This Week in...
Dartmoor and Doyle
A bonus article for those practicing social distancing and finding more reading time on their hands. (pg. 2)
Who Is This Horseman?
The first reader to identify this famous individual will win a free year’s subscription to Foxhunting Life. (pg. 3)
You Might Be a Foxhunter If… by J. Harris Anderson
Starting with Jeff Foxworthy’s “You Might Be A Redneck” jokes, the author now tells how to recognize the foxhunters among us. (pg. 3)
Orchestra Leader Resumes Winning Habits at Warrenton by Norman Fine
Featuring the incomparable race photography of Eclipse Award winner, Douglas Lees. (pg. 7)
Keeping Score in the Hunt Field by Judith Wilson
The author humorously analyzes the causes of her six falls over the past hunting season. (pg. 13)
...Norm Fine’s Blog
Ruminating on all the scheduled events in our lives that are now cancelled or postponed. (pg. 18)
Dartmoor and Doyle
From Foxhunting Life archives, now that we all have more reading time on our hands, here is this issue’s Bonus Article to fatten the content for our subscribers and to open more articles, previously restricted, to our non-paying registrants. We were reminded of Sir Arthure Conan Doyle's poem since we've been talking about Dartmoor in recent issues.
Janet Ladner photo
Photographer Janet Ladner was out following the Mid-Devon Foxhounds when she came across these wild ponies taking shelter from the snow. I have hunted on Dartmoor, in England’s West Country, and found it to be a fascinating landscape of bleakness and beauty, with visible reminders of cultures that serially take one back in time all the way to prehistory. While hunting, one comes across ditches left by tin mining activity that began in pre-Roman times and continued to the twentieth century, evidence of farm tillage going back to the Bronze age in the parallel rows running across the slopes, and standing stones erected in prehistoric times. During quiet moments when hounds check, one can allow the imagination to soar.
For me, Dartmoor also conjures memories of cold winter boyhood days at home, reading the spooky mystery, Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle. It was the third of his Sherlock Holmes novels to be published, and this Dartmoor mystery filled my young head with delicious terror.
By coincidence, Janet Ladner’s photos of the ponies on Dartmoor arrived just as writer/editor Steve Price sent me this foxhunting poem, written by Arthur Conan Doyle. A confluence of Dartmoor and Doyle. Who knew he wrote such poetry?
A HUNTING MORNING
by Arthur Conan Doyle (1859-1930)
Put the saddle on the mare,
For the wet winds blow;
There's winter in the air,
And autumn all below.
For the red leaves are flying
And the red bracken dying,
And the red fox lying
Where the oziers grow.
Put the bridle on the mare,
For my blood runs chill;
And my heart, it is there,
On the heather-tufted hill,
With the gray skies o'er us,
And the long-drawn chorus
Of a running pack before us
From the find to the kill.
Then lead round the mare,
For it's time that we began,
And away with thought and care,
Save to live and be a man,
While the keen air is blowing,
And the huntsman holloing,
And the black mare going
As the black mare can.
"A Hunting Morning" is reprinted from Songs of Action, A. Conan Doyle, London, John Murray, 1916.
Posted March 6, 2017
Who Is This Horseman?
Horseman on a US Cavalry mount at Fort Riley, Texas
The earliest time-stamped email from the reader who correctly identifies the horseman in the image will receive a year’s Combination Electronic/PDF Subscription free of charge. If the winner curently has an unexpired active subscription, the free year will be added to the end of the current term.
Posted March 27, 2020
You Might Be a Foxhunter If…
By J. Harris Anderson
It’s been said that a “highbrow” is someone who can listen to Rossini’s "William Tell Overture" and not think of the Lone Ranger. In the hunting world, that might be said of anyone who’s never heard of Jeff Foxworthy’s “You Might Be A Redneck” jokes. Leader of the Blue Collar Comedy genre, Foxworthy’s shtick consists of such gems as:
If you can recognize your friends by the sound of their mufflers, you might be a redneck.
