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 Key to the Quarter Pole

Book Review by Norman Fine

key to the quarter pole.crop.williamsThe Key to the Quarter Pole, Robin Traywick Williams, Dementi Milestone Publishing, VA, 2019, Soft Cover, 278 pages, $16.00A person who writes about horses and people has first to really know both subjects, then bring to the project a compelling way with words. Robin Traywick Williams delivers it all in The Key to the Quarter Pole. She’s a horsewoman and a foxhunter, and for six years was chairman of the Racing Commission for the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Plus, she’s been a feature writer for the Richmond Times Dispatch and a statewide finalist for UPI’s Journalist of the Year. She has several books to her credit, and this one is terrific—a page-turning novel filled with a variety of characters who inhabit that most exclusive inner sanctum of the horse world—the backstretch of the racetrack.

Louisa Ferncliff is one. She’s been beat up by a life with horses, but though her body is failing, she motors on with a will of steel. She knows very well that if she doesn’t take over the care and welfare of deserving racehorses, they will be raced and ruined. It happens all around the backstretch, but there are certain horses that she can’t let that happen to—especially the ones that give so much and expect so little. The principal object of her ministrations is Alice’s Restaurant, a horse with a fragile knee and a dubious future, who you’ll be rooting for every step of his tortuous way.

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

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

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.