Fox Hunting Life with Horse and Hound

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The Unintended Consequences of Messing With Foxhunting

hedge jumping2

Britain―after having attacked, harried, and banned the sport of foxhunting―now finds itself missing the hedgerows built and maintained by foxhunters. Britain is missing her hedges not only for esthetic reasons but for practical reasons as well: carbon capture and the battle against global warming.

Robert Lane Fox, writing in the Financial Times, said, “The finest hedges in Britain are those planted and cared for by hunters: even as legal trail hunters, they want to be able to jump them with pleasure on horseback. For that reason, swaths of Leicestershire, say, or Herefordshire have been transformed and treasured. If hunters knock a hole in them they are promptly fenced at their own expense and cut and laid so as to grow back.

The Andean Fox and the Puma

puma1The puma (mountain lion, cougar), fourth largest species in the cat family, typically weighing a hundred or more pounds, coexists with the only other top predator in the Andes, the Andean fox at nineteen pounds.

Many hunts in North America during my hunting lifetime—just fifty years...a brief period in the scheme of thing—have migrated by necessity from foxhunting to virtually all coyote hunting.

Many of these hunts, whether by the size and nature of their countries or their long foxhunting traditions, would prefer to continue hunting the fox as opposed to the coyote. Conventional wisdom suggests that because the coyote and the fox compete for the same diet, the coyote will kill the foxes upon arrival in his new country or drive the fox away. This is certainly true in many areas and has been noted with dismay. But can the coyote and the fox somehow coexist?

How to Blow the Hunting Horn

kohler hunting hornSurely, one of the thrills of the foxhunting field is the sound of the huntsman’s horn. When huntsman and hounds are out of sight, the horn keeps the knowledgeable foxhunter informed as to the progress of the hunt.

When the huntsman doubles it in covert, that’s a good time to check your girth. When you hear the Gone Away, you watch your Field Master and anticipate that moment when the saddle tosses you standing in your stirrups and dancing to that seductive three-beat rhythm. The knowledgeable foxhunter can distinguish when the huntsman is blowing Gone to Ground to celebrate a successful conclusion, or simply collecting hounds after a loss. But have you ever tried to blow the thing yourself? Not easy!

How to Blow the Hunting Horn

kohler hunting hornSurely, one of the thrills of the foxhunting field is the sound of the huntsman’s horn. When huntsman and hounds are out of sight, the horn keeps the knowledgeable foxhunter informed as to the progress of the hunt.

When the huntsman doubles it in covert, that’s a good time to check your girth. When you hear the Gone Away, you watch your Field Master and anticipate that moment when the saddle tosses you standing in your stirrups and dancing to that seductive three-beat rhythm. The knowledgeable foxhunter can distinguish when the huntsman is blowing Gone to Ground to celebrate a successful conclusion, or simply collecting hounds after a loss. But have you ever tried to blow the thing yourself? Not easy!

MFHA Appoints Andrew Barclay

andrew barclay.horiz portrMFHA Director of Hunting Andrew Barclay

In a September 2, 2020 letter to members of the Masters of Foxhounds Association (MFHA), president Tony Leahy made the following announcement.

“After an extensive search process, it is my pleasure to announce that Andrew Barclay has been appointed as the Director of Hunting.

“Andrew’s experience and knowledge of foxhunting combined with his work with the MFHA to further its mission has proven that he meets the needs of our members. Over the past 14 years he successfully led the Professional Development Program as well as supporting a variety of MFHA initiatives.

Looking For Something to Read?

Now? This instant? Free of charge and legal? Something by a world-class author?

edith somerville on tarbrush.wikicommonsEdith Somerville, MFH, West Carbery Foxhounds riding Tarbrush. She was the first female MFH in Ireland, an author and artist as well, and, with her cousin Violet Martin, wrote some of the most hilarious and literate books on Irish foxhunting ever published. / Wikimedia Commons photo

Something perhaps by Somerville and Ross, G.J. Whyte Melville, and other brilliant writers of foxhunting stories as well as classic works of English literature. Many are in the public domain and may be downloaded and freely reproduced.

In 1971, Michael Hart, a student at the University of Illinois, conceived the most wonderful notion. He had access to a computer that was part of the government sponsored research network that ultimately became the Internet. He set himself a goal to make the ten thousand most consulted books available to the public digitally by the end of the twentieth century. He plucked a copy of the Declaration of Independence from his backpack, and it became the first Project Gutenburg e-text. Hart named the project after the German printer Johannes Gutenburg, who revolutionized the printing press.

Today, there are about forty thousand texts in the Gutenburg collection. For most works you have the option to download the full text as an epub to be read online (even with images); you can download Kindle files with or without images; or simply download plain text.

Uncharted Waters

nodh.klmWhat are you missing out on by cancelled events, and how are your horses helping to keep you occupied now that we are engaged in the newly-minted but necessary practise of social distancing? If you have such a story, share it with Foxhunting Life.

Over the next couple of months I was scheduled for book talks and signings at five libraries and at one of the oldest country clubs in the U.S. Of course, that schedule has gone by the boards along with your own schedules.

I have been publishing Foxhunting Life from my home office from the start, and can certainly continue to do so. Since publication of my new book, Blind Bombing: How Microwave Radar Brought the Allies to D-Day and Victory in Europe, just last December, I have also been giving talks and signing books at museums, libraries, bookstores, and cultural centers. I spoke to a large, knowledgeable, and engaged audience in Georgia at the National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force with a ninety-six year old B-17 WWII pilot sitting in the front row. That was a thrill!

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