This Week in...
MFHA Signs Up EQ Media for Communications
Equine-oriented media firm will help plan and execute a comprehensive communications strategy. (pg. 2)
...Our Hunting World
Coincidences of the Field by Deirdre Hanna
“You’ll never believe who I just saw!” Coincidence, fluke, or small world? (pg. 3)
A Gloriously Fine Hunting Day by Epp Wilson
Afer a big day, the huntsman follows with a frank post-hunt analysis. (pg. 6)
...Hunting Days of Yore
Major Charles Kindersley and the Modern English Foxhound by Denya Massey Clarke with Lynne Kindersley Dole
Remembering the wise and witty veteran of 2 world wars, Master and huntsman, renowned hound breeder and judge. (pg. 12)
Charlie and Donald Swan by Dickie Power
The bonds between father and son, Master and 9-time champion jump jockey. (pg. 17)
MFHA Signs Up EQ Media for Communications
By Norman Fine
The Masters of Foxhounds Association of North America (MFHA) has engaged EQ Media to manage and execute the association’s communications. Based in Wellington, Florida, EQ Media describes itself as a “full service media agency with an equestrian focus.”
“After completing the most recent strategic planning session, the board recognized even more fully the importance of committing to a broader, more comprehensive communications strategy,” said MFHA President Leslie Rhett Crosby (MFH of the Mooreland Hunt in Alabama). “EQ Media is the perfect partner to guide and move MFHA into the future.”
EQ Media will promote MFHA’s activities, trumpet the association’s impressive but little-known conservation efforts, and its contributions to canine health research through its decade-long research project on tick-borne illnesses at the University of Iowa. Plans are also underway for a rebranding process, a new website, a retooled Covertside magazine, new affiliations and partnerships, and more robust communications.
“Our team is ready to dig in and tell the MFHA story,” said Carrie Wirth, the marketing and communications veteran who founded EQ Media in 2016.
The MFHA, established in 1907, is the governing body of organized mounted foxhunting in the U.S. and Canada. It has established requirements for hunt clubs and standards of sportsmanship necessary for registration and recognition under its jurisdiction. And it remains responsible for auditing member hunts’ adherence to the standards.
The MFHA registers the hunting territories for all member hunts. In the event of conflict between hunts, the association attempts to provide mediation through its regional directors.
One of the MFHA’s most vital responsibilities is the meticulous registration of all foxhounds in all member hunts and publication of a stud book and foxhound pedigrees—an absolute requirement for responsible documentation and improvement of the breed.
The not-for-profit MFHA maintains two foundations. Overall is the MFHA Foundation, providing financial support for several important programs as well as funds for the Hunt Staff Benefit Foundation. The MFHA Foundation supports the MFHA’s Professional Development Program, promotes conservation of open space and habitat, educates the public about foxhunting, and partners with the University of Iowa in canine tick-born disease research by providing data for statistical analysis. The Hunt Staff Benefit Foundation provides both short- and long-term monetary assistance to retired or injured professional huntsmen in need.
Posted February 23, 2021
Coincidences of the Field
By Deirdre Hanna
Our Hunting World
The author with renowned sporting photographer Jim Meads at the Peterborough Hound Show / Ginnie Beard photo
Life is full of amazing flukes—or coincidences—but for me by far the largest percentage have had something to do with foxhunting. So, starting at the beginning, I can hear the phone ringing and on the other end of the line is my Aunt April.
“You’ll never believe it,” she said, “but I’ve just been to the dentist and while sitting in the Waiting Room I picked up a copy of Hounds magazine. Remembering that you write for them, I was very interested to have a look at it. Imagine my amazement when I opened it and there was a photograph of my mother! She was riding side-saddle on her horse, San Toy, ready to hack to the meet.”
I had a feeling Aunt April would find something I had written. Otherwise she’d not have rung. However, that she would open the magazine and see a photograph of her mother—my grandmother—was very funny, and we both had a good laugh. The article was about the ‘value of keeping hunting logs.’”
“What a fluke,” said Aunt April, and we hung up.
It turned out to be the summer for coincidences...or flukes. Not long after my aunt’s call, I found myself in for another round of these extra-sensory moments.
We were visiting the States and had been invited to stay with John Coles, MFH of the Orange County Hounds in Virginia. This was hugely generous of both himself and his wife. Not only had they given us a small cottage for the stay, but had also asked us to dinner on our first night there, after the Virginia Foxhound Show. No sooner had we arrived for dinner than there was a power outage and we had to eat dinner by candlelight—which I will never forget. The lights flickered on and off through the meal which made for light-hearted amusement for us guests and further worries for our hosts.
I must explain that it was my habit to give any family we visited a copy of Hounds magazine. I had brought several copies from England, but such had been the pace of things that I had not had time to read this recent issue myself. When we sat for dinner, John opened the magazine.