John Anderson, writer/editor/foxhunter / Douglas Lees photo
If your school fight song was “Dueling Banjos, …”
If you’ve ever cut your grass and found a car, …”
If you refer to the sixth grade as “My senior year, …”
Borrowing from this concept, herewith are a few examples of “You Might Be A Foxhunter.” (Some of these apply to horse people more broadly, but all of them apply to foxhunters.) So here we go.
If you’ve ever mucked out a stall while wearing a tuxedo or an evening gown, you might be a foxhunter.
If you’ve ever peed in a stall while wearing a tuxedo or an evening gown, ...
If you have your orthopedist’s private number on speed dial, ...
If you can legally claim your vet as a dependent on your income tax forms, ...
If you’ve ever been charged with riding while intoxicated, ...
If you own a thermometer with a piece of baling twine tied to it, ...
If you drive a $5,000 car and ride a $20,000 horse…who is hauled in a $15,000 trailer pulled by a $50,000 truck, ...
If the only religious service you regularly attend is Blessing of the Hounds, ...
If you think it makes perfect sense to you that a dinner-style meal served in late afternoon is referred to as breakfast, ...
If your sporting attire is all custom made and the rest of your wardrobe comes from Tractor Supply, ...
If you can recite the bloodlines of every hound in your club’s kennels but frequently forget the names of your own children, ...
If your barn is the picture of order and neatness while your house hasn’t had a thorough cleaning since the Johnson Administration…the Andrew Johnson Administration, ...
If your collection of baseball caps ranges from “trail clearing” to “formal” depending on the amount of sweat stains, ...
If directions to your home include, “Turn off the paved road,” …
If you’ve ever been involved in a custody dispute over a horse or hound, ...
If your ability to polish a pair of boots would impress a Marine drill sergeant, ...
If your horses, dogs, and cats all have human names and your children don’t, ...
If you think shift-on-the-fly 4-wheel drive is for sissies, ...
If you’re only willing to accept a job that allows you to take off at least one weekday from September through March, ...
If a windstorm takes down a tree on your property and your first thought is, “How can this be turned into a schooling jump? ” ...
If you consider Monday to be a day of rest from the rigors of the weekend (or Tuesday if you hunt on Mondays), ...
If you can open a bottle of wine using a car key, ...
If you have amassed such an extensive collection of flask concoctions that you could earn a handsome living as a bartender, ...
If you consider a suitable combination for a tailgate table to be Girl Scout cookies and moonshine, ...
If you’ve ever tried to change lanes on the highway by making your car leg-yield, ...
If you’ve ever watched a vet place a hundred thousand-dollar piece of diagnostic equipment on top of a ten-dollar muck bucket, ...
If you’ve ever told a paramedic, “If you even think about cutting off my custom-made boots, I will get up off this stretcher and kick your ass,” you might be a foxhunter!
Posted March 26, 2020
J. Harris Anderson is a member of Thornton Hill Hounds (VA), and is the author of The Prophet of Paradise, a foxhunting novel, and the Foxhunter’s Guide to Life and Love, an inspirational novel. He is also the managing editor of In & Around Horse Country in which a variation of “You Might Be a Foxhunter” previously appeared. Click for more about John.
Orchestra Leader Resumes Winning Habits at Warrenton
By Norman Fine
Open Hurdle Race: (l-r) Praeceps (Alex Leventhal up) 4th; Orchestra Leader (Mell Boucher up) 1st; Noah And The Ark (Eddie Keating up) 2nd / Douglas Lees photo
Eleven-year-old Orchestra Leader, a grandson of Seattle Slew on the distaff side, has been winning Open Hurdle races for at least five years. Owned in his earlier racing days by the late Bruce Smart and trained by Jimmy Day, the brown gelding now races for Team Ollie, is trained by Lilith Boucher, and was ridden to the wire by Mell Boucher at the Warrenton Point-to-Point on Saturday, March 14, 2020. Orchestra Leader was the Leading Hurdle Horse in 2018 and won this same race over the same Airlie racecourse last year.
