Fox Hunting Life with Horse and Hound

Subscribe RISK FREE for complete access to website PLUS
twice-monthly e-magazine.

SUBSCRIBE NOW

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9
  • 10
  • 11
  • 12
  • 13
  • 14
  • 15
  • 16
  • 17
  • 18
  • 19
  • 20
  • 21
  • 22
  • 23
  • 24
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 Purebred and The Mutt

With permission, here is the first chapter of The Great Hound Match of 1905 by Martha Wolfe (Lyons Press). The Library of Virginia has selected Martha’s work as a potential Best Book of 2016 in the Non-Fiction category. Readers may cast their votes by clicking here.

higginson and cotesworth with houndsA. Henry Higginson, MFH, Middlesex Hunt, in derby and spats with huntsman Robert Cotesworth and his imported English foxhounds of the period. / Courtesy, National Sporting Library and Museum

Storytellers claim that there is really only one story in the world: “A Stranger Comes to Town.” In this case, two strangers came to two towns in Virginia bringing with them their separate entourages—private train loads of friends and their horses, trunks of tack, boots, formal and informal clothing, food and wine, servants and of course their hound dogs. Neither Middleburg nor Upperville, Virginia, had seen the likes since J. E. B. Stuart established his headquarters at the Beverage House (now the Red Fox Inn) in Middleburg during the Gettysburg Campaign. Alexander Henry Higginson of South Lincoln and Harry Worcester Smith of Grafton, Massachusetts had determined that the Loudoun Valley in Virginia’s pastoral Piedmont was the best place to prove the relative worth of their chosen foxhounds.

Siegfried Sassoon’s Haunted Sequel

sassoon memoirs foxhunting manMemoirs of a Foxhunting Man, Siegfried Sassoon, 1928, Penguin Classics, paper, available at Amazon and bookstoresEarly July exactly one hundred years ago, British, French, and German troops engaged in battle near the River Somme that left a million men dead or wounded on the fields in just four months of butchery. Known to history as the Battle of the Somme, it was arguably the bloodiest in all of human history. All for a gain of just six miles into enemy-occupied territory.

Author and poet Siegfried Sassoon was at the Somme. His lovingly-written classic, Memoirs of a Foxhunting Man, ends with his wartime service, his loss of dear friends, and the beginnings of his ruminations on the madness of war.

For just the foxhunting content, the book is a classic to be recommended to any literate foxhunter. But Sassoon wrote a sequel, Memoirs of an Infantry Officer, which is the most moving anti-war book this reporter has ever read.

Memoirs of a Foxhunting Man

Extracted and condensed from Memoirs of a Foxhunting Man, Part Seven, Chapter II.

siegfried sassoonBritish author and war poet, Siegfried Sassoon

October arrived; the drought broke with forty-eight hours’ quiet rain; and Dixon had a field day with the new clipping machine, of which it is enough to say that the stable-boy turned a handle and Dixon did the rest. He had decided to clip the horses’ legs this season; the Ringwell was a bad country for thorns, and these were, naturally less likely to be overlooked on clipped legs, which also were more sightly and dried quicker than hairy ones.

Resplendent in my new red coat, and almost too much admired by Aunt Evelyn and Miriam, I went off to the opening meet by the early train from Dumbridge to Downfield. Half an hour’s ride took me to the kennels, where I joined an impressive concourse, mounted, in vehicles, and on foot. The sun shone after a white frost, and everyone was anxious to have a look at the new Master. My new coat was only a single spot of color among many, but I felt a tremendous swell all the same. Familiar faces greeted me, and when we trotted away to draw Pacey’s Plantation, old Mr. Dearborn bumped along beside me in his faded red coat and blue and white spotted birds-eye cravat. “This horse ought to have one of you young chaps on his back!” he exclaimed. “Jumps too big for an old buffer like me; never known him to put a foot wrong, clever as a cat—(hold up, will you!)...his clever hunter having tripped badly on some stones.

Staying at the Ringwell Kennels

siegfried sassoon2Sassoon was excited to be hunting in the Ringwell country this season. On his very first hunt as a youngster with the local pack, he had spied, admired, and envied another young boy, Denis Milden, who had appeared to be so experienced. That boy was now the new Master and huntsman of the Ringwell. It was an overnight trip to that country for Sassoon, and he had been invited to stay at the kennels with his old acquaintance, the Master, as often as he wished. What follows is extracted and condensed from Memoirs of a Foxhunting Man, Part Seven, Chapter III. Click for our earlier sampling from Part Seven, Chapter II.

Staying at the Kennels was the most significant occasion my little world could offer me, and in order that he might share my sublunary advancement I took Cockbird with me. In reply to my reserved little note I received a cheery letter from Denis: he would be delighted to see me and gave detailed instructions about my bag being called for and taken out to the Kennels from Downfield.