I want to tell you about a little-known yet colorful article of foxhunting attire from the past that deserves to be resurrected. When I first saw it under the huntsman's scarlet coat I asked myself, “What in the world is that man wearing about his neck?”
Here was an experienced foxhunter who had been a professional huntsman and whipper-in for world-class packs in England, Ireland, and America, yet he appeared to be oblivious to “proper” foxhunting attire. I’m referring to Hugh Robards, huntsman of the Middleburg Hunt. Robards is also an author, a student of the noble art, and possesses an extensive library. I thought he should have known better, but I didn’t want to embarrass him, so I didn’t ask.
It turns out that I was the ignorant one, but, I suspect, I’m not alone in this particular matter. Robards, I was to learn, was wearing a striking article of traditional foxhunting attire—a blue birdseye stock tie—under his scarlet coat. During his twenty-seven-year stint as huntsman for Lord Daresbury at the County Limerick (IRE), both he and Daresbury wore their blue birdseye stock ties through the autumn hunting season.
How many foxhunters of today have ever heard of such a thing, I wonder? The better question, though, is wouldn’t it be great fun to bring back this handsome stock tie into our own hunting fields?