“Well, well, here we are,” he said. “The Orange County Hounds on the middle-page spread in Hounds magazine. Look at that!”
It was a series of photographs of American hounds, and amongst them was John with his hounds. Here, thousands of miles from England I give an English hunting magazine to our host and hostess and in it is an article about American packs and a photograph of my host and his hounds. Totally appropriate to the occasion, and I hadn’t had a clue! What were the odds? All this and a power outage, too.
We then traveled northward to the Bryn Mawr Hound Show. It was a route I had traveled before, when we freeloaders from England come over for the Virginia show then to the other show held one week later in Pennsylvania. As do many folks. However, not many are as lucky as we have been, in that on both occasions Jeep Cochran allowed us to be thorough nuisances by staying with her. She is the most generous person in the world.
It was, on this second occasion, the turn of my traveling companion to have the next magazine moment. As he went to bed that night, what should he spy on the bedside table but a copy of the UK magazine, The Field.
“Nice of Jeep to be so thoughtful,” he told us the next morning. By now you may have guessed what happened. He opened the magazine and there staring him in the face was a boatyard in England. Not any old boatyard, but the boatyard where his son designed and built yachts!
Back in England, again, attending the Peterborough Hound Show. I am in the Hounds magazine tent talking to Michael Sagar, our Editor, and I’m telling him about my first article for a series we planned on the subject of Hound Intelligence.
“Michael, I was absolutely thrilled to get a story this week from John Masterton, MFH of the Melbourne Hunt in Australia.”
Not a moment after I uttered those words, I hear a voice over my shoulder.
“Good morning, I am John Masterton from the Melbourne Hunt. I flew in from Australia yesterday!’”
Several years later, again at the Peterborough Hound Show, and with the temperature at one hundred degrees Fahrenheit, I was interviewing Micky Wills, then huntsman of the Grafton Foxhounds. He was telling me the story of his life and the places where he had worked.
“One of the most wonderful jobs I had was in America. I was fortunate enough to get the job as huntsman with the Iroquois Hunt in Kentucky. Jerry Miller was the Master then.”
At the time we were sitting under a small tree sheltering from the hot sun. As the sun moved, we moved, until finally facing the entrance to the show ground.
“Oh, look,” said Micky, “do look. There is Jerry Miller; he’s just walked in through the gates!”
I think this is enough for now, but there must be hundreds of you out there who have had similar fun, flukes, coincidences, or extra-sensory moments—call it what you will. Do add your comments.
Posted February 16, 2021
Well, Diedre, since you ask for more, I'll start. I could well have been walking through that gate right beside Jerry Miller that day; I traveled with him to the Peterborough Show several times as his guest. Did you happen to see a skinny, bald-headed guy with Jerry? Oh, that right, I would have been wearing the de riguer straw Panama. -Ed.
A Gloriously Fine Hunting Day
By Epp Wilson
On December 14, 2020, members of the Belle Meade Hunt (GA) enjoyed their best hunting day of the season—up to that point! Master and huntsman Epp Wilson has allowed Foxhunting Life to publish an account of the day’s sport from his informal, after-hunt notes. For the benefit of our readers who love to better understand how the top huntsmen of our times produce sport with hounds, Epp has expanded on a few of the Belle Meade methods and protocols that may surprise some traditionalists. Your editor has only to say, however, that the proof is in the pudding, and that he knows of no other hunt that draws more enthusiastic hunting visitors, year after year, from hunts all across North America, than does Belle Meade.
Master and huntsman Epp Wilson and Belle Meade's Midland Maiden 2013.
We met at 3 PM from the kennels. Fifty-six degrees: good. Dew point 46 degrees: not so good. Wind from the west at 7 mph: good. Game table* was low at 14 percent average for the day: not good.
Even worse, we were hunting during the lull, after a minor in the game table activity. That told us we would probably have to wake up the quarry and get it moving. The quarry wouldn’t be out foraging and leaving a line for hounds to find easily. No worries. The game table gives us useful information. Simply adjust strategy and hunt. “You don’t know until you go,” Bill Smith always said.
We had a slow start. After drawing blank for over an hour, Maiden (fresh out of the hot pen) found what we think was a grey fox near Five-Points. It was run/walk, hot and cold, boo-hooing for several minutes.
Nearby, at Quaker Road and Kenny Palmer’s Bridge Road, whipper-in Barbara Lee’s horse was startled by...and turned suddenly toward...something Barbara didn’t see. A moment later Dahlia came by speaking on the line. Barbara called it in, knowing Dahlia to be honest and assuming it had been a coyote. That earlier run/walk line had fizzled out, and we harked toward Barbara’s view.
