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!

Running Commentary on a Point-to-Point

irish ptp

Will yis stop pushing behind there or you'll land me into the ditch. Can you see the horses, Mary Ellen? They're down at the starting post; and I'll be down in this drain if yis don't quit shoving. Haven't you the whole country for a grand-stand, and why must you all crowd me off this one bit of a bank? There's lashings of room for all, if yis id have a bit of —. Oh, be the lord Harry! They're off! There's the hunting horn. Can you hear it, Mary Ellen? Great God, how the sound of it warms my old heart.

What a wonderful start! There's The Holy Terror lying third with our wee Jamesy riding him. Can you see his green jacket, Mary Ellen? They're coming to the first jump. God be with the day when I could show them boys how to ride a Point-to-Point: but these old rheumatics—these old rheumatics! Now they're at it. They're over. Wee Jamesy's there, Mary darling, and going like a Trojan. Now they're coming to the first bank. Jamesy's dropped back to fourth. That's what I like to see! Holding his horse together: just what his father would have done. Leave the pace-making to someone else.

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 Fox Meditates

rudyard kiplingIt’s been eye-opening to discover the many celebrated authors of classical literarature—like Rudyard Kipling—who have produced foxhunting poetry. In addition to those poets known for their sporting literature and published in these pages, Foxhunting Life readers have enjoyed the foxhunting poems of Sir Arthur Conant Doyle, William Shakespeare, Dylan Thomas, and William Butler Yeats.

What follows is a brief history of foxhunting in seven stanzas, written in the fox’s voice by Rudyard Kipling.

 

 When Samson set my brush afire
To spoil the Timnites barley,
I made my point for Leicestershire
And left Philistia early.
Through Gath and Rankesborough Gorse I fled,
And took the Coplow Road, sir!
And was a Gentleman in Red
When all the Quorn wore woad, sir!

When Rome lay massed on Hadrian's Wall,
And nothing much was doing,
Her bored Centurions heard my call
O' nights when I went wooing.
They raised a pack-they ran it well
(For I was there to run 'em)
From Aesica to Carter Fell,
And down North Tyne to Hunnum.

The Thaw

the thaw1.lionel edwards"By the road where the ditches are ready to run!"  /   Lionel Edwards illustrationHark to the avalanche snow from the roofs
   O’er eaves where the icicles melt in the sun!
Hark to the musical suck of the hoofs
   By the road where the ditches are ready to run!
On the slope of the hill is a patchwork of green
    And the fallows are spotted with spaces of brown,
While woodlands and copses and hedges between
    Have lost the white burden that weighted them down.