Fox Hunting Life with Horse and Hound

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I Was the Vixen’s Designated Kit-Sitter

dave ellis.vixen and kitsDave Ellis photo

I had found the den of a family of red foxes and was going early each morning to take pictures of the mother and her young kits. The kits were five or six weeks old, and were at that curious, exploring stage. Their life at that point pretty much consisted of eat, sleep, and play.

The father did not seem to be around, so the vixen had a lot of work to keep her four kits fed and safe. She was not stupid. She soon figured out that she could make use of me. She had to spend several hours each day off in the woods hunting in order to keep the little ones fed, which meant that without a father around, she would have to leave them alone and subject to being found by other predators.

Sporting Art Auction 2018 at Keeneland

hound portrait.vossLot 49, Portrait of a Hound, Franklin Voss (1880–1953), American, oil on board, 12" x 16", signed, dated 1939, Probably commissioned by Anderson Fowler, MFH, Essex Fox Hounds (NJ): $5,000--7,000

November 18, 2018 will mark the sixth annual Sporting Art Auction at the Keeneland Sales Pavilion—a cooperative venture between the world’s largest Thoroughbred auction house and its Lexington, Kentucky neighbor, Cross Gate Gallery, a leading source of the world’s finest sporting art. Collectors will take home works of artistic merit at prices possibly as low as $2,000, many under $5,000, and others as high as six figures.

This year’s offerings, curated by Greg Ladd, feature 175 lots of painting and sculpture by masters long gone as well as by leading sporting artists of the day. Among the European artists represented are Cecil Alden, Samuel Alken, Lionel Edwards, John Emms, John Ferneley, Harry Hall, John Herring, Michael Lyne, Sir Alfred Munnings, and Belinda Sillars. American artists include Jean Bowman, Paul Brown, Herbert Haseltine, Julie Kirk, Booth Malone, Leroy Neiman, Richard Stone Reeves, Edward Troye, Larry Wheeler, and Franklin Voss. Also included are six works by America’s reigning ‘rock star’ of today’s sporting art world, Andre Pater.

Horse Racing Terms: An Illustrated Guide (2)

Book Review by Norman Fine

coates.horse racing termsHorse Racing Terms: An Illustrated Guide by Rosemary Coates, Merlin Unwin Books (UK), hardbound, illustrated in color, 140 pages, available online or directly from publisher, £8.99

Though this book is about the language of horse racing, much of the content is common to all horse people. And hunt racing and steeplechasing terms are included. And the little volume is the work of Rosemary Coates—a favorite illustrator of ours, whose work illuminates Deirdre Hanna’s humorous and continuing series about the two nineteen-year-old girls who left post-war England to work with horses in America.

Maiden, weaver, hands, claimer, the going, pony (the verb!), schooling, stayer—these and more than a hundred other examples of the arcane language of racing and horsemanship are tackled, many accompanied by Rosemary’s clever paintings. Also included is an alphabetic Glossary of Terms and a serious page on “How to read a Racecard.” Just the latter alone could turn the modest price of this book into a sound investment for the occasional race-goer’s next outing at the steeplechase course or racetrack.

William Dunlap: The Walker Foxhound as an Allegory

dunlap“Dunlap” by William Dunlap; foreword by Julia Reed, essay by J. Richard Gruber; Jackson, MS: University of Mississippi Press, 2006; available at Amazon

William Dunlap is an important contemporary artist of the South with a powerful affinity for southern landscapes and Walker foxhounds. Dunlap’s work may be seen in many prestigious collections, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Corcoran Collection of the National Gallery of Art.

His book, Dunlap, features more than one hundred works, produced over a thirty-year period. It is published in a trade hardback and a limited edition of two hundred signed, bound-in-linen covers, housed in a matching linen-covered clamshell box. A signed, numbered print featuring four Walker foxhounds is included in the box. The book's cover features a surrealist landscape with a white Walker foxhound, Delta Dog Trot, appearing ready to climb right out of the painting, a nod to nineteenth century trompe l’oeil techniques. The painting, “Delta Dog Trot, Landscape Askew” hangs at the Alluvian Hotel in Greenwood, Mississippi.

Dunlap’s grandfather was “a foxhunter of the old school,” Dunlap writes. “He bred and hunted generations of pure blood Walker Hounds. With names like Lucky, Mary, Speck, Sally and Bo, these dogs were all legs, lungs, nose and heart. They lived to run, but spent most of their lives laying around the kennel, eating, sleeping, stretching and occasionally giving off the deep-throated mouth that would send any fox in earshot scurrying for the nearest hole.

Hunting Attire, Tack, and Appointments

Foxhunting Life’s guide to correct hunting attire has been prepared with reference to several sources: Foxhunting in North America by Alexander Mackay-Smith, 1985; Guidebook 1997, a publication of the Masters of Foxhounds Association of North America; Riding to Hounds in America by William P. Wadsworth, MFH (first published in 1959 and subsequently in 1962 by The Chronicle of the Horse and reprinted many times); Miller’s Catalog, 1974; and Horse Country catalog, 1997.

Hunt Reports: How Old Dominion's Huntsman Hooks the Kids

HornBlowing edited-1Colby Poe huffs and puffs on huntsman Ross Salter's hunting horn. Honorary whipper-in Denya Dee Leake tells the story.  / Michele Arnold photo

Ross Salter, first-season huntsman at Old Dominion Hounds (VA), and I came to the hunt three seasons ago. There were a few juniors in the field on a regular basis and always a good number on Junior Day. This year, however, the number of juniors on ordinary hunting days has increased dramatically, and Junior Day was a complete surprise to everyone.

We met at Copperfield Farm, between the village of Hume and the village of Orlean. The staff walked to the top of the hill with hounds and waited for the juniors to join us. They started coming up the hill, and they just kept coming and coming. We had juniors that were nearly adults, juniors that were just old enough to ride away from their parents, and some that were being led by their parents! In total we had fifty-two juniors surrounding the hounds.

Including the juniors we had a field of one hundred and nineteen riders. In all of Old Dominion’s history I do not believe that they have seen so many juniors in one place on perfectly behaved horses and ponies. The Masters, Gus Forbush, Dr. Scott Dove, and Douglas Wise-Stuart, each assigned certain kids to each staff member and to become Field Master. Each of us staff members had two kids with us at the beginning, and we slowly brought more kids up as the day went on.

So Why All the Juniors?