Fox Hunting Life with Horse and Hound

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New Exhibits at Museum of Hounds and Hunting: One Master’s Retirement Project

meg gardner toy horse

I’m looking forward to the new exhibits at the Museum of Hounds and Hunting. They’ll open the day before the Virginia Foxhound Show at Morven Park, Saturday afternoon, May 25, 2019 at 4:00 pm. In addition to the permanent exhibits, including the hallowed Huntsmen’s Room, visitors will see twelve ancient wooden toy horses lovingly restored by Meg Gardner, ex-MFH and Field Master of the Middleburg Hunt (VA). Meg retired as Master in 1994.

She was a superb horsewoman and adventurous Field Master. I followed her over a five-foot stone wall once—yes, someone measured it—and we weren’t even running at the time. In cold blood. Just something she decided to do for a lark. No panel. No rider. Just a solid stone wall. But as for artistic restoration of wooden rocking horses? Who knew?

The Sun Shines After Trial By Fire

deep run and blue ridge hounds on exerciseC’mon, Gotta Walk a Few Hounds..  /   Sheri Buston photoIt’s a week and a half since huntsman John Harrison was suddenly faced with, then miraculously dealt with what could have been a horrendous outcome of that day’s electric storm. A bolt of lightning struck the power meter at the Deep Run Hunt kennels and the building burned to the ground.

We’ve all heard how, with flaming shards falling from above, John was unable to reach hounds to free them from their pens. Needing another way in, he took a tractor to the perimeter and used the bucket loader to smash a way through, saving virtually all the foxhounds. The nightmare that ‘could have been’ was mercifully averted by John’s quick thinking and bold action.

Top British Steeplechase Trainers Diss Foxhunting

nodh.klmPeter Scargill, writing for the Racing Post, reports that three Cheltenham Festival-winning trainers “launched a ferocious assault” on Nick Rust, CEO of the British Horseracing Authority (BHA). In their letter, they rebuked Rust for a list of faults, among them Rust’s recent comparison of racing to a sport like foxhunting—a blood sport—and pronounced Rust unqualified for his leadership role. What?

We publish this report not to judge the merits or policies of the BHA either pro or con, but to express our regret that horsemen of any discipline—especially a discipline like racing which is also a target of animal rights activists, and even more especially a discipline so closely related to foxhunting—would leap to disavow foxhunting in a pathetic attempt to distance themselves and curry favor with those swayed by virulent animal rights activism.

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.

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.

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.