Open Timber winner Just Wait And See with Chris Gracie up / Douglas Lees photo
In the Open Timber race, Kinross Farm’s Just Wait and See, Chris Gracie up, won impressively for trainer Richard Valentine, despite a slow start. The eleven-year-old Irish-bred dark brown gelding was the Open Timber winner at Old Dominion last year.
Novice Timber: (l-r) Swellelegant (Graham Watters up); Great Road (Eric Poretz up and over) 2nd; Second Amendment (Skylar McKenna up) 1st / Douglas Lees photo
The Open Hurdle and Open Timber races fielded four horse each, as did the Ladies Side Saddle race, but the remaining races on Warrenton’s ten-race card started fields of seven to twelve horses each, which should be encouraging for the industry and fans of jump racing. Two of the day’s winners, Second Amendment in the Novice Timber and Gun Lobby in the Side Saddle race appeared to be making their own political statements.
Last year’s Leading Trainer, Jonathan Sheppard, saddled three winners of the eleven races run. The Maiden Hurdle race was split into two divisions of eleven horses each, and Sheppard-bred, -owned, and -trained horses won both with Gerard Galligan in the irons. In the first division of the Maiden Hurdle, Sheppard’s Brevard Place finished strongly, coming from off the pace and winning by three lengths. In the second division, his Penitence rallied and won handily.
Amateur/Novice Rider Hurdle: (l-r) #11 The Holy One (Archie Macauley up) 4th; Be Somebody (Sophie Henelius up) 1st; Classical Art (Teddy Davies up) 3rd / Douglas Lees photo
Be Somebody, trained by Doug Fout, ruined Sheppard’s chance of a fourth win on the day. Jockey Sophie Henelius took Be Somebody to the lead in the final quarter of the Amateur/Novice Rider Hurdle race and hit the wire three lengths ahead of Sheppard’s entry, Konstantinova.
Side Saddle Race: Julie Nafe on her Gun Lobby leading in the stretch and winning / Douglas Lees photo
The Side Saddle race, always a crowd pleaser, was won by Gun Lobby, owned, trained, and ridden by Julie Nafe. The six-year-old mare took the lead on the backside and was never challenged.
Novice Rider Flat: Ricky Hendriks celebrates with Sara Gartland aboard winner Drapers Guild. / Douglas Lees photo
In the Novice Rider Flat race, Drapers Guild took over the field of twelve in the first quarter mile, and won by a length-and-a-half in a hand ride. Drapers Guild is owned by Rosbrian Farm and trained by Ricky Hendriks.
Virginia Bred, Sired or Certified Flat: (l-r) Vincent Van Gogo (Graham Watters up) 2nd; Curve Of Stones (Gerard Galligan up) 1st / Douglas Lees photo
In the tenth and final race of the day, the Virginia Bred Flat, Gerard Galligan earned his third trip to the winner’s circle, this time with David Bourke trained Curve of Stones. Owned by S. Rebecca Shepherd, the dapple gray gelding bred at Audley Farm in Berryville rallied in the final quarter mile, ran second to Vincent Van Gogo in the stretch, challenged, and won by a head at the wire.
Click for complete results of all races.
Posted March 24, 2020
Keeping Score in the Hunt Field
By Judith Wilson
Judith on Parker, the Perfect
With the close of the recent hunting season, I’m feeling the need for some deep reflection since I fell six times. That’s right—six times—this season! Read on, as I evaluate each fall and its root cause.
Fall # 1: I was behind Ken Trogden when he and his horse, Moseby, took a bad jump over the coop into Gentlemen’s Hill. Ken hit the ground on landing and broke his wrist. My horse, Parker, and I were landing after jumping the coop just as Ken hit the ground and his air vest deployed. Parker spun at the sight and sound. I almost stuck it but, in the end, had to bail. When I ask myself how this ride went, I can hear Barbara Lee, one of my riding instructors, in my head, “You were following too close!” Okay. Mea Culpa.
