Fox Hunting Life with Horse and Hound

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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?

Fox Hunting or Foxhunting?

nodh.klmKaren L. Myers photoI have been asked by writers, publishers, and even by just curious individuals over the years, which written form is correct—fox hunting (two words) or foxhunting (one word)?

From what I have seen, the style of the term most commonly used by people who do not hunt is fox hunting (two words). Supporting this choice is a highly respected reference book for writers and publishers, the Chicago Manual of Style, that recommends two separate words. To be sure, there are also some highly respected experts on hunting who also use the two-word version. So, you can’t go wrong using fox hunting. Nevertheless, I use the one-word form, foxhunting, in all my articles, books, and published material. Here’s why.

Hark Forward! An Exciting Season Is Ahead

tony leahyMFHA President Tony Leahy, MFHIt was ten years ago, but MFHA President Tony Leahy yearns to recapture the fun and enthusiasm of the 2007 MFHA Centennial Season. We had Regional Joint Meets, Foxhound Performance Trials, and Field Hunter Trials all across North America, and Tony wants to do it again! Accordingly, the upcoming 2017/2018 season has been designated a season to Hark Forward!

All events are accompanied by dinners, parties, and the company of sporting cousins from all across the country. No one goes home hungry or thirsty! The MFHA is maintaining an up-to-date schedule of events on their website. Click for planning your own participation. Take note of the dates and geography. If you join the caravans for all or part of any of the event tours, you’ll find hunt clubs along the route that have scheduled Friendship Meets and more hospitality to break up your long drives.

Foxhunting Tips

nodh.klmKaren Myer photoYou just received the most beautiful fox head earrings last week for your birthday. Won’t they look smashing in the hunting field, worn with your new dark blue frock coat?

You just heard a staccato burst of perhaps ten rapid notes on the huntsman’s horn from inside the covert. What’s happening?

Your blood is up, hounds are racing in full cry, your horse is jumping every obstacle with enthusiasm, and it’s clearly the best run of the season. You gallop through an open gate and repeat the call you heard from riders ahead of you. “Gate, please!” Have you fulfilled your duty?

The whipper-in gallops by and advises the Field Master that a leash of foxes just left the covert. What?

Et Tu, New York Times?

pawing3Teddy, pawing the pavement  /  Sketch of New York TImes photo
Damon Winter, writing cut lines for a New York Times article about Mayor Bill de Blasio’s attempts to ban horse drawn carriages in New York City, got taken. In so doing, the Times published fake news.

Here's Winter's caption for the photo sketched above: “Teddy signaling his desire for more food by scraping his shoes on the sidewalk.”

Oh, we get it alright. We're supposed to believe that poor Teddy is being starved and abused by his carriage driver.

What happened to fact-checking here? Obviously, Winter knows nothing about horses, nor do the animal activists that fed him that line. And if they do know something about horses, that’s even worse. They would know there are many reasons for a horse to scratch the ground aside from hunger, and would be knowingly lying.

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