The pack hit the line well before we got to Barbara. It was the same line, the same coyote. The pack went screaming by Barbara on the exact line Dahlia had taken.
Either the scenting had improved or the coyote was putting off more scent than the previous critter. Or both. Didn’t matter. We were off and running. Hounds were in full cry. This is what we saddle up for, folks. This is also why I like to hunt a Thoroughbred or TB cross. They have a higher likelihood of keeping up with hounds and being there at the end. My good TB gelding, Stoli, was on cruise control. Fit and ready, he loves a good gallop.
Fort Wrightsboro Trail, big tree down, “Traffic Reverse!” Back to the clear cut behind Victoria’s, Gloria Palmer’s, Wendi’s Bridge, Bullfrog Pond, left across the newly timbered and more open “Forty Acres.” The Coyote was viewed across Foxboro driveway by the first pasture, headed toward Ridge Road, our northern territory limit today due to deer season. Hounds were struggling with the line at this point. “All road whips to Ridge Road, please,” rang out on the radio.
We could hear the distinctive rumble of Laura hauling butt toward Ridge Road. (Laura’s truck rumbling, not Laura). Dang, she is a great road whip. We actually paused and waited a few moments for the road whips to get nearer to Ridge Road before harking hounds forward to the view on Foxboro driveway. Ridge Road is so curvy that it is difficult to keep hounds from crossing because of the limited visibility in either direction. If the coyote got any closer to Ridge Road, we would have the road whips blow their truck horns to try to keep him from crossing. Hounds were screaming once again as we passed the Hunt Box owned by Bull Run MFH, Rosie Campbell and her husband Chris Allen.
Several of the field are dropping out now. This run was fast and furious.
On toward Ridge Road, then thankfully turning left in Jon McCorkle’s place and running parallel to Ridge Road toward Wrightsboro Church. Miles of good country straight ahead now At the big Culvert on Vinnie Williams Road, hounds turned straight toward Ridge again. Whippers-in Dick and Erin and Nicole apparently turned him back. Well done Much better to keep the run going by turning the quarry than
to let him cross and have to stop hounds. They turned toward Wrightsboro Church again, then left again through the Goat Pasture. Master Gary, Dr. Jim Moncrief, and Lee Ann Carson viewed him across Foxboro driveway. On across Wrightsboro (Middle) Creek toward Hickman’s, Chastise Hill, Miles Tutt House, New York Meadow, Turner South Coop. Across Hawes Hill Road just north of Cattle Pens, left, looping back across Hawes Hill Road toward Big Buck.
“Sounds like they are going toward Charles Montgomery’s Crossing,” rang out on the radio. Road whip Robbi Gilmore confirmed the direction and landmark. Robbi is a GPS tracking collar whiz. And she has the advantage of knowing the country like the back of her hand, having whipped-in on horseback for many years. Timely information from the trackers helps all the staff keep flying along. And even more important, in the right direction. Trying to get a large field to hold hard and be quiet enough for us to hear hounds can take valuable moments and leave us behind. The timely input from Robbi and the other trackers helps us stay with the pack and better able to keep them out of harm’s way. The pack is looping back right now across the top of Hawes Hill toward the Boy Scout Cabin.
“East Flank. Please stop hounds if they get to Maddocks Creek. We don’t want them to go to US 78 Highway.”
“Good idea,” Barbara replied. She and Anna were east flank.
“Hold Hard, Field!” We almost overran the line at the Gravel Pile. The pack had made a hard right turn and came flying by. Horses getting tired, including my Stoli, and glad for a moment to catch a few breaths. Most of the field had dropped back or turned for home. For a while it was only Judith, Jean, and Chris Defilipis still with me. Three Thoroughbreds and one TB cross.
Flying now down the main road to Glenn’s Rocky Crossing. Straight up the main trail to the clear cut. Hounds checked a moment in the clear cut. Because they were so close to Maddocks Creek, this offered probably our best opportunity to try to stop them and call them up. A handful of hounds found the line again, however, and kept going. Nothing to do but let the rest of them go and do what we bred and trained them to do.
Thank goodness this coyote turned right and followed the creek past December and November Crossings. Then back southwesterly to Robbi’s Crossing, then more westerly and straight through the Kudzu Woods, Twin Coops, up the valley toward Dewberry Crossing.
“Y’all stop them if they try to cross Stagecoach Road.” We had miles of great country ahead, but it was nearing dark and we were out of horsepower. This was the best opportunity to stop them.
The pack turned more westerly toward Champagne Hill. Whipper-in Dick Dozier wisely asked if I was ready to stop them. He added that he had some other whips there, letting me know (with a minimum of words—important in radio transmissions) that he had enough of the cavalry there to get all hounds stopped.
