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Norm Fine's Blog

The Blue Birdseye Stock Tie: A Smashing Style from the Past

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70Karen Ewbank is ready for cubhunting in her blue birdseye stock tie.

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?

How to Find Our Old Articles

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nodh.klmSince we posted our first article on Foxhunting Life five years ago, more than five hundred articles have been published. And they’re all still here...easily recovered.

When new articles are posted to the top of the Home Page, the older material is pushed down. The five most recent articles are always visible on the Home Page; the titles of the six articles published before those five articles are shown at the bottom of the Home Page; and the hundreds of articles that preceded those eleven are still available and recoverable.

There are four ways to find an old article: the Search function, the Full Article List, the Hunt Club Pages, or by Category.

Tommy Hitchcock, Jr: Sportsman, War Hero

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tommy hitchcock.polo2May 8, 2015 will mark the seventieth anniversary of V-E Day, Victory in Europe, the end of the Nazi menace. It’s a propitious time to remember a foxhunting sportsman named Tommy Hitchcock, Jr.

Most Foxhunting Life readers are familiar with his name. Born in Aiken, South Carolina, Hitchcock was an all-around sportsman, a foxhunter, and perhaps the greatest American polo player of all time. A ten-goal player by age twenty-two, Hitchcock led the U.S. team to their first victory in the 1921 International Polo Cup. He followed that feat by leading four teams to U.S. National Open Championships. In 1939, after the death of his mother, Louise Eustis Hitchcock, MFH of the Aiken Hounds, Tommy and his sister Helen founded what is know today as the Hitchcock Woods Foundation in Aiken—a magnificent gift to subsequent generations of horsemen and women from all across North America.

Perhaps less known, however, is the singular role that Hitchcock played in the winning of World War II. If not for Hitchcock, the date June 6, 1944 would most likely not be known to history as D-Day. The invasion of the European mainland would have necessarily been postponed. And if it hadn’t, thousands more Allied soldiers would have been slaughtered on the beaches by the German Air Force.

The Making of a Book...Starting From the Ending

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fitzrada and jane.paul brownJane Pohl and Fitzrada, painted by Paul BrownIn 2001 the Museum of Hounds and Hunting in Leesburg, Virginia, mounted an exhibit of the works of artist Paul Brown, famed for his elegant rendering of horsemen, horsewomen, and horses—racing, showing, and foxhunting. I was, at the time, a member of the Museum Advisory Board, and on the night of the exhibit I watched with curiosity and interest a slim, elderly, and proudly composed woman being carried in her wheelchair up the narrow back steps inside the Westmoreland Davis mansion to the second floor where the exhibit was hung.

I didn’t know whom she was, nor did I even meet her. Two months later she was dead, and I was equally unaware of even that occurrence. Her name, I was to learn some years later, was Jane Pohl, and, though she was terminally ill the night I saw her, she was determined to attend the exhibit, her last outing, because she had lent some of the Paul Brown art depicting her and her horse Fitzrada for the exhibit. I couldn’t know at the time that I was witnessing the ending of a story with which I was to become more than familiar.

Sporting Photographer Janet Hitchen

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janet hitchen3.leesDouglas Lees photoPopular and widely-respected photographer Janet Hitchen (neé Goldberg) died at her home near Millwood, Virginia on Tuesday evening, March 24, 2015. She was seventy-one.

Brilliant at her art, she has, over the last few decades, recorded a magnificent visual historical record of people and events in the world of field sport in and around Virginia. I fervently hope that her collection of negatives and digital image files will be preserved in her name, in the custody of a capable and responsible archivist, for the benefit of sporting researchers and writers of the future.

Janet was my go-to photographer from the early 1990s on, whenever I needed an image for Covertside. When I published the first full-color foxhunting calendar for the American Foxhound Club in 1998, she was the first photographer I called. Two of her photos were included in that inaugural calendar, and her photos have graced the pages and covers of Covertside and our Foxhunting Life Calendars ever since.

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