Fox Hunting Life with Horse and Hound

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Hobbyhorse Showjumping Craze Sweeps Scandinavia

I can’t believe I’m reporting on this, but I assure you it’s not fake news.

Riders, mostly girls between five and eighteen, but some boys as well, are riding, practicing, and competing in dressage and showjumping events on hobby horses. Riders can buy their mounts—stuffed heads on a stick—for about two hundred dollars; other riders breed...errr...that is, make their own hobbyhorses.

The sport is said to have attracted more than 10,000 athletes in Finland alone (about equal to the entire foxhunting population in the U.S.), where, after vying in regional events throughout the year, the nation’s finest riders compete in the annual Hobbyhorse Championships near Helsinki. Points are awarded for style and posture, as in traditional equestrian events.

Enthusiasts of the sport are also active in Sweden, France, and Germany. Riders train through the woods and parks, finding a sense of belonging and empowerment in the hobbyhorse community. Click for video.

Posted May 12, 2017

Breakthrough in Preserving Live Horse Sperm for AI

Researchers in Australia have developed a new scientific method they claim could boost the success of horse breeding via artificial insemination (AI) around the world. With their discovery, semen can be stored, shipped, and used at ambient temperature. Chilling or freezing, which can damage cells, would not be necessary.

Scientists at the University of Newcastle developed a nutrient-rich liquid which, when added to horse semen collected after ejaculation, keeps the sperm alive for longer periods at ambient temperature. With the new liquid, the sperm could remain viable for up to two weeks, as opposed to only about three days when chilled.

The research came about after a grant collaboration between stakeholders in the national and international equine industry, and included a number of universities. The concern is that horse breeding has fallen behind other animal industries.

The University of Newcastle is located in New South Wales Hunter Valley, the second largest Thoroughbred breeding area in the world. While the Thoroughbred stud book does not allow the use of artificial insemination, other horse breeders are expected to benefit from the breakthrough.

Cryo-preservation, according to a researcher, can damage cells and reduced their life span once thawed, thereby reducing fertility. Click for Robert Virtue's complete article in ABC Newcastle.

Posted April 22, 2017

Flying Fox a Threatened Species

flying fox

The flying fox, so called for its large eyes and pointed ears and snout, is not really a fox at all. The other common name for the mammal is fruit bat. It’s the largest of all bats in the world with a wingspan of nearly five feet. Its senses of smell and eyesight are well-developed, and it doesn’t rely on echo-location to catch flying insects for its diet. Its subsists on blossoms, nectar, pollen, and fruit and serves as an important pollination vector in the reproduction of many tropical fruits.

The flying fox is threatened with extinction in much of its habitat, especially on islands in the South Pacific where it is essentially trapped because of its limited flying range. Some islands, like Mauritius, have introduced mass culls at the insistence of farmers whose harvests are reduced by the bats’ consumption. Yet the bats provide the farmers with a critical pollinating service.

In the Marianas, flying fox meat is considered a delicacy, for which a large commercial trade developed. According to Science Magazine, “the dire situation of island flying foxes worldwide calls for effective, science-based conservation strategies to prevent further loss of biodiversity and function.”

Posted April 16, 2017

Headwaters Hounds’ Neighbors Say Nix to Foxhounds

Neighbors of the Headwaters Hounds (CO) have filed both civil and criminal complaints against Dr. Alison Brown, MFH of the Headwaters Hounds, objecting to the kennel noise. Brown claims that her foxhound breeding operation is protected by the local Right to Farm and Ranch ordinances.

Brown kennels about thirty foxhounds, one third of which are in retirement and are “living out their days in sanctuary.” Headwaters Hounds was established in their present location in 2014; the complainants moved nearby in 2016. The area is zoned for rural use.

A member of the Right to Farm and Ranch board, who helped write the ordinance said, “People move to rural areas and then expect that the manure pile next door wouldn’t smell, the farm equipment should have mufflers, that farm dogs don’t bark.... Rural zones are expected to have rural uses.”

Click for Jan Wondra’s complete article in the March 28th issue of the Mountain Mail.

Posted March 29,2017

Jedforest Staff Members on Trial for Breach of Hunting Act

A video taken from nearly a half mile away purports to show a man digging out a fox, after which staff members of the Jedforest Foxhounds pursued it on horseback in contravention of Scotland’s Protection of Wild Mammals Act of 2002. Mounted hunt staff members John Clive Richardson and Johnny Riley stand trial accused of pursuing the fox with hounds after it had gone to ground, been located by terriers, dug out by the terrier man, and chased once again by hounds.

The accused men deny deliberately hunting a fox with hounds. The law requires that, once dug out, the fox must be immediately dispatched or killed by waiting guns. The video was filmed by an investigator from the League Against Cruel Sports and was shown in evidence at Jedburgh sheriff court.

The LACS investigator, Terence Hill, said, “There are far too many loopholes in the legislation just now. Flushing to guns is not happening. Traditional fox hunting is still going on.” The trial continues.

Click for Robert Fairburn’s complete article in The Times.

Posted March 19, 2017