Fox Hunting Life with Horse and Hound

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Here you will find reviews of, selections from, and commentaries concerning books, many of which don't even appear on Amazon's radar. But what goldmines for the literate foxhunter!

The Old Coop on My Half Farm

My Half Farm, in Wentzville, Missouri, was a part of the main fixture of the Bridlespur Hunt Club (IL) from 1957 to 2006, before urbanization forced the club to relocate further west. My Half Farm is still home to hunt horses, the My Half Farm Beagles, and is a regular fixture for the Three Creek Bassets.

the old coop.cropThe Old Coop on My Half Farm

The Old Coop she stands bended, a dip across her bow
Where time has weathered wood, barely even two-six now.
Many years have passed and she beckons as if to say,
Do you remember when the hunters came my way?

The Old Coop sits heavy, where imposing she once stood.
Many a hunter snapped his knees, back when times were good.
Up and over they did go, landing downhill, facing north.
Over I've flown many times on beasts now left this Earth.

The Hillmen

cumbria2

Foxhunters and foxhounds in Cumbria have been hunting the fox from time immemorial in the magnificent Lake District on the English-Scottish border. It is a hard and dangerous place for hounds and humans alike—climbing borrans (stone piles), crags (cliffs), and crossing the scree beds (fallen stone from the crags). It’s country that would ruin a horse the first time out, and so the hunting is on foot. Dangerous and exhausting enough to fill the Cumbrians with pride and feelings of purity for their special brand of hunting.

We don’t turn out in scarlet,
We are more at home in tweeds;
We have no aristocratic hounds
Or blood three figure steeds:
Our home is in the up-lands
Where the Great Creator spills
His richest browns and purples
On our everlasting hills

Riding a Point-to-Point

irish steeplechase

We are all lined up at the starting-post in the nearest thing to a straight line that a troublesome bay horse will allow. His green-clad rider is fighting desperately to prevent the brute from savaging every other fairly-well-behaved entrant in the race. Soon "Away you go! And good luck to you!" is heard as the flag drops; and the Starter sends a further God-speed to our thundering hooves with the merry notes of a "Gone Away" on his hunting horn.

The first fence looks like a strip of dark green canvas stretched between two groups of people. With a railing of human beings lining its approach on left and right, horses seem distracted, and treat the fence rather carelessly. Luckily it is only a simple gorse-built affair; though the horse on the left refuses it.

Flinging it behind, horses race away with renewed fury. The chestnut in front is setting a terrific pace. His rider endeavours to get him settled down, but with little success, and he leads over the first bank like a Derby winner. People are no longer crowding the fences and horses have less to distract them at their work. An open ditch yawns malevolently, but the pace affords scant opportunity for an examination of its width. A bank looms in front, and if that chestnut leads us to it at this pace some of us will see the inside view of an ambulance. Every stride makes it grow bigger. The chestnut's at it he's over; bay beside him crashes—went too close and hit his knees two horses out of it already. "Hey! Don't ride me in on top of him! Pull over!"

Jack

jack

How pleasant the yellow butter
melting on white kernels, the meniscus
of red wine that coats the insides of our goblets

where we sit with sturdy friends as old as we are
after shucking the garden's last Silver Queen
and setting husks and stalks aside for the horses