Fox Hunting Life with Horse and Hound

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The Find: How to Watch and Listen

In this excerpt from “Foxhunting: How to Watch and Listen,” the author reveals what goes through the huntsman’s mind as hounds find their fox and push it into the open. In Robards' celebrated book, the entire chase is chronicled from beginning to end, first from the standpoint of the huntsman, then from the viewpoints of the whipper-in, the Field Master, the hounds, and the fox.

robards.mburg photo.cropHugh Robards and the hounds of the Middleburg Hunt  /  Middleburg Photo

Try to position yourself so you can hear what the huntsman is doing. You may hear a hound whimper. The huntsman has not only heard, but he has seen Wagtail trying to take a line to the edge of the covert where some thick briars cover the boundary ditch. The pack also heard the whimper and, knowing it is Wagtail, a hound on whose opinion they can rely, have come in close to her and the huntsman. Now you might see the huntsman quietly edge his hounds toward the ditch. As you strain to hear what is going on, everything in the covert falls silent.

The Origins of “Tally Ho”

tally ho.neil amatt.kleckThe "Tally Ho" / Nancy Kleck photo

The next time you view old Reynard or that sneaky coyote slipping away from covert, you may be tempted to call out “Tally Ho.” There are occasions in the hunting field when it is appropriate to yell this call out loudly-and-clearly, but with our modern methods it is more likely that the huntsman will be informed by a whipper-in with a quick call over the hunt radio that the quarry has broken cover.

The quiet approach will be less disturbing to the hounds but it will not stir the adrenaline like the old-fashioned blood-curdling call of Tally Ho, yelled out loud at the top of your voice! Such an old-school call in the hunting field causes the mounted field to take in that extra hole in their girth, to cease “coffee housing” with their companions, and for the horses’ ears to prick forward in anticipation of exciting action to come.

Letting Hounds Run in a New Season

Galway Blazers huntsman Tom Dempsey.mullinsHuntsman Tom Dempsey and the County Galway foxhounds head to the first draw at Riona and John Naughton's farm in Newcastle. / Noel Mullins photo

Everything that happens in the hunt kennels and hound shows during the spring and summer seasons are just activities and events that lead up to the first morning of the autumn hunting season. It can be August for some packs and September for others when hounds are allowed to run for the first time.

The huntsman will have planned and implemented the breeding of his new entry probably two years beforehand by selecting a stallion hound that he thinks would match a bi*ch in his kennels, and indeed raise the profile of the rest of his pack. He may want to breed more drive into his pack by selecting an Old English cross, or more voice by selecting an American cross.

The Dublin Horse Show: Pictures of my Memories

dublin horse show.mullinsNoel Mullins, lifelong foxhunter and sporting photo/journalist in Ireland, and a frequent contributor to Foxhunting Life, launches his new book at the Dublin Horse Show this week.

The Dublin Horse Show: Pictures of My Memories is packed with eight hundred images of the world-famous show, selected from more than ten years-worth of thousands of Mullins' show photographs as well as other historical images. Matthew Dempsey, past-president of the Royal Dublin Society (RDS) has written the Foreword.

First held in 1864, the Dublin Horse Show featured a “Leaping Competition” (as it was then known) in 1868. The first winner was Richard Flynn, a sheep farmer from County Roscommon, on his hunter Shaun Rhue. He shared a prize fund of £55 but sold the horse to Squire Conolly of Castletown House, the founder of the Kildare Foxhounds for £1,000. He jumped six feet one-and-one-half inches over the Stone Wall.