Fox Hunting Life with Horse and Hound

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Six Fox Pens Ordered Closed in Virginia

The Associated Press has reported the closure of six fox pens in the aftermath of an investigation by the Animal Law Unit of the Attorney General’s office in Virginia. Twenty-three fox pens in the Commonwealth remain open.

Nine people pleaded guilty for stocking the pens with illegally purchased wildlife and face fines and suspended sentences. The six pens that had their licenses revoked are located in the counties of Buckingham, Lunenburg, Appomattox, Dinwiddie, King and Queen, and Brunswick. Two are permanently shut down; four could potentially reopen if the verdicts are appealed and overturned.

In general, wildlife may not be purchased and sold in Virginia. Pen owners may legally contract with trappers to provide foxes, compensation for which must be based on the trapper’s time and effort for the service.

A law passed in 2014 is intended to eventually phase out fox penning entirely. No new fox pens may be licensed in Virginia, but the existing pens were grandfathered and eventually will have to close.

Some mounted foxhunting clubs use fox pens to train puppies. The pens are also used by individuals who simply enjoy running their hounds. Foxes are provided with refuges within the pen to allow them to escape hounds when pressed. Licensing rules also limit the number of hounds that may be in a pen at any one time. However, fox pens have been under fire from animal rights activists for years. Other foxhound breeders, night hunters, and field trial enthusiasts are said to use pens for competitions and betting, according to opponents.

Bob Duncan, executive director of the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, said that fox penning is a way to have sport with hounds without the danger of running through crops or causing accidents on the highway. The fox pens are popular, he said, and people come from states all across the country to train and run their dogs.

Posted July 20, 2018

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.

Macron: Revive French Presidential Hunts

French President Emmanuel Macron is calling for the tradition of “presidential hunts” to be revived. This in the face of increasing public support for a ban on hunting with hounds. Presidential hunts were abolished in 2010 by then President Nicholas Sarkozy.

One a useful asset in French diplomacy, according to Macron, presidential hunting parties were arranged for visiting world leaders to experience a part of French culture. With almost four hundred registered hunts—more than any other nation—stag and deer hunting still flourishes in France.

“I will be the president who develops hunting,” Macron told a recent meeting of the French Hunters’ Federation, according to David Chazan, writing for The Telegraph.

Presidential hunts grew out of the royal hunts introduced in the late sixteenth century by King Francois I. The hunts were held on the grounds of the Chateau de Chambord in the Loire Valley and in other stately homes.

While a recent poll determined that eighty-four percent of citizens were in favor of a hunting ban as introduced by a far-left politician, an actual ban is deemed unlikely.

Click for more details.

Posted April 3, 2018

Dowling Returns: Will Carry the Horn at Cheshire

ivan dowling.small.jim grahamIvan Dowling photo by Jim GrahamThe Masters and Directors of Mr. Stewart’s Cheshire Foxhounds (PA) have announced the return of Ivan Dowling as professional huntsman for the well-respected pack.

Dowling returned to hunt the Cheshire hounds on a temporary basis in February, upon the departure of huntsman Barry Magner, then in his second season. A search committee was established to review other potential applicants but decided instead to propose reviving the hunt’s previous long term relationship with Dowling. The retired huntsman enthusiastically agreed, according to the recent announcement from the hunt.

Hunting Convictions Reversed; Critical Evidence Withheld?

paul larby.groveandrufford.barclayHuntsman Paul Larby and the foxhounds of the Grove and Rufford, UK / James Barclay photoThree happy foxhunters in Britain just had their convictions quashed after having been found guilty and fined last year in court.

Two men and a woman affiliated with the Grove and Rufford Foxhounds in Nottinghamshire were charged and prosecuted in a British Magistrates Court for illegally hunting a fox. Huntsman Paul Larby, terrier man Peter White, and whipper-in Jane Wright were convicted and fined £1,128; £853; and £448 respectively. But did the police and Crown Prosecutor withhold evidence that would have exonerated the three?