“Yes! Y’all stop them!” Which Dick did, by the book. He jumped off his horse, ran toward the hounds, and blew his horn, communicating to hounds in two ways—off his horse and using the horn—that it was time to stop.
We rode up a moment later. Dick was on foot, still blowing the horn to bring up stragglers and loving on the hounds he had—telling them they were brilliant, which they were. Erin and Terry and Nicole were there in their usual roles as whips, stopping hounds and keeping the pack contained. Of course, Paisley and brother Pilgrim didn’t stop. She kept on until road whip Tyler jumped out of Laura’s truck and literally tackled her (Paisley, not Laura) on the shoulder of Wrightsboro Road. Well done, Tyler
Roll call at Champagne Hill: all on except for Pilgrim and Bismark, the latter having given out just before the run ended. Pilgrim slipped by and went on to Lake Lawrence, still running the line of the coyote. He was caught a few minutes later and put into the truck near the Puppy Crossing. The coyote had circled back into the main country again. All on by the time we hacked back to the kennel.
Not only was it a Rough Rider Run—having lasted for the qualifying forty minutes or more—it was sixty-five minutes in all. The longest run of the season so far. And right in the best country. Plenty of trails so that we could stay well up with hounds.
And speaking of hounds, Midland Maiden 2013 (see lead photo), drafted to Belle Meade by our friends at the Midland Fox Hounds (GA), was the outstanding hound in her work this day. We have welcomed many Midland drafts over the years, and Maiden is one of the very best of them. Suffice to say that Maiden and her kennel mates at Belle Meade are another story for another time. [That story is scheduled for our next issue. –Ed.]
Well Done, Team. Thank You, Lord, for another wonderful day in Your Most Wondrous Cathedral.
Epp’s Skull Session
Old, stale lines
Often on days that start slow, if we can trail around on something for a while, even if the scent is too old or stale for hounds to turn it into a run, that activity and noise often stirs up the woods and gets other critters moving.
My point: Don’t disparage a few minutes spent boo-booing around on a cold line. Even if you are convinced that it is too cold to ever turn into a real run, be patient with hounds and staff. Let the process play out. Sometimes hounds can work a line like that and get closer and closer to the quarry where the scent is fresher and fresher. Then we get the run we were after.
Just as often, in my experience, these boo-booing few minutes stir up the woods and we end up running a fresh line of a different critter. And we get our good run that way.
Letting hounds work a line like that also teaches the young ones a work ethic and improves their skills. If all they’re allowed to do is hit a fresh line of a coyote each time, they don’t learn how to persevere and stick with a weak line until it gets better.
Even when a newly-entered puppy runs a deer for a minute or two before he can be stopped, that can get the real quarry up and moving. I certainly don’t advocate letting any hound run a deer. But we often find a good coyote right after we stop an errant puppy. And running the correct scent very soon thereafter provides another learning experience for the puppy.
Lose a Shoe? You Can Still Be Useful.
Whipper-in Terry Cooper’s horse lost a front shoe early in yesterday’s run. Terry let us know that he was not able to keep up, so that another whip could take his flank. Some people would have gone on in. Instead, Terry simply floated along as best he could at a walk and a trot, and hounds that got separated from the pack came right back to him twice. The second time he was right there to help Dick and the others get a good clean stop of the whole pack (except for the two hard-headed hounds that slipped by). Dick might not have gotten a good clean stop had Terry not been there.
My point: as a whipper-in, never give up. Unless your horse is injured, stay out there and float along as best you can. Most of the coyotes circle.
On Stopping Hounds
Hounds need something/someone to go to when being asked to stop. If all the whippers-in are hollering and cracking whips, and hounds have no one to go to, they are much less likely to stop. They need a haven.
Our Standard Operating Procedure in stopping hounds when the huntsman isn’t there is for one whip of the pair (more on that below) to dismounts and acts as huntsman—a haven—and blows the horn to call hounds to him. The other(s) remain mounted and whip-in as usual, try to stop hounds with minimal necessary force. No guns unless hounds are in danger of crossing a major road like US 78 or the interstate.
Whippers-in Ride in Pairs
Stopping hounds is one reason for whippers-in to work in pairs. It is nearly impossible to stop our hounds with only one whip and no one to act as huntsman. If a whip is the only whip around and needs to stop hounds, it is fine to get someone from the field—any field member of any field—to get off their horse and act as huntsman. Of course, it is best if it is someone the hounds know and like. When it comes to hound safety, deputize the entire field if necessary.
Another reason for whips riding in pairs is, of course, for their own safety. All Belle Meade whips are honorary, and at the end of the day need to get home safely to their families.
