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Pentathlon Olympic Gold Medalist Is a Horsewoman First

kate french.modern pentathlon Kate French, a horsewoman from a hunting family, wins the Olympic Gold Medal in the modern pentathlon for Britain.

The battle for gold in Tokyo’s modern pentathlon event involved yet another Olympian drama. Annika Schleu of Germany, comfortably in the lead going into the last day of the finals, experienced a meltdown in the equestrian test, catapulting Britain’s Kate French to the Gold Medal by the end of the afternoon.

Kate French, thirty years old, is at home on a horse. “I come from a riding background mainly; I’ve been riding since I was very little,” she said in an interview. French had horses from an early age and grew up in Pony Club. Her mother is Master of a mounted pack of hard-running bloodhounds, and her father is a Master of Beagles. She is the grand-niece of Derek French, ex-Master of the Eglinton and Caledon Hounds in Ontario (and an author and contributor to FHL).

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Mark Beecher: From Ireland to the USA

 Mark Beecher riding the winner Professor Maxwell of the Maryland Hunt Cup without stirrups over 13th Fence which is 4 foot 9 inches Mark Beecher riding Professor Maxwell, winners of the 2013 Maryland Hunt Cup   /  Noel Mullins photo

It’s always fascinating to talk with somebody successful in one equestrian discipline, challenges himself in another, changes continents, and proves immensely successful again. Now Mark Beecher has decided to step back from competitive riding and take up training.

I talked with Mark at his present home in Maryland in the USA. He is from a hunting and showjumping background. I was aware of some of his successes in the States, having seen him race riding, but I didn’t realise the enormity of what he has achieved in just eight years as a jockey in the USA. Surely, hunting and show jumping have contributed to that success.

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Major Charles Kindersley and the Modern English Foxhound

Virtually every coop, bridge, landmark, or covert in the Belle Meade Hunt foxhunting country (GA) has a name, so that huntsman, mounted whippers-in, and road whips can accurately and concisely communicate where the action is by radio. What does this have to do with the late Major Kindersley, MFH of Ontario's Eglinton Caledon Hunt? Only that one of the coops very often in the middle of the hunting action is named “Major Kindersley’s Coop,” and virtually everyone who has hunted at Belle Meade is familiar with the name. Here's the Major's story.

major charles kindersley

In 1919, George Beardmore, MFH of the Toronto and North York Hunt (ON), bought the old World War I aerodrome land on Avenue Road and Eglinton Avenue for the purpose of setting up a riding establishment, including a drag pack. Most of the Toronto and North York members lived in Toronto and travelled the twenty-five miles to the kennels in Aurora only on weekends. These new facilities gave members the opportunity to ride during the week, hunt with the drag pack, and still keep up with their day’s work at the office. Over the years that pack became known as the Eglinton Hunt. Between the wars, the Eglinton Hunt also acquired land on Leslie Street north of Toronto.

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Charlie and Donald Swan

swan.charlie.hhcropA Horse&Hound Legend of the Sport, Charlie Swan was Champion Jockey for 9 consecutive years until his retirement.

The bond between son Charlie and father Donald shone like a beacon when I had the opportunity to speak to them both during the lock-down. Charlie begins their story.

“Dad adored his riding, whether it was hunting or riding as an amateur. And I guess he passed that on to me. He loved the training and always had a few horses for me to ride. My great-grandfather on my mother’s side was champion flat Jockey in England and rode a Derby winner. I would have often looked to Dad for advice, and I gained a lot of experience with him.”

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