Foxhunting Life with Horse and Hound



Virginiia Point-to-Point Horse Confirmed EHM Victim


A horse that ran at the Piedmont Fox Hounds Point-to-Point Races on Saturday, March 22, 2014 was later confirmed positive for Equine Herpesvirus Myeloencephalopathy (EHM), a neurological disease of horses caused by Equine Herpesvirus-1 (EHV-1). The affected horse, from Fauquier County in Northern Virginia, was euthanized. There have been no new cases reported as of this date (below), nor have there been any new cases on the affected farm, which is under quarantine.

VDACS contacted the owners of three other horses that were in the same race with the infected horse. The horse owners contacted to this point report healthy horses with no indications of disease. VDACS also contacted other owners of horses that may have had off-the-farm contact with the affected horse.

Click for updates to this report.

What follows is information regarding EHM as released by the Virginia Horse Council:

The symptoms of EHM in horses may include a fever, nasal discharge, wobbly gait, hind-end weakness and dribbling of urine. The disease is often fatal. The virus is easily spread by airborne transmission, horse-to-horse contact and by contact with nasal secretions on equipment, tack, feed and other surfaces. Caretakers can spread the virus to other horses if their hands, clothing, shoes or vehicles are contaminated. EHV-1 poses no threat to human health.

VDACS recommends the following biosecurity measures for all horses that will come into contact with other horses at shows, trail rides, meets and other events:

Minimize direct contact between assembled horses whenever possible.
1.    Clean and disinfect equipment, feed, tack, stalls and other surfaces that are shared between horses.
2.    Isolate and closely monitor horses that are returning from a show, trail ride or competition for a minimum of 14 days.
3.    Clean and disinfect caretakers’ hands, clothing, shoes and vehicles that may be contaminated by other horses or equipment.
4.    Consult with your veterinarian about a vaccination schedule for diseases of concern such as Eastern Equine Encephalitis, West Nile Virus, Equine Rhinopneumonitis and rabies. Your equine veterinarian can also provide you with biosecurity recommendations that are specifically tailored to your horses and your facility.

Horse exhibitors and event goers can monitor their horses for early signs of infection by taking their temperature twice a day while at shows and reporting an elevated temperature to their veterinarian.

Posted April 15, 2014

Foxhunting Ban Could Be Eased After All


It would appear that British Prime Minister David Cameron’s admission in the House of Commons—that there will be no change to the Hunting Act due to lack of agreement among coalition ministers—is not his final word on the subject. (See earlier FHL news item.) The ban on fox hunting with a full pack of hounds could be relaxed after all, according to Christopher Hope in The Telegraph.

Cameron’s words in the House of Commons notwithstanding, the Prime Minister has asked government officials to gather factual evidence to support a change to the Hunting Act.

Under the ban as currently constituted, in cases where the landowner wants foxes killed, no more than two foxhounds may be used to flush a fox to a gun. Cameron along with Environment Secretary Owen Paterson had earlier proposed to amend that restriction, through a parliamentary device known as a statutory instrument, to allow up to forty hounds to flush a fox to a gun.

Their proposed amendment was in response to complaints by Welsh sheep farmers of fox depredation on their flocks. Critics argued, however, that it was a “back door” attempt to reintroduce foxhunting. Cameron and Paterson were unable to garner sufficient votes, even within their own party, to bring the matter to a vote.

Cameron now hopes to build a case based on hard evidence to persuade recalcitrant members of his coalition government that the ban should be eased in some parts of the country. The hill farmers argue that fox control under the ten-year-old ban has been insufficient, and changes are needed to ameliorate the growing threat to their livelihood.

Before achieving leadership of the Conservative Party, Prime Minister Cameron rode with the Heythrop Foxhounds. Click for more details in Christopher Hope’s article in The Telegraph.

Posted April 6, 2014

British PM Abandons Plan to Ease Hunting Ban


Speculation about any near-term relaxation of the hunting ban in England has been laid to rest. The BBC reports that British Prime Minister David Cameron informed the House of Commons that there will be no change to the Hunting Act as passed in 2004. Expressing regret, Cameron said that coalition ministers had failed to reach agreement.

In the days leading up to that announcement, Conservative MPs warned Cameron that his plan, in concert with Environment Secretary Owen Patterson, would fail. (See earlier FHL report, "British PM Has New Plan to Ease Hunting Ban.")

Under the ban, in cases where the landowner wants foxes killed, no more than two foxhounds may be used to flush a fox to a gun. Cameron and Paterson proposed to amend that restriction, through a parliamentary device known as a statutory instrument, to allow up to forty hounds to flush a fox to a gun.

The proposed amendment was a response to complaints by Welsh sheep farmers of fox depredation on their flocks. Critics argued, however, that it was a “back door” attempt to reintroduce foxhunting. Cameron and Paterson were unable to garner sufficient votes, even within their own party, to bring the matter to a vote.

Click for more details of the doomed proposal as reported in The Guardian.

The plight of the countryside was well-expressed in the Mid Devon Gazette: "If you put the politics, the prejudice and the class warfare aside and focus on the practicalities of fox control in an efficient and humane way, the case for changing the rules on hunting are difficult to challenge.

"In essence farmers, particularly in upland areas of Wales where fox predation of lambs is a serious issue, wanted to be allowed to use a full pack of hounds to flush a fox from cover. They argue using just two, as the Hunting Act allows, doesn't work in many cases.