Posted February 21, 2021
* A Game table, also known as a Solunar table, is a calendar for sportsmen and anglers that seeks to predict the best times for experiencing wildlife activity for each day of the year, based on the times of sunrise, sunset, and tides.
Major Charles Kindersley and the Modern English Foxhound
By Denya Massey Clarke with Lynne Kindersley Dole
Hunting Days of Yore
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 the location and direction of hounds by radio for their safety. What does this have to do with the late Major Kindersley, MFH of Ontario's Eglinton and Caledon Hunt? Only that one of the coops very often in the middle of the hunting action at Belle Meade is named “Major Kindersley’s Coop,” and virtually everyone who has hunted at Belle Meade is familiar with the name. But what do many of today's younger foxhunters know of the man? Here's the Major's story.
Charles Kindersley was born in Dorset, England, in 1900, and grew up with the traditional family pony in the South Dorset hunting country. When World War I broke out, the nearby army camp had to give up its beagle pack. The hounds were rescued by the local vet who, after seeing Charles’ interest, let him hunt the pack. This bit of experience would turn out to be highly valuable to the future Eglinton Hunt in Ontario, Canada.
Becoming of age during that war, Charles served a short time as a pilot in the Royal Flying Corps. After the war Charles went out to the Canadian West where he worked on a ranch, an open-faced coal mine, and for a polo player in British Columbia. On his way back to England he stopped for a job interview with the CEO of Imperial Oil in Canada. After Charles told him about his experience out West, Mr. Smith asked to see his hands. Seeing all the calluses, Mr. Smith promptly hired him. Mr. Smith later told Kindersley that he had only agreed to see him as a favour to an acquaintance!
Back in England, Kindersley met Chrissie Crawford at a Hunt Ball held at the house of A. Henry Higginson, the American Master of Foxhounds who had taken over the Cattistock Hounds (UK). Chriss, riding sidesaddle, and her father, Colonel James Crawford, hunted regularly with the Cattistock. Kindersley’s job took him to oil interests in Colombia, but letters traveled back and forth, even when Chriss went to visit friends in India. Upon learning that Chriss was returning to England, Charles also went back to England and took the pilot boat out to meet the liner coming in! Needless to say, her parents were extremely surprised when they went to meet the liner in Southampton to see both these two waving from the deck. When the pair approached Cattistock Master, the well-known Parson Milne, to marry them, Milne was heard to mutter, “I hope that there will be a frost on that day,” meaning that it would not be a good scenting day for hounds!
The Reverend E.A. "Parson" Milne, MFH, Cattistock Foxhounds (UK)
After Colombia, Charles was sent to the International Petroleum refinery in Peru. He continued his interest in horses by setting up stables. His daughter Lynne remembers long rides on the beaches and inland over the dry, sandy countryside. Her father also started polo, the teams travelling to Lima for competitions. When the British Navy docked at Talara, horses were provided so that the crew could play polo. Lynne’s brother, Richard, was christened on the H.M.C. York when it made a stop at the Talara harbour. There were no hounds but paper chases provided some fun.
Moving to Canada in 1939, war soon broke out and Kindersley joined up with the Royal Canadian Engineers, shortly thereafter going overseas. His family settled in London, Ontario, for the duration. “But,” said his daughter, “fate interfered when my grandfather in England suffered a bad stroke, and my mother went over to help look after him. Once there, she could not come back to Canada because of wartime restrictions. She stayed in England, separated from her children for more than three years, throughout the remainder of the War. My brother Richard and I remained with friends in London [Ontario].”
“Travel was extremely haphazard and unpredictable at the end of the war with the military still commandeering any ocean-worthy vessels to get the forces home. My father was invalided back to Canada through Halifax and then by train to London, Ontario. My mother, with grit and determination, finally secured passage on the Queen Mary to New York City, taking a train from there to St. Thomas, Ontario. The most amazing thing was that they arrived in London, Ontario, within twenty-four hours of each other. You can imagine the reunion after such a long separation,” Lynne said.
By 1947 Kindersley’s back injury had greatly improved. The family moved to Toronto, and he became a member of Eglinton Hunt shortly before huntsman Terry Morton broke his leg so badly. After a short interval, Kindersley took over the job of hunting hounds. During the War, Eglinton Hunt had had to reduce the pack to a very few hounds which hunted drag only.
One of the first things to do was to obtain a draft of hounds from another pack. He was always grateful to Mrs. Nancy Hannum, MFH of Mr. Stewart’s Cheshire Foxhounds (PA) and to Mrs. Gilbert Humphrey of the Chagrin Valley Hunt (OH), each responding with generous drafts which made it possible to change from drag hunting to live hunting. Masters of Foxhounds have always been generous and ready to help other packs, especially in cases of disaster as when distemper hits a kennel. When this happened to the Eglinton Hunt, Toronto and North York was one of the hunts who kindly sent some hounds.
