- By Wendell Hawken
A day with the Tipperary Foxhounds is always special, but when that day happens to be the Opening Meet in Fethard, it rises to a completely different dimension. Recognised by all as the World Horse Capital, Fethard is a very special place, indeed. It hosts the Fethard Horse Museum in the Old Town Hall, a must for all horse enthusiasts. Not to forget as well that Coolmore Stud is just a stone’s throw from town.
And so it was we found ourselves on bank holiday Monday, in the small park between the Clashawley River and the historic town wall, first built in 1375 and among the best preserved of any in these islands. A portion of the town wall also serves as the back wall of the famed McCarthy’s hotel, that establishment providing hot port and other suitable hunting refreshments served up by the proprietor, Vincent (Jasper) Murphy. Mr. Murphy also doubles as the town undertaker. He is the fifth generation of his family since Richard McCarthy opened in 1852.
This image of a Tibetan vixen with three cubs to feed attacking a terrified Himalayan marmot earned photographer Yongqing Bao the prestigious title of Wildlife Photographer of the Year. The paralyzing wildlife moment was shot in the remote Qilian mountains of China.
Competition winners were announced during an awards ceremony at London's Museum of Natural History from 48,000 entries received from 100 countries.
Posted November 19, 2019
Russell Burrage Clark of Hamilton, Massachusetts died peacefully at home on November 2, 2019. Russell served as MFH of the venerable Myopia Hunt (est. 1882) on Boston’s North Shore from 1975 to 1994 and was an avid polo player as well. A complete sportsman, as were many of the Myopians, Russell competed in every hunter trial and horse show in the state. If he didn’t have a made horse ready to go for an event, he’d pull a green horse out of the field and show up to participate anyway. Sitting tall and slim on his Thoroughbreds, Russell presented the image of sporting elegance.
I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that some folks think of the staff horse that the huntsman or whipper-in is riding as just another horse. So before all the ‘egg spurts’ chime in, let me explain a little about the staff horse. Just imagine getting a jumping racehorse fit and ready for a race—weeks and months of preparation and hardening plus schooling over fences until the day arrives and the horse is off to the races.
Now think about getting a horse, if not racing fit, then pretty darn close to it, and not having one big race every couple of weeks but going out maybe twice a week and running for four to five hours. And in all weather, fair or foul. In the case of the huntsman, keeping up with hounds no matter the obstacles faced; in the case of the whipper-in, staying with or even getting on ahead of hounds in the ordinary course of the job. The staff horse puts in many more miles on a hunting day than does the field hunter. That is what’s required of it. No options.
Hunting in dry conditions is a challenge at best, but hunting in the dry and heat...like sweltering heat...is tantamount to impossible. There had been no rain for about six weeks, so dust was also a contributor to our less than optimal hunting day. But there are those of us who are not fair weather hunters, and it doesn't matter the weather because as the saying goes, “A bad day hunting beats a good day in the office.” So we found ourselves lightly trotting, mostly walking behind the Hillsboro Hounds (TN) because pressing hounds, horses, and humans on a day like that would have been foolhardy and irresponsible.
It was a case of ‘Girl Power’ at the Opening Meet of the South County Dublin Harriers. Hounds met at Gerry O’Malley’s Batterstown Inn in County Meath, Ireland, and didn’t hang around too long with a healthy field of about fifty followers and an active junior hunt section (that stages its own hunt ball)! Originally founded in 1867, it is the oldest surviving drag hunt in Ireland.
Three young staff ladies were immaculately turned out on three matching grey hunters. Huntsman Grace Kerr and her sister Eve*, who is now studying for an MBA and just back from the USA riding out from huntsman Willie Dunne’s yard in North Carolina and Redfield Farm in New Jersey. (Willie hunts the Middleton Place Hounds in North Carolina.) Grace’s and Eve’s sister Catherine would normally make up the trio but is a nurse in Australia. The final member of the team is whipper-in Eimear Byrne, another fine horsewoman.
This season Tommy Lee Jones begins his fiftieth year as huntsman for the Casanova Hunt (VA). The popular Virginia horseman has played a leading role at every level of hunting and showing and possesses the ability to educate others through his writing skills.
Tommy Lee was the first recipient of the MFHA’s Ian Milne Huntsman’s Award in 2012, and next year he will be inducted into the Huntsman’s Room at the Museum of Hounds and Hunting.