Fox Hunting Life with Horse and Hound

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To the New Hunting Season

bijou springs

The midsummer fog slips unwillingly down the valley walls and deepens as it sinks into the valley floor, leaving fingers of lingering shreds in the recesses, and wisps on the branches of trees.

Much like its liquid counterpart, it flows around obstacles in its path, and moving objects leave a wake through the waves of opaqueness. So moves the fox in his daily routine, luxurious brush swaying back and forth in time with the lazy trot that carries him along, leaving his scent wafting backward in the liquid air.

In the kennel, the breeze carrying the ripples of scented air tickles the noses of the resting hounds, yanking them to their feet and sending aloft a chorus of protesting bays as they bounce along the kennel fence, begging to be set free to find the source of the scent-laden waft.

On the hill, the grazing horses lift their heads and gaze toward the kennel, knowing that hounds do not speak lightly but announce the presence of only important things. Seeing no immediate threat, they return to grazing but move closer together, ears flicking back and forth, seeking further information.

AKC English Foxhound Standard Needs Updating

nodh.klmIt’s a shame that there exists a disconnect between AKC foxhound standards and those of the foxhunting community. Not that foxhunters need be concerned with AKC foxhound standards. The Masters of Foxhounds Associations in this country and in England maintain their own breed registries, and both registries are orders of magnitude larger than the AKC foxhound registry.

One would think, though, that the AKC should be more than a little interested in what foxhunters are breeding. After all, foxhunters are the ones using foxhounds for the purpose for which they were originally bred.

To look at the AKC standard for the English foxhound is to be stuck in a time warp of more than fifty years. According to a recent article by Ann Roth in DogChannel.com, the AKC breed standard for the English Foxhound was composed more than fifty years ago by foxhunters.

I’m not certain just which foxhunters the AKC was talking to fifty years ago, but I don’t believe the English foxhound photo accompanying Roth's article or the English foxhound painting found on the AKC website would have been models for any pack of that time, here or in England. They are more reminiscent of the so-called Shorthorn era in England, a period between the mid-nineteenth and the early twentieth centuries, when fashionable foxhounds of the time were criticized for resembling Shorthorn cattle.

Sir Alfred Munnings In Open Air

munnings2We have all admired the paintings of Sir Alfred Munnings and his portrayal of the horse in motion—flowing, graceful, muscles rippling, indescribably beautiful. Not to mention his figures of elegant ladies riding sidesaddle and his scarlet-coated huntsmen. Lovely paintings, but being unfamiliar with the artist as a man, I saw them in only two dimensions.

Then the National Sporting Library and Museum (NSLM) in Middleburg, Virginia mounted this once-in-a-lifetime exhibit of almost seventy Munnings paintings with revealing descriptions of each work, and the man came to life for me. And learning about the man brought the paintings to life.

One of the elegant ladies riding sidesaddle is Munnings’ first wife, a troubled soul who attempted suicide on her wedding night. This part of Munnings’ story is told in Jonathan Smith’s fascinating book, Summer in February, just released as a motion picture. Other paintings of lady and horse are of his second wife. Looking at the paintings of these two women with my new-found knowledge, the differences in mood and tension were there to see.

Horse Slaughter to Resume in the U.S.

nodh.klmThe U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has finally given the go-ahead for resumption of the regulated slaughter of horses once again in this country as predicted in our report of March 9, 2013. This turn-around on the part of the government is in response to a reputable study showing that the welfare of horses was harmed by Congressional legislation that closed slaughter plants here.

Animal rights groups will now pressure Congress and the White House for more misguided legislation. Your opinions need to be expressed. Click here to learn how.

Most media news articles reporting the recent USDA action have approached the story from the horsemeat angle. The sensitivity of many in this country to the use of horses for human consumption is a powerfully emotional issue, and such headlines sell newspapers. However, what the media mostly ignore in this story is that the Government Accounting Office (GAO), Congress’s independent investigative arm, bluntly reported to Congress in 2011, that horse welfare had been harmed by their legislation that resulted in the closing of all horse processing plants in this country.

Open Forum

NormanDid you know that Foxhunting Life has a Forum that invites discussion amongst participants on any topic? The most impressive thing about the FHL Forum so far has been the staggering extent to which it has been unused. So, we are trying to do something about that.

Previously open to only paid subscribers, we have decided to open Forum to participation by all visitors. With increased access, we hope it will develop into a useful—and used—adjunct to our other resources which, I am relieved to say, have enjoyed a far greater reception by you!

Find Forum under the “Social” drop-down menu in the row of buttons across the top of the screen. (Perhaps we have done a good job of hiding it from you all these years.)

If you have something worthwhile to add to any existing thread, please do so. For example, Cathy Eising adopted a foxhound some months ago, and wants to communicate with anyone who has had a similar experience. Click to see Cathy’s thread.

If you have a point for discussion or a question upon which you would like your peers to weigh in, go ahead and start a new thread. We invite discussion on any civilized topic connected in any way, however remotely, to foxhunting.

Posted June 17, 2013

A Dream Fulfilled


bb.deb1(l-r) Megan, Deb, and Marti

The inspiration for this trip happened quite by accident. While traveling with cousins in the southwestern part of England in May of 2012 , we happened to stop for a Sunday roast at the pub in the tiny hamlet of Highclere Castle, the home of the wonderful television series, Downton Abbey.

We had missed, by a day, a trail ride on the grounds of the castle. My cousin Marti and I have taken many riding trips and are always looking for a new adventure. We began to dream of a trip in England where we would ride in some of the places that we had read about all of our lives in English novels but had never seen. As we visited the Exmoor and the Dartmoor, the haunts of wild ponies and the characters of Daphne du Maurier, we became more excited. We did not, however, have any idea how to accomplish our vision.

Covertside: The Complete Set

norman.karen.farnleyKaren Myers photoA private party, unrelated to Foxhunting Life, has contacted us to offer for sale a complete set of Covertside publications starting with the very first—a four-page newsletter dated May 1994—up to the Spring, 2013 issue. At four issues a year (just three the first year), that computes to seventy-six issues. We will happily put any interested party in touch with the seller.

The set comprises a treasure trove of foxhunting knowledge, information, and entertainment. Many of the most knowledgeable leaders of our sport contributed their wisdom to Covertside’s pages on topics of their specialties: hound breeding, hunting hounds in the field, judging hounds, whipping-in, leading the field; art, literature, and history. World-class writers, artists, and photographers enhanced the content.

By the end of 2004, Covertside had grown to a twenty-four page newsletter, printed in four-color process. The publication made its first appearance as a full-color magazine with the March 2005 issue, after which it was able to showcase foxhunting’s gorgeous imagery as well as the written word.

Interested parties may contact Foxhunting Life, and we will put you in touch with the seller. FHL might even be able to persuade the original editor to inscribe the inaugural issue, if the buyer so wishes!

Posted May 20, 2013