Fox Hunting Life with Horse and Hound

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A Christmas Day Hunt on Old Cape Cod

Born in Shanghai, China in 1870, the author of this story crossed the Pacific Ocean with his sea-going father three times by the age of four. A goat was carried aboard ship to provide him with milk. Nason Hamlin was the first recording secretary of the Norfolk Hunt and a member of the field on Norfolk’s first day with hounds in 1896. He took to hunting and polo with exuberance, but his hand-written records are more often expressed in seaman’s jargon than in the language of foxhunting. Here’s Hamlin’s record (abridged) of a Christmas Day live hunt on Cape Cod (pp 27–29, "The Norfolk Hunt: One Hundred Years of Sport" by Norman Fine).

nason hamlin

Soapy Sponge, my new dappled-gray runaway, was yet to demonstrate his worth. On Christmas morn, 1899, just as the sun was peeping over the hill, Captain Samuel D. Parker, MFH was hunting the hounds at Eastham, away down on Cape Cod. It was a frosty, sharp morn and hounds were thrown in at the swamp lands fringing the ponds on the bay-side somewhere opposite Billingsgate Island. Shortly we heard a whimper from one hound, and almost immediately the pack took up the find and crashed away in the direction of the shore.

A Thanksgiving Day Hunt with the Brandywine

stuart roseStuart Rose: foxhunter, race rider, publisher, author

This tale of a Thanksgiving hunt in Pennsylvania around the middle of the twentieth century is from Stuart Rose’s excellent book, There’s a Fox in the Spinney: Memories of Fox-hunting, Racing and Publishing (Doubleday, 1967).

Rose’s father intended to send his son to Harvard, but upon completing secondary school the young man joined the U.S. Calvary instead, by lying about his age. He wanted to ride horses.

Squire Osbaldeston: A Sporting Prodigy

squire osbaldeston.Sir Frances Holyoake Goodricke.1830.John FERNELEYSquire Osbaldeston, MFH (foreground) on Ashton, with Sir Frances Holyoake-Goodricke on Crossbow, 1830, hunting the Pytchley in Melton Mobray, Leicestershire, England. Oil painting  by John Ferneley

London-born in 1786, George Osbaldeston was a natural athlete. He rowed for various schools that he attended, including Eton and Oxford, neither of which he matriculated. He assiduously avoided academic work, but set high standards for rowdy behavior and was expelled from most of these fine institutions.

He was an outstanding cricketeer, bowling and batting as an amateur in numerous important matches. In 1818, however, he was barred for life from membership in a club as the result of an intemperate outburst, effectively finishing his career in important cricket matches.

Hugo Meynell: The Father of Modern Foxhunting

hugo meynellHugo Meynell is known today as the father of modern mounted foxhunting. In the eighteenth century he transformed a sporting activity which attempted to control vermin with the slow and plodding Southern hound into an exhilarating chase at speed with fleeter Northern hounds and a scientific approach. In so doing, he set the stage for foxhunting’s Golden Age in the early nineteenth century.

The great Mr. Meynell, designated by his admiring friends “The King of Sportsmen,” or “The Hunting Jupiter,” earned those titles by the sport he had shown. Without owning an acre of land in Leicestershire (his extensive estates being situated in remoter countries), he carried on [his sport in that] best hunting country in the world.

He considered horses merely as vehicles to the hounds. There are different opinions as to Mr. Meynell’s proficiency as an elegant horseman; but it is never disputed that his progress over a country was, like the whole course of his life, straightforward.