Fox Hunting Life with Horse and Hound

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Nation's Top Horse Trainers Gather for Michael Richardson Benefit

I spent a grand week in Aiken, South Carolina recently. It was business first, with three book signings scheduled: one at the beautiful Willcox Hotel on Tuesday (Horsemen’s Night); Wednesday at Equine Divine, a lovely gift shop for all things equine; and Thursday in Camden at the Tack Room. It was a week to see old friends and make new friends. After three days of business, there was a day’s hunting with George and Jeannie Thomas, MFHs of the Why Worry Hounds. A Hunt Report of that day is in the works to be posted shortly.

Michael Richardson has amazing rapport with horses.

I stayed with my friend Art Richardson, ex-MFH of the Wayne-Du Page Hunt in Illinois. Art and wife Judy leave the cold weather behind every year and spend the winter months in Aiken. Art hunts with the Aiken packs and brings his two grand-daughters, Mackenzie and Virginia, to visit and hunt with him as often as possible. Life is good for us.

Well...most of us. For Art’s son Michael, life could be better. Michael is a horseman and was a foxhunter in his younger years. At the age of twenty, Michael was involved in an automobile accident that left him paralyzed from the waist down. That’s not the current problem, though.

The Story of John Peel

MP3 audio download is at the bottom of this article. Subscribe or log in to hear and download the music!

One night in 1829, John Woodcock Graves sat in his parlor with John Peel, a farmer, horse dealer, and foxhunter whose hounds were highly celebrated by the local sheep farmers. From the adjoining room, Graves overheard his son's granny singing an ancient Irish melody to the child. Graves took that old melody and wrote a new set of lyrics to honor his friend, John Peel.

"I sang it to poor Peel," Graves wrote, "who smiled through a stream of tears which fell down his manly cheeks, and I well remember saying to him in a joking style, ‘By Jove, Peel, you’ll be sung when we’re both run to earth!’"

Forty years later, William Metcalfe, Choirmaster of Carlisle Cathedral, heard the song at a banquet. He set down the tune in musical notation for the first time together with Graves’ words, composed a piano accompaniment, and had it performed locally. He went on to London with his choir and on May 22, 1869 performed the song at the dinner of the Cumberland Benevolent Society from whence it spread quickly over the English-speaking world, propelling John Peel into the most famous foxhunter of all time.

New From FHL: Music, Lyrics, and Audio Downloads

norm_in_pinqueBefore TV, video games, and texting, foxhunters used to entertain themselves with stories, poems, and songs. Foxhunting families would often break into song at the table after dinner, and windows rattled at many a hunt breakfast with songs of foxhunting.

My good friend Caroline Treviranus Leake remembers impromptu songfests at the dinner table led by her step-father, the late Alexander Mackay-Smith. The entire family—mother Marilyn and sisters Denya and Leslie—would join in. Caroline remembers those times with the greatest of pleasure—times of togetherness, good cheer, and shared enjoyment.

Hunt Breakfast Recipe Contest in Full Swing

Denya Clarke photo

What a great response you made to our Hunt Breakfast Recipe Contest! We got some mouth-watering recipes that will surely be big hits with cold and hungry foxhunters.

For ease of preparation and instant warmth, Cathy Springer’s Tortellini and Meatball Soup will be hard to beat. We’ve already received a rave notice from someone who served it at a hunt breakfast and to her family at the dinner table.

Here are the contest rules once more:

FHL Banner Features Opening Meets

NormanThis is the season for Opening Meets. We’ve been getting some lovely photographs of that special day, so we decided to populate our website banner with them. Take a look at the show in our Foxhunting Life banner above!

Although Virginia is well-represented, we need images of Opening Meets from other hunting countries as well. If you have a good photo of your hunt’s Opening Meet, send it to us. Go to the Horse and Hound drop-down menu and click on How to Submit.

Note: When selecting photos to send us, choose ones that will fit into the long horizontal format you see in the banner above.

Essential Information

Liz Callar photo
Not long after my wife and I moved to Clarke County, Virginia, a new rector was hired by the Episcopal Church in Millwood. He was taken aside by one of the old, established landowners who wanted to help him acclimate to his new surroundings.

"You are a very important personage in the community," said the landowner helpfully, "but do you know who is the most important?"

"No, who?" asked the rector.

"The Master of Foxhounds," said the landowner.

In the light of the importance of rank and the start of a new social season, FHL thought that we should provide hosts and hostesses with some helpful advice on correct seating arrangements for your next dinner party.

Hunt Breakfast Recipe Contest!

NormanOne interesting statistic from the FHL website that got our attention told us that our Hunt Breakfast Recipe pages receive a lot of hits. Since we want to feature subjects that are important to you, our readers, we had an idea.

With Opening Meets occurring with increasing frequency over the next couple of weeks and cubhunting tailgates morphing into more formal hunt breakfasts, we thought we ought to expand our stable of recipes. So we’re having a contest!

If you point to the Social drop-down menu above and click on Hunt Breakfast Recipes, you will see that our recipes are organized into seven categories: Appetizers, Breads, Desserts & Sweets, Flask Concoctions, Main Dishes, Side Dishes & Accompaniments, and Soups & Salads.

Here are the contest rules: You are invited to submit a favorite recipe in any category. You may submit as many recipes as you like. Recipes will be judged by prominent chefs on aptness, gustatorial satisfaction, and ease of preparation. All recipes received through December 31, 2010 will qualify for the contest. The winner—one for each category—will be announced, interviewed for additional useful tips on putting on hunt breakfasts, and will receive a gift of FHL's DVD, Calls on the Horn, featuring John Tabachka. Winners will be announced after the new year.

Simply click on the red type—Submit One Now—here or on the Hunt Breakfast recipe page and upload, type, or paste your favorite hunt breakfast recipe into the appropriate spaces. Images may be uploaded as well. The idea is to provide the best resource possible for the satisfaction of tired, happy, and hungry foxhunters. Let’s see what you got!
October 26, 2010