an international power, she has written a wonderful account of the battle between two wealthy men—Higginson and Smith—with egos to match their fortunes, one representing the New World and one representing the Old World, each adamant that his hounds were the best.

Meeting and luncheon will be held at the Fauquier Springs Country Club, 9236 Tournament Drive (off Springs Road), Warrenton, Virginia 20186. A cash bar and silent auction will start at noon, with luncheon at 1:00 pm, followed by a short meeting and Ms. Wolfe’s talk. Foxhunting Life Editor Norman Fine will introduce Ms. Wolfe.

Price is $35.00 per person. For reservations, mail check payable to Virginia Foxhound Club to Judy Allen, PO Box 11, Casanova, Virginia 20139. Reservations must be received no later than February 3, 2016.

Posted January 7, 2016

Case Against Lamerton Foxhounds Collapses in Court

Charges of illegal hunting brought against six members of the Lamerton Foxhounds in Devon (UK) by the League Against Cruel Sports (LACS) collapsed in court. The LACS dropped all charges when a previously undisclosed relationship between the League and one of its key witnesses was discovered.

Expert witness Stephen Harris, professor of environmental sciences at Bristol University, had failed to disclose connections with the League’s head of operations Paul Tillsley.

The case was a private prosecution brought by LACS and supported by evidence collected by that organization’s own “investigative officers.” LACS initiated the case privately because the police had determined earlier that there was insufficient evidence to prosecute.

Countryside Alliance chief executive Tim Bonner said: “This appalling case raises a series of fundamental questions about the abuse of the criminal justice system.”

Bonner accused the LACS of spending more than £100,000 of its contributors’ money on a “vindictive” prosecution that police had earlier judged not to reach the standard required of a proper prosecution.

LACS dropped all charges against defendants Joint-Master George Moyse, huntsman David Lewis, whipper-in Steve Craddock, and terrier men Wayne Bartlett, Gilmore Lewis, and Stephen Mitchell. The six had denied the charges from the start.

Click for the complete story in the Western Morning News.

Posted December 17, 2015

Lamerton Foxhounds Accused of Illegal Hunting in Britain

Six men affiliated with the Lamerton Foxhounds in Devon, near Okehampton, will stand trial, accused of illegally hunting a fox with hounds in contravention of the Hunting Act of 2004.

Defendants are Joint-Master George Moyse, huntsman David Lewis, whipper-in Steve Craddock, and terrier men Wayne Bartlett, Gilmore Lewis, and Stephen Mitchell. The six deny the charges.

This is another private prosecution brought to the courts by the League Against Cruel Sports (LACS). The evidence is based on film recordings made by LACS “investigative officers.”

Click for the full text of David Wells’s article in the Western Morning News.

Posted December 11, 2015