Fox Hunting Life with Horse and Hound

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The Border Terrier is a familiar breed to foxhunters, especially in the sheep farming districts of England and Scotland. They were bred on the English-Scottish Border to run with the foxhound packs. When the fox went to ground the Border Terrier would go in and bark so the men knew where to dig. But did you know that a Border Terrier named Owney was the first nationwide mascot of the United States Postal Service? Owney reigned for nine years, from 1887 to mid-1897, traveling over 140,000 miles throughout the forty-eight states and around the world.

Owney belonged to a clerk at the Albany post office who often brought the dog to work. He seemed to love the smell of mail bags and slept on them whenever he was there. The clerk eventually quit the post office, but knowing that the dog seemed happiest with the mail bags, he left him beind. The postal employees in Albany soon discovered that Owney didn’t want to leave the bags when they were loaded onto the trains, so he was allowed to travel with them.

Statistics Suggest England’s Hunting Act “Lies In Tatters”

fitzwilliam hunt milton hall 1Nov17 021Falconers and huntsmen at British hunts attempt to hew to an unsatisfactory act of Parliament. /  Nico Morgan photo

Statistics show that the Hunting Act of 2004 “lies in tatters” and should be re-examined by Government for being “too complex,” according to hunting advocates.

Less than half the cases prosecuted under the Hunting Act resulted in convictions in 2017, while the overall national conviction rate for all other matters in both magistrate’s court and Crown Court averaged between eighty and eighty-five percent. For prosecutions in 2018, the average conviction rate under the Hunting Act so far stands at forty percent. These conviction rates are the lowest since the Act came into force in 2005, falling from a high of just fifty-four percent in 2016.

Wearing Spurs Safely

lower leg front viewFor safety, spur strap buckle is centered on the ankle with the free end of strap pointed to the outside.When you are wearing spurs, where does the buckle of your spur strap fall? As the result of the concerned suggestion of James Wofford, Olympic veteran and articulate three-day coach, Foxhunting Life has changed its recommendation for the proper way to wear spurs. (Hunting Attire, Tack, and Appointments under the Resources drop-down menu on our website).

Wofford writes: “I (and others, George Morris, for one) want the buckle exactly centered on the rider’s ankle, thus the least likely to catch the branch of the stirrup in the event of a fall. For your consideration, I enclose photos of what I refer to as THE Lower Leg Position, meaning, in my opinion, correct in absolutely every aspect.”

Foxhunts Exploit New Technology

tax map captureA typical county tax map overlayed on Google Maps. Street names and route numbers are shown and parcel numbers may also be displayed for owner identification.

Late in the Twentieth Century, advances in radio communications infiltrated the traditional sport of foxhunting, whether welcomed by all foxhunters or not. Today, hand-held radios and cell phones are as much a part of most hunt staffs’ kit as the horn and the whip.

More recently, online Tax maps and Google Maps, two Twenty-First Century high tech developments, are being used to assist Masters and staff in better organizing their hunting country. Epp Wilson, MFH and huntsman of the Belle Meade Hunt (GA) and his members take advantage of the technology to assist in landowner relations and improving the sport. First, let’s consider what the technology offers, then how Wilson uses it.

What’s In a Word That Begins With Rat?

nmfguitar.ratcatcherAs the informal autumn foxhunting season approaches, it’s time to examine our horses’ tack for neatness and safety—bridles, reins, billet straps, girth buckles, stirrup leathers—and, of course, our informal hunting attire called ratcatcher. Say what?

Some years ago, Carol Riggs, honorary whipper-in for the Red Mountain Foxhounds (NC), asked us, “Where did the term ‘ratcatcher’ come from?” For the answer we turned to our Panel of Experts.

Knuckling Under to Political Correctness in Britain

foxhunting costumeTesco, a multi-national British retailer of merchandise, has knuckled under to a small cadre of animal rights activists and removed a child’s party costume from their lineup of party wares. The item, feared to “encourage children to become animal abusers,” is a scarlet foxhunting tailcoat that sells for £10.41.

Do activists in Britain speak out against Frankenstein or Dracular costumes, as well? Or is it better to be a monster than a foxhunter? What about a military costumes? Will that "encourage children to become" warmongers? It's all so silly.

Thank You for Donating Your Land; Now Get Off It

nodh.klmKaren L. Myers photoAnti-hunting lobbyists in England are pressuring the National Trust to curtail even drag hunting on National Trust lands. The National Trust in turn has recommended that their members vote to do just that. I feel like I've walked through Alice’s looking glass into an alternate world. Where do these people think this land came from, anyway?

Historically, the National Trust was the beneficiary of English country houses which still make up the largest part of its holdings. Many estates even came with requests that foxhunting may continue there. Now, foxhunters and drag hunters are to be excluded from the very land that their forebears placed into the Trust generations ago. Are fairness and equity totally inoperable concepts in today’s Britain?