Kindersley, known as ‘The Major,’ continued to breed English hounds, obtaining fresh blood by importing dog hounds from some of the well-known English packs. In later years two hounds in particular passed on their good qualities: Portman Petrarch and Tipperary Grossman.
Canadian Hound Show: (l-r) unknown; Lynne Kindersley Dole; Captain Ronnie Wallace, judge; Major Charles Kindersley, MFH
After World War II, the famous foxhunter and father of the Modern English foxhound, Ikey Bell, introduced some Welsh blood into the heavier, traditionally-bred English hound. Captain Ronnie Wallace, MFH, and huntsman of the Heythrop and later of the Exmoor Foxhounds (UK), followed Bell’s lead in streamlining the old fashioned, chesty, heavy English hound. Wallace produced slimmer and faster hounds with better conformation, gaining a worldwide reputation for showing some of the best sport. Other breeders soon followed, producing what is now referred to the Modern English Foxound. Captain Wallace, by the way, also began his hunting career by hunting a pack of beagles as a boy.
The Major, who had a keen eye for both horses and hounds, recognized the benefits of the Modern English Foxhound and began to breed accordingly. At that time there were hound shows in the United States, like Bryn Mawr, but not in Canada. The Major thought that Canadian packs might also benefit their breeding programs by showing hounds. Under his initiative, in 1954, the Sportsmen’s Dog Show agreed to include classes for the English foxhound for a couple of years, after which the different hunts took turns in putting on the yearly foxhound show independently. Masters from England and the States were asked to judge hounds, one judge from each country, a tradition continued today. Over the years the classes expanded to include both English and Crossbred Foxhounds, as Canadian packs started to include American, Fell, and Penn-Marydel bloodlines.
The Major said that the best recommendation to be given a foxhound is that it has a good nose, stays on the line, runs with the pack instead of going off on its own, and heeds the huntsman’s voice and horn. In order to do this the hounds need stamina and good conformation. The Major would look for a sloping shoulder, deep chest, long neck to stoop for the scent, well let down hindquarters, and firm, but not splayed, feet, with weight evenly distributed.
During his forty-two years as Master, the Major was blessed with many excellent Joint-Masters: Mrs. C. Churchill Mann, Lieutenant-Colonel G. Alan Burton, Brigadier F.C. Wallace (who occasionally hunted hounds when the Major was unable to do so), Lieutenant-Colonel George M. Brown, Gustav Schickedanz, and H. Charles Armstrong. After twenty-one years as huntsman, the Major handed over the horn to professional huntsmen, but continued as Master until 1991.
Major Charles M. Kindersley (1900–1993) was inducted into the Huntsmen’s Room at the Museum of Hounds and Hunting in 2003. The Museum’s tribute refers to the Major as a “wise and witty man with a great sense of humor; an outstanding soldier, hound breeder, and foxhound judge; a teacher who shared his profound knowledge of foxhounds and pedigrees with anyone who asked.” The Major passed on this enthusiasm to his daughter, Lynne Kindersley Dole, who hunted with Eglinton and Caledon, and the Blue Ridge Hunt (VA) for many years.
Re-posted February 21, 2021
Denya Massey Clarke and Lynne Kindersley Dole live in Ontario. Denya, a lifelong foxhunter, is the daughter of the late Stewart Treviranus, a member of the Canadian Three-Day Team, who competed in the 1952 Olympic Games in Helsinki. She is also the step-daughter of the late author/sportsman Alexander Mackay-Smith, MFH. Lynne Kindersley Dole was the first librarian of the National Sporting Library, co-founded in 1954 by Alexander Mackay-Smith in Middleburg, Virginia. A similar article was originally published in Hark! magazine by the Toronto and North York Hunt.
Charlie and Donald Swan
By Dickie Power
A 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.”
The racing world abounds with father and son combinations: Ted and Ruby Walsh and Tommy and Paul Carberry spring to mind, but up with the best and better has to be Donald and Charlie Swan. While Charlie has a remarkable story to tell, Donald’s story is the far more colourful. He must be counted among the last of the great Corinthians—these young men, often from an army background, who would take up riding point-to-points and national hunt races before going on to becoming Masters of Foxhounds. Donald ticks all those boxes and more.
Born in Lincolnshire, UK, on leaving Gordonstoun as a second choice, Donald joined the army. His first choice was a career on the stage but his father, with some difficulty (and wisdom), persuaded him to take up a commission in the army. He luckily missed all major wars so was able to become a sporting officer: hunting, point-to-pointing, and racing under the rules.
