Fox Hunting Life with Horse and Hound

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Amazing, Amusing Day

BRH-20081224-09---PortraitMatthew Mackay-Smith, DVMJust because we’re between seasons doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy a hunting tale now and again. Matthew Mackay-Smith, DVM is an internationally-known veterinarian, co-founder and former medical editor of Equus magazine, and a member of Foxhunting Life’s Panel of Experts. The following account transpired twenty-five years ago. Your editor was there and can vouch for its veracity!  -Ed

On Thanksgiving Saturday, the day of the 1986 Blue Ridge Hunt Ball, hounds started the festivities with some most unusual and unforgettable sport. An eager field of fifty followers, including lots of visitors and a dozen children, met hounds and hacked east into the Annefield meadow along Chapel Run. With adjustments to tack scarcely complete, hounds were sent to whipper-in Bobby Pillion’s immediate view halloa upstream.

The Lunesdale and Oxenholme Staghounds

lo_staghounds1Not your ordinary fell foot pack!Don’t bother looking this one up in Baily’s! (Not to be confused with the Lunesdale Foxhounds.) The Lunesdale and Oxenholme Staghounds concluded its sporting operations upon the outbreak of World War II. The hunt was an anachronism in the Lakeland fells of northern England, and its history, as related by Ron Black in a just published fifty-eight page booklet, taught me something of carted stag hunting that I found sufficiently fascinating to relate here.

The Foxes of Cumbria

BorrowdaleBorrowdaleIn the Lakeland District on the English/Scottish border, about four or five miles from Ambleside on the Hawkshead road is a T-junction. Turn right and the road ascends the shoulder of a small water-cut valley, finally reaching it’s destination at the Drunken Duck public house from whence a choice of routes beyond this story can be found.

Old Huntland, Joe Thomas Photos Discovered

kennels5A youthful Joseph B. Thomas at Huntland / Courtesy of Karen L. MyersJoseph B. Thomas, MFH came to Middleburg, Virginia via Boston and New York in the early part of the twentieth century and built Huntland—house, stables, and kennels.  Thomas was a founding member of the American Foxhound Club, Master of the Piedmont Fox Hounds, and author of Hounds and Hunting Through the Ages, the first comprehensive book on hunting with hounds ever written by an American.

Thomas became the largest breeder of foxhounds for mounted packs in North America and helped to define the American foxhound breed. He has been a subject of great interest to all serious scholars of North American foxhunting, and much has been written about him. However, available images of Thomas (and his famous huntsman Charlie Carver) to grace all that published text have been sparse.

Now, just in time for the present owner and restorer of Huntland, Dr. Betsee Parker, to celebrate the hundredth anniversary of her famous home, we have a treasure trove of recently discovered old photographs of Thomas, Carver, hounds, and kennels.