Judith on Tucker / Allison Howell photo
Fall # 2: My horse, Tucker, and I were jumping the middle coop in the fence line between the Puppy Pond and the BRK house, when Tucker paused mid-lift. Rather than push off with his back feet, he seemed to just drag them forward, into the coop. His mid-air pause rocked me forward slightly, and the abrupt halt from his hind feet crashing into the coop sent me forward over his shoulder and tumbling to the ground on the landing side of the coop. Tucker had to struggle a bit to get his back feet disentangled from the gaping holes he made in the base of the coop. He then kicked them over to join his front end and me on the landing side, at which point I examined him and found only minor scratches. I remounted and, with my friend Kayleigh Wilcher’s encouragement, took some easy coops next to make sure Tucker was alright. He was, so we rejoined the field and finished the hunt.
Kayleigh and others who witnessed our crash were as lost as I was for an explanation. One speculated that shadows confused Tucker. I’ve got nothing else, so I’ll go with that.
HORSE-0 RIDER-1 SHADOWS-1
Judith on Hobbes
Fall #3: I was hilltopping on my beloved Hobbes this day. Field Master Leonard Loudermilk stopped the group at the Gentleman’s Hill gate to wait for a road whip to open it for us to cross Stagecoach Road. Saundra Maxwell, car following that day, came along directly to open the gate. None of us, most especially Saundra and Hobbes, were aware that the gate was actually off the top hinge. Saundra had the gate open about one-quarter of the way when the top tilted inward and the gate fell to the earth, pulling poor Saundra down with it! As Saundra face-planted on top of the gate (ouch!), Hobbes spun and lunged as quick as a cat, leaving me mid-air. Eyewitness accounts from Ray Walters and Master Gary Wilkes describe my fall like this: I hung in mid-air briefly, just like Wile E. Coyote beyond a cliff’s edge, eyes blinking (“doink” “doink”) in confusion, then plummeted downward with legs spread-eagle skyward, into a fluffy patch of tall grass. They gave me a “10” and I gave Master Charlie Lewis another $20 cropper fee. Who’s to blame is a mystery to me.
HORSE-0 RIDER-1 SHADOWS-1 WHOEVER LEFT THE GATE OFF ITS HINGE-1
Fall #4: It was Hobbes’ turn in the rotation on this fateful day. Fairly early in the hunt we crossed a deep, V-shaped gully with boggy, slick mud on both sides, causing horses to slide down in and have to scramble out. Hobbes lunged up the far side then threw a huge buck when he reached the top. The lurch put me off balance, and the buck sent me careening—WHAM! My bell was rung.
Hobbes had never bucked like that before. I always expect him to do his little “rocking horse” bucks with the first gallop of a ride, but I had no reason to expect a bronco stunt like that! I had him checked out shortly thereafter and determined that pain in his withers was probably the reason why he bucked. So then I had his saddle checked. Saddle checked out fine but it was determined I was riding him in a half pad that was too small, thus creating pressure on his withers. So this fall was either a tack issue, or rider error for not knowing about said tack issue. I think I’ve suffered enough, so I’m going to blame this fall on the tack!
HORSE-0 RIDER-1 SHADOWS-1 WHOEVER LEFT THE GATE OFF ITS HINGE-1 TACK-1
Fall #5: My mare, Parker, is perfect. And by “perfect,” I mean she only has two flaws, which is as close to perfect as any horse can get. I mean, no horse has zero flaws, right? Parker’s flaws are 1) yanking the reins out of my hands and 2) she hates anything in her face. Parker will dodge to avoid branches, flying dirt, swishing tails, and anything of the sort that she views as a risk to her beautiful face. She is the easiest ride, except for the occasional dodging, and I generally know when to expect it and ride accordingly.
This fall happened when we were trotting up a trail in the vicinity of Deacon’s Coop and had to duck under some cedar limbs. I leaned down next to Parker’s neck. All she had to do was duck her head just a little bit and we both would have been clear of the limbs...but she didn’t. Instead, she stopped and spun away from the tree leaving me, once again, dangling mid-air like Wile E. Coyote, before dropping to the ground below. Ground riddled with cedar roots, by the way. So whose fault was this one? Well, it can’t be Parker’s fault, because she’s perfect, so I’m going to have to blame it on the low limbs.