With army retirement imminent, his father advised him to buy a place in Ireland. Donald found Modreeny in Cloughjordan, a substantial property which ran to two hundred acres. Having bought it, he couldn’t close the transaction as there was an embargo on non-nationals buying land in the Republic of Ireland. Fortuitous fertility rescued the situation, however. Donald and Theresa were expecting their second child, who chose to be born in Dublin, and all nationality problems were solved.
Donald and his mother, Nina Swan, out with the Ormond at Cloughjordan on a St. Stephen’s Day meet
On arrival in Cloughjordan, Donald naturally threw himself into the hunting world with the local Ormond foxhounds. Huntsman Arthur Dalgety was approaching the end of his tether, passing on all too suddenly in 1972 without having nominated a suitable replacement. After an emergency committee meeting, Donald sportingly offered to take over. At least until someone else could be found. Donald’s appointment heralded a golden era in the annals of the Ormond, and almost twenty years later he was still in office with hounds kenneled at home at Modreeny (where hounds are kenneled to this day). Donald hunted hounds with distinction for more than ten seasons until George Younghusband joined the Mastership, and professional huntsman Pat Lynch took the horn.
Donald competing in the Members Race at the Ormond Foxhounds Point-to-Point
It wasn’t all hunting by any means. As well as producing a top-class pack of hounds, Donald and Theresa were increasing their family to include Natasha, Melissa, and Charlie. Racing was also high on the agenda. Donald had the useful chaser, Zimulator (by Narrator), who took him far beyond the confines of the North Riding. Zimulator qualified for the 1975 renewal of the Aintree Grand National by winning the Ingolsby Chase in Punchestown (owner up). In those proper days before health and safety along with its stablemate, public liability, took control, sporting owner-jockeys could compete in the world’s greatest race. The 1975 Aintree renewal had a particularly Irish feel to it. It was won by Tommy Carberry on the second favourite, L’Escargot, beating Red Rum into second. The gallant Captain Donald Swan finished fourth on the home produced Zimulator. He carried ten stone at the very generous odds of a hundred-to-one. This bet wasn’t widely taken up outside the bookies office in Nenagh. The contest was watched avidly at home in Modreeny by young Charlie, then age seven, and we can only guess how the experience influenced his future career. Fifth was Ron Barry on The Dickler, and other Irish jockeys out of the money included Ted Walsh and Tommy Stack.
It must be more than coincidence that three of those Grand National jockeys went on to produce sons who became Champion Jockeys in their own right: Ruby, Paul, and, of course, Charlie, who was the first Irish jockey to beat Martin Molony’s historic tally. Zimulator’s National career was far from over. Donald took him on to Oslo to run in the Norwegian Grand National. While they had a sporting run they didn’t return with any silverware.
Young Charlie Swan on his pony, Lightening, hunting with the Ormond Foxhounds
But there was always hunting. Donald records a particular red-letter day from a meet at Ardcroney. Hounds found and ran six or seven miles without a check as far as Lough Derg at Terryglass. Young Charlie, then around ten years of age, was out on the 13.2-hand Lightening. Sadly, in the excitement of the run, the young jockey had been forgotten. As hounds marked to ground, Donald turned to whipper-in Martin Totley asking him to go back and find young Charlie, only to have it pointed out that Charlie and Lightening were standing right behind him
But it is said that Donald’s first love has always been the stage, and he became a key member of the Nenagh Dramatic Society along with his fellow thespian John Riggs-Miller. John brought with him an aura of professionalism as he had toured with the famous Anew McMaster players who brought Shakespearian productions to rural Ireland. Donald’s performance as Professor Higgins to John’s Colonel Pickering in My Fair Lady are still spoken of with awe in the salons of North Tipperary.
All the while, young Charlie was growing up and pony racing with some success. But even budding jockeys have to go school, so Charlie was packed off to Wilson’s Hospital boarding school in Multyfarnam, Co Westmeath. It would be fair to say that his scholastic career was not an outstanding success, but the tedium of irregular Latin verbs was lightened by riding out at Jimmy Tormey’s racing yard nearby.
What Charlie really wanted was to go racing. As this life-changing career choice was being discussed, Donald decided to give the aspiring jockey a couple of rides. At Naas on March 19, 1983, Donald put young Charlie up on the unraced two-year-old, Final Assault. The bookmakers who couldn’t have known they were looking at a future champion, freely offered 20-1, which was liberally taken up by Donald and his friends. Charlie didn’t let them down and won in a canter by six lengths. Beaten next time out, he went on to win on Sessetta, that combination winning again in Limerick ten days later. This gave the debutante jockey a fifty percent hit rate with three wins out of six rides. It was probably these early successes that convinced the Mondreely stewards to allow Charlie to say goodbye to Wilson’s Hospital and become an apprentice at Kevin Prendergast’s.
