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 Ride of My Life: Memoirs of a Sporting Editor

the ride of my life.claytonThe Ride of My Life: Memoirs of a Sporting Editor by Michael Clayton, Merlin Unwin Books, $30Before his retirement, author Michael Clayton probably had the best job in the world—editor of Horse & Hound magazine in Great Britain. He led the magazine for more than two decades—from hunting’s heyday through the bad times, when laws were passed to prevent hounds from chasing a fox. Now Clayton has given fellow foxhunters a chance to share his adventures in his memoir, The Ride of My Life: Memoirs of a Sporting Editor. And we are lucky to get to go along for the ride.

Clayton writes that he once read that a happy adult is one who feels he made his childhood dreams come true. An only child, his youth was overshadowed by World War II, and he remembers nights dashing to the family air-raid shelter at the foot of the garden. “If this sounds grim,” he writes, “it was not. We were generally safer in Bournemouth than those living in London.…”

But horses beckoned. When he was seven, Clayton, an only child, announced that he wanted to learn to ride, and to his surprise, his parents agreed instead of saying wait until after the war. The Longham Riding Stables, a bit run-down and shabby, were just a thirty-minute bike ride from his home and were “my first gate-way to horsemanship and the hunting field.”

The Horse of Your Heart

William Henry Ogilvie was born in Scotland, but spent the decade of his twenties in Australia, a country that captivated him. He had a deep love of horses and traveled down under breaking horses and droving at the cattle stations. He explored the outback widely, camping as he went, and much of his poetry was written in and about Australia. Upon returning to England Ogilvie settled into a countryman’s life of riding, foxhunting, and writing.

william henry ogilvie.john kinmont moir.1937William Henry Ogilvie / John Kinmont Moir portrait, 1937When you've ridden a four-year-old half of the day
And, foam to the fetlock, they lead him away,
With a sigh of contentment you watch him depart
While you tighten the girths on the horse of your heart.

There is something between you that both understand
As it thrills an old message from bit-bar to hand.
As he changes his feet in that plunge of desire
To the thud of his hoofs all your courage takes fire.

The Epping Hunt

Here are selections from The Epping Hunt, Thomas Hood’s humorous 1829 epic poem about shopkeeper John Huggins, who goes hunting one day astride a horse that he shares with his neighbor, Fig.

epping fox hunt by cruikshankGeorge Cruikshank was the illustrator for Thomas Hood's epic poem.

A stolid man of business was John Huggins...
Six days a week beheld him stand,
His business next his heart,
At counter with his apron tied
About his counter-part.

With a sporting core...
For all the live-long day before,
And all the night in bed,
Like Beckford, he had nourish’d “Thoughts
On Hunting” in his head.

Rockbridge Hunt’s Reading Group: A Win for Foxhunting

fine brown kalergis disuss fox hunters reading groupRockbridge Hunt Joint-Master Hugh Brown (center), described his hunt's successful reading group to writers Mary Kalergis and Norman Fine.

“Tell me a story,” is one of my favorite sentences in the English language. So I responded enthusiastically when Hugh Brown, MFH told me about the reading group organized by the Rockbridge Hunt (VA). The Masters hit a responsive chord. Even members of nearby hunts have been attracted to join.

By keeping the literature of foxhunting alive, the Rockbridge Masters have found another way to further engage their members into this sport we all love. What better way to absorb our history and traditions while reveling in the humor and entertainment of a good story?

“The reading group is the brainchild of longtime Master Cindy Morton,” says Brown who raided his extensive library to help kick-start the operation. “We specifically didn’t want to limit it to Rockbridge Hunt members, and we definitely wanted to focus on foxhunting. We've had great discussions on related subjects like big game hunting in Africa and bear hunting, but we always return to the fox (and coyote).