HORSE-0 RIDER-1 SHADOWS-1 WHOEVER LEFT THE GATE OFF ITS HINGE-1 TACK-1 TREE LIMBS-1
Judith on Flyer with Epp Wilson, MFH / Allison Howell photo
Fall #6: I took ten days off between fall #4 and fall #5, because fall #4 gave me a concussion, a minor detail I failed to mention earlier. Fall #5 actually occurred during my first time back after said concussion...UGH! Fall #6 happened during my second time out after the concussion. Three consecutive rides with falls...double...no, triple UGH! This time I was on Flyer and, even though he’s a wonderful jumper, I rode with the hilltoppers in an effort to save myself from further injury. The chase took us out of the jumping country, so Master and huntsman (and husband) Epp Wilson invited me to ride up with him. I love riding in his pocket, so of course I accepted.
We came out of the woods in the vicinity of the Old Red Barn and turned left onto the firebreak road around the clear cut beyond Quaker Cemetery. We were galloping after hounds and came upon a tree that had fallen across the firebreak road. It was a dead cedar, with naked branches giving the obstacle substantial height and depth. Epp’s Trebajo sailed over it beautifully. My brain, perhaps still operating at less than full capacity due to the concussion, was looking for a way around. Flyer, however, had other plans, and absolutely rocketed up and over that tree, taking both a long and high line, steeplechase style. It happened so fast, or my brain was moving so slowly, or maybe both, that I got left behind. It was another Wile E. Coyote moment for me, and I’m putting this one on Epp. Ha ha! Just kidding.
HORSE-0 RIDER-2 SHADOWS-1 WHOEVER LEFT THE GATE OFF ITS HINGE-1 TACK-1 TREE LIMBS-1
I guess the adage, “It’s never the horse’s fault,” is true!
Posted March 23, 2020
Norm Fine's Blog
What are you missing out on by cancelled events, and how are your horses helping to keep you occupied now that we are engaged in the newly-minted but necessary practise of social distancing? If you have such a story, share it with Foxhunting Life.
Over the next couple of months I was scheduled for book talks and signings at five libraries and at one of the oldest country clubs in the U.S. Of course, that schedule has gone by the boards along with your own schedules.
I have been publishing Foxhunting Life from my home office from the start, and can certainly continue to do so. Since publication of my new book, Blind Bombing: How Microwave Radar Brought the Allies to D-Day and Victory in Europe, just last December, I have also been giving talks and signing books at museums, libraries, bookstores, and cultural centers. I spoke to a large, knowledgeable, and engaged audience in Georgia at the National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force with a ninety-six year old B-17 WWII pilot sitting in the front row. That was a thrill!
I do believe strongly in the programs recently instituted by governments, both national and local. It all has to do with slowing down the rate of infections from an exponential rise with which our health infrastructure is unable to cope, to a level and hopefully soon a diminishing rate with which we can cope. Certainly these are uncharted waters for all living Americans and affecting everyone equally.
So in the meantime, although I won’t be seeing you at any talks or book signing venues for a while, please know that Blind Bombing: How Microwave Radar Brought the Allies to D-Day is available from:
• The University of Nebraska Press at a forty percent discount using code 6AF19;
• Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and other online sellers and bookstores;
• me, with the option to specify to whom the book shall be inscribed;
• or if you don’t care to purchase on a website, send me an email or call.
Blind Bombing has received highly favorable notices, among them a Pulitzer Prize-winning writer/historian, editor of the American Aviation Historical Society, a senior foreign service officer, and editor of an Ivy League magazine. Click to see what they say.
To those who have read Blind Bombing or plan to: if you enjoy the book, please do me a huge favor by giving it a rating and a short review—even just two sentences—on Amazon, Good Reads, or Barnes and Noble. Those reviews are important, and I will be immensely grateful to you.
Finally, I wish all who read Foxhunting Life—from new subscribers to all the old faithfuls and longtime friends—good health and a safe passage through this tunnel of uncertainty.
Posted March 20, 2020