The other apprentice turned out to be Kieran Fallon who hadn’t yet ridden a winner. Charlie takes up the story.
Istabraq, three-time Champion Hurdler, Charlie Swan up.
“Kieran and I always got on well, and I shared a house with him for a time. From a young age my role models were Lester Piggott and Michael Kinane on the flat and John Francome and Richard Dunwoody over jumps. The horse that probably put me on the map was a horse called Ash Creek, trained by Paddy Mullins. I rode a lot of winners for Paddy and Maureen Mullins whom I admired greatly.
“Without doubt, Istabraq winning his third champion hurdle gave me the most pleasure in my career. He was a true athlete. Winning a two-mile champion chase at Cheltenham on Viking Flagship for the late David Nicholson was also a huge thrill.”
No doubt Istabraq was the high point of Charlie’s career. It was also about then that romance came into his life. Carol Hyde of Camas Park was a highly useful jockey herself with thirteen winners under the rules as well as eventing at Four-Star level.
“I rode against so many great jockeys— Richard Dunwoody, Tony McCoy, Tommy Carmody, Ruby Walsh, Norman Williamson (my brother in law ), Barry Geraghty, Paul Carberry, but the best without doubt was Ruby.”
Ted Walsh was forthcoming as always. “There was no one like Charlie to read a race. Down at the start he would size up the opposition and watch the body language of the other jockeys. He rarely got it wrong.”
Back to Charlie. “An embarrassing moment at age seventeen or eighteen. I was riding at the Curragh. Jumping out of the stalls, the poppers went on my britches. After a furlong I could feel them getting lower and lower and as I frantically tried to pull them up, all I could hear was Joanna Morgan whistling from behind me and Christy Roche shouting to just leave them alone and ride on. I finished third, but it was very embarrassing.
“It wasn’t hard to keep motivated when you are riding lots of winners. But I got to the stage when if I got into the car without having ridden a winner, I would have been in very bad form ”
Charlie was twice leading jockey in Cheltenham, ’92 and ’93. After his first success as leading jockey, Cloughjordan decided to recognize the victory. A special “Cheltenham Pub Crawl” was organised with Charlie being transported from tavern to tavern by pony and trap. The celebration is said to have started at the Clough Inn and ending at the Railway Bar, finishing with a suitable(non-alcoholic) presentation in St Kieran’s Church of Ireland Hall.
He was champion jockey no less than nine times. He won his first championship in 1989/90 and retained the title until his retirement in the 1997/98 season. He holds the Irish record for the most winners in a season and the most in a calendar year.
“I had a great career and was incredibly lucky to ride for JP McManus and Aidan O’Brien for whom I have great admiration. They were a huge help to me. I also rode for a lot of other very good trainers such as Dessie Hughes, Noel Meade, Edward O’Grady, Mouse Morris, Arthur Moore, John Kiely, Willie Mullins, Tony Mullins, John Hayden, Enda Bolger and so many more.”
Charlie was the first to break Martin Molony’s record for Irish winners, a record that had stood since Martin was forced into retirement in 1951 at age 26, and for whom he has the utmost regard.
“Martin Moloney was a phenomenal rider of his time, and breaking his record of the number of winners ridden in a season was obviously a great boost. I think it was 112. My best season was 150 winners in Ireland and twelve in England. For Martin it was obviously a lot tougher to ride so many winners with less racing and travel not so easy.
“Training I loved, but the recession hit our business hard and with builders going out of the game it just was not feasible any longer. So after very tough decisions we stopped in 2015. Modreeny keeps us terribly busy and is a super farm for rearing young stock. We had been trading all along and will continue doing so. When Covid does not get in the way I travel to France for racing and sales sourcing horses for JP McManus.”
Modreeny now has swapped residents, with Charlie, Carol and family in the main house and Donald and Theresa having taken up residence in Charlie’s former bungalow.
“The house is getting quieter with Harry away and Olivia in boarding school. David works in Dublin and Max, twelve, keeps us busy with his sports. Harry, who won a team bronze medal at Eventing Europeans in 2018, is enjoying his amateur riding and is now reading Biological and Biomedical Science in Trinity. Olivia loves her Eventing and had great success riding for Ireland at European Championships 2019, finishing thirteenth individually. She’s now studying for exams.”
Tipperary trainer Edward O’Grady has the last word. “Charlie is an absolute gentleman, either on or off a horse. He rode a lot of winners for me, but his best day must have been Cheltenham ’94 when he had a treble. He started off by winning the Sun Alliance on ‘The Peoples Champion’ Danoli before having a double for me on Time for A Run and finishing a perfect day by winning the bumper on Mucklemeg.”
I asked Edward how Charlie got so many winners. “It’s simple. He was just the best.”
Posted February 8, 2021
This article was first published in The Irish Field.