"The proposal has been scuppered, not because the vast majority against the measure have studied the facts but because they had long since made up their minds on this issue.

"The sad conclusion to this modest attempt to help farmers and sensibly amend a flawed piece of legislation – which would also bring the whole of the UK in line [Scotland allows what England is trying to achieve. -Ed.] – is that it is impossible to discard the baggage and talk sensibly about animal welfare, cruelty and efficient countryside management. That is a great shame and does a disservice to wildlife and to farmers."

Posted March 28, 2014
Updated March 29, 2014

William Almy III Dead at Eighty-five


William Almy III died on February 28, 2014 at age eighty-five. A native of Massachusetts, he loved riding and foxhunting in his younger days with the old Quansett Hunt of which hi father, William Almy, Jr. was Master. (His father also served, from 1960 to 1970, as the tenth president of the Masters of Foxhounds Association.)

Mr. Almy was raised on a horse farm on the southern shore of Massachusetts, a farm owned and lived upon by the family since before the Revolutionary War. He graduated Harvard College with the Class of 1950, then played semi-professional hockey with the Rhode Island Reds until his father “strongly suggested” he choose another occupation. He made his career in newspaper advertising.

He participated in many varsity sports during his school days, played tennis and squash into his eighties, and remained a fan of football, baseball, and hockey for the rest of his life. Click for more details in his obituary published in South Coast Today.

Posted March 28, 2014

NYC Mayor's Horse Carriage Ban Faces Opposition


The city council votes are insufficient thus far to ban horse-drawn carriages in Central Park. New York Mayor Bill de Blasio had vowed two days before his election to end that romantic tradition in his first week in office. Twelve weeks later, such a bill has yet to be introduced.

Animal rights activists claim that forcing horses to work in the traffic-clogged streets is cruel. However, a recent poll found that voters opposed the ban by 64% to 24%.

Council members who have expressed their opinions are said to favor the ban by fifteen to eight, with nineteen members yet undecided and nine more members unresponsive. Some of those on the fence express concern over the loss of jobs that the drivers will suffer.

A proposal to transition the carriage drivers into driving electric-powered vintage cars as a replacement for the horse carriages is being considered. [A proposal that most horse lovers, we suspect, will find damn silly.]

Click for more details in the Newsday article by Emily Ngo.

Posted March 28, 2014

British PM Has New Plan to Ease Hunting Ban


British Prime Minister David Cameron is seeking Members of Parliament who will support a backdoor attempt at easing the foxhunting ban, according to a report in the Sunday Times.

Cameron along with environment secretary Owen Paterson want to use a device known as a “statutory instrument” in Parliament to amend the Hunting Act—which currently allows only two hounds to flush a fox to a gun—to allow packs of up to forty hounds to flush a fox to a gun. They have scheduled parliamentary time on March 26 for debate and are seeking support from all parties, this in response to pleas from Welsh farmers experiencing increased depredation by foxes.

The Times reports that statutory instruments are normally used to make minor technical changes to laws, and its use for such a controversial topic would be “highly unusual.”

The Times report fails to note that the hunting ban was instituted in the first place through the use of another obscure parliamentary device called the Parliamentary Act. This device was enacted in 1949 to curb serious abuses by the House of Lords, and no Englishman that I talked to at the time could remember any prior implementation of the Parliamentary Act. It may be fitting to see that what enters by the “back door” can exit by the “back door”!

Click for more details in the Sunday Times article by Jonathan Leake and Marie Woolf.

Posted March 16, 2014

New USSA Office in California Is a Plus for All Hunters


The Columbus, Ohio-based U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance (USSA), a national organization dedicated to protecting the rights of hunters, anglers, and trappers, has opened an office in Sacramento, California, the state capital.

“Expanding our operations is a natural we plan to move more effectively to protect the interests of sportsmen across the country,” said Nick Pinizzotto, USSA president and CEO.

The Sacremento office will be led by Michael Flores who has a long and productive history of serving California on outdoor-related issues. Flores is a past president of the California Fish and Game Commission, former chairman of the California Wildlife Conservation Board, and has held numerous other prestigious roles, including Secretary for Foreign Affairs for California.

Animal rights organizations have long focused on liberal-leaning California as a juicy target in which to pioneer and polish their anti-hunting initiatives. A resident first line of defense in such a state is a plus for pro-hunting interests all across North America.

Posted March 14, 2014

Horse Country to Launch John Anderson's New Novel


prophet of paradiseThe Prophet of Paradise, J. Harris Anderson, 2014, 487 pages, Soft Cover, $22.95J. Harris Anderson’s new novel, The Prophet of Paradise, will by launched Thursday, March 20, 2014, from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. at Horse Country Saddlery in Warrenton, Virginia.

Anderson’s byline, which appears regularly in the pages of In & Around Horse Country, may be familiar to foxhunters across North America, but the tenor of his first novel, written for a mature audience, may be less familiar! In Anderson’s new book, tradition-bound foxhunting society becomes threatened by a radical concept: The Church of Foxhunting.

The promo blurbs tell us that “a current of titillation flows” among the true believers, from teenagers to grandparents, and the “two meanings of venery—pursuits both sporting and erotic—happily blend into a single drive,” creating conflict and tension in the hunting community.

Anderson will discuss his work and sign copies of his book. Refreshments will be served. RSVPs will be appreciated (540-347-3141 or 800-882-4868).

Posted March 14, 2014 Save

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