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What the Captain Said at the Point-to-Point

siegfried sassoon2Siegfried SassoonLife for Siegfried Sassoon began as a blithe sail through a sea of privileged ease—foxhunting and playing cricket—until he found himself mired in the mud and rat-infested trenches of World War I. It was one of history’s deadliest wars, and Sassoon lost many dear friends before its conclusion. Indeed, virtually everyone in Britain lost one or more family members.

Ten years after surviving the war, Sassoon—twice decorated for bravery and finally wounded—wrote Memoirs of a Foxhunting Man, then Memoirs of an Infantry Officer, and, finally, Sherston’s War, to complete his well-known trilogy. I'm always moved while reading even the innocent moments of Fox-Hunting Man—the parts before the war—knowing that while writing the book he’d already been tempered and aged by his wartime experiences and personal losses. One can almost feel him reaching back to recapture the simplicity of a time that, for him and his generation, had passed forever.

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Horse Slaughter: 2019 Update

nodh.klmThe last of Foxhunting Life’s many articles on the emotional subject of horse slaughter was published in May of 2014. It’s time for an update.

In 2014, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved a bill which, in effect, assured that the ban on the humane slaughter of horses, instituted seven years earlier in the U.S., would continue.

This, despite a report by the highly respected General Accounting Office (GAO)—Congress’s own watchdog agency—that, because of Congress’s ban, and the subsequent closure of all horse processing plants in the U.S., unwanted horses had to travel further (to Mexico and Canada) and, in many cases, were slaughtered under worse conditions than before. As a result, the GAO emphatically told Congress that their ban on horse processing had actually harmed horse welfare.

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Robin Bledsoe: A Sporting Reader's Resource

bledsoe booksThe Blue Rider (Der Blaue Reiter) by Franz Marc provides Robin's logo.I don’t know why it took so long, but Robin Bledsoe, Bookseller is the first purveyor of books to appear in Foxhunting Life's outstanding lineup of commercial sponsors. I mark this event because, as our readers know, foxhunting literature is one of our favorite subjects.

I have known Robin Bledsoe for at least 40 years, going back to when I still lived near my native Boston. I remember visiting her shop numerous times on “Mass Ave” in Cambridge, where she was selling books on a part-time basis. The shop was known then as Blue Rider Books, and she was the only expert on horse books in the Boston/Cambridge area. She still buys and sells both rare and new books, and just imagine what she’s learned since.

With art history degrees from both Wellesley College and Columbia University, Robin is a font of knowledge, pleasant to converse with as well, and I would urge anyone to consult with her on any questions about horses and foxhunting in literature and art. You’ll find contact information on her website. If you want to browse, set aside some time! It’s all there under linked categories. Find foxhunting books under Hunting, Hounds, Country Life, Field Sports.

Posted December 6, 2018

Urban Foxes

urban fox4

If the lives of 10,000 foxes per year have been saved by the Hunting Act of 2004 in England, and if four cubs in each litter survive to mate each succeeding year, how many foxes and their progeny have been exponentially added to the formerly sustainable fox population in the countryside and where have they gone? Why, to the cities, of course.

Foxhunting Life gets mail, even from Sunny Sutton in London. Here’s one recent exchange.

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Judge to De Blasio: Hold Your Horses

nodh.klmIt’s been over a year since we last reported on New York Mayor Bill de Blasio’s continuing campaign to rid the city of its iconic carriage horses. In my view, the carriages horses play a romantic and historic counterpoint to the powerful, bustling, modern city. Foxhunting Life has been reporting to you on de Blasio’s machinations in this silly war, financed and urged on by animal rights activists, since 2014.

So far, de Blasio’s efforts have been thwarted. But working on the principle—if you can’t beat ’em, just keep nibbling away—the city recently proposed to enact new Department of Transportation rules moving the horses and carriages off the city streets to designated spots inside Central Park. Only in the Park would they be allowed to pick up and drop off customers.

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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.

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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.

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