This Week in...
Horses, Hounds, and Wishes: the Poems of William Ogilvie by Erica Libhart
A short biography of Will Ogilvie, foxhunting’s favorite poet, and a sampler of 3 of his published works. (pg. 2)
Time Goes By by Cree Lause
A hard-hunting grandmother slows down to introduce her 5-year-old granddaughter to the hunting field; 2 years later she must rediscover her mojo to keep up. (pg. 5)
The Foxhunter Who Became Britain’s Leading Conservative Thinker
Remembering Sir Roger Scruton, who wrote: “My life divides into three parts. In the first I was wretched; in the second ill at ease; in the third hunting.” (pg. 7)
North Kerry Harriers at Glin Castle by Dickie Power
Elegant ladies riding aside, a castle harking back to Strongbow, and a field of accomplished sportsmen and women, in text and photos. (pg. 9)
...Photo of the Week
A snow-covered foxhunter’s expression of utter satisfaction after a wintry snowfall brightens the drabness of the frost-killed fields and bare trees. (pg. 16)
Horses, Hounds, and Wishes: the Poems of William Ogilvie
By Erica Libhart
Will Ogilvie in 1901. Kerry & Co. of Sydney, from the collection of The State Library of Queensland / Wikimedia Commons. Many sportsmen have been inspired by country life to put brush to canvas. So too have many whose talents have a more literary cast. The canon of fiction, prose, verse, and song generated by the lovers of country sports and the lifestyle in which they are set fill many shelves at the National Sporting Library & Museum. The poems and songs of William H. Ogilvie are among them.
William (or more commonly, Will) Ogilvie was born into a large family based in the Scottish border town of Kelso during the summer of 1869. He was educated at Kelso High School before attending Fettes College in Edinburgh where he was a good athlete, participating in rugby and running, and an excellent student, winning a prize for Latin verse.
Will Ogilvie around 1937 / Wikimedia CommonsAt the age of twenty, Will emigrated to Australia. He arrived with a letter of introduction to Robert Scott’s family which eventually landed him the first of a series of jobs at sheep stations. Friends of the Scotts needed help on their ranch called Belalie located in New South Wales. Here Will mastered the skills of drover, station hand, horseman, and horse breaker. Here he also began to record his experiences in poems. His love of the Australian bush country, horses, dogs, and fair ladies, forms the subject of his ballads. He published most of his work in newspapers and periodicals and gradually became recognized as one of the great bush poets of Australia.
After twelve years in Australia, Will returned to Scotland. He would continue to create poems featuring horses, riding, and country life throughout his long life. Many of his works would be printed in magazines such as Punch and The Spectator in England, as well as The Bulletin in Australia. In addition, there were numerous collections of his work published. Below I’ve shared three of his poems. I especially enjoy the nostalgic mood of “The Huntsman’s Horse.”
The Huntsman’s Horse
by Will Ogilvie
The galloping seasons have slackened his pace,
And stone wall and timber have battered his knees
It is many a year since he gave up his place
To live out his life in comparative ease.
No more does he stand with his scarlet and white
Like a statue of marble girth deep in the gorse;
No more does he carry the Horn of Delight
That called us to follow the huntsman’s old horse.
How many will pass him and not understand,
As he trots down the road going cramped in his stride,
That he once set the pace to the best in the land
Ere they tightened his curb for a lady to ride!
When the music begins and a right one’s away,
When hoof-strokes are thudding like drums on the ground,
The old spirit wakes in the worn-looking grey
And the pride of his youth comes to life at a bound.
He leans on the bit and he lays to his speed,
To the winds of the open his stiffness he throws,
And if spirit were all he’d be up with the lead
Where the horse that supplants him so easily goes.
No double can daunt him, no ditch can deceive,
No bank can beguile him to set a foot wrong,
But the years that have passed him no power can retrieve —
To the swift is their swiftness, their strength to the strong!
To the best of us all comes a day and a day
When the pace of the leaders shall leave us forlorn,
So we’ll give him a cheer – the old galloping grey –
As he labours along to the lure of the Horn.
From Scattered Scarlet (1923). The gift of John H. and Martha Daniels.
The White Hound
by Will Ogilvie
The white hound runs at the head of the pack,
And mute as a mouse is he,
And never a note he flings us back
While the others voice their glee.
With nose to the ground he holds his line
Be it over the plough or grass;
He sets a pace for the twenty-nine
And won’t let one of them pass.
The white hound comes from a home in Wales,
Where they like them pale in hue
And can pick them up when the daylight fails
And the first gold stars look through.
They can see them running on dark hill-sides
If they speak to the scent or no,
And the snow-white hounds are welcome guides
Where the wild Welsh foxes go.
The white hound runs with our dappled pack
Far out behind him strung;
He shows the way to the tan-and-black
But he never throws his tongue.
At times he leads by a hundred yards,
But he’s always sure and sound;
All packs, of course, have their picture cards,
And ours is the old white hound.
The Master says he is far too fast
For our stout, determined strain,
And the huntsman curses him – ‘D—n and blast
He’s away by himself again!’
But the Field is glad when it sees him there,
For we know when a fox is found
The pace will be hot and the riding rare
In the track of the old white hound.
From The Collected Sporting Verse of Will H. Ogilvie (1932). The gift of Edmund S. Twining III.
by Will Ogilvie
O, Fame is a fading story
And gold a glitter of lies,
But speed is an endless glory
And health is a lasting prize;
And the swing of a blood horse striding
On turf elastic and sound
Is joy secure and abiding
And kingship sceptered and crowned.
So give me the brave wind blowing,
The open fields and free,
The tide of the scarlet flowing,
And a good horse under me;
And give me that best of bounties:
A gleam of November sun,
The far-spread English counties,
And a stout red fox to run.
From A Handful of Leather (1928). The gift of John H. and Martha Daniels.
The Library holds many of Ogilvie’s books as well as those of numerous other sporting poets in our Main Reading Room. Consider dropping by and spending an afternoon exploring them!
Posted January 13, 2020
Erica Libhart has served as the Mars Technical Services Librarian at the National Sporting Library & Museum (NSLM) since early 2016. The focus of her position is collection services, working to increase accessibility to NSLM’s collection of books, periodicals, and archival materials. The NSLM collections span over 350 years of the history of equestrian sport, as well as fly fishing, wing shooting, and other field sports. Have a question? Contact Erica by e-mail.
Time Goes By
By Cree Lause
First “hunt,” age 5, riding a mini borrowed from the Dozier clan for Belle Meade’s annual beagle hunt.Time...where does it go? How could I have accumulated so many memories in such a short time? It seems like only yesterday that I was hunting with pure abandon, escaping from the realities of life, and enjoying nothing but the thrill of running wildly through the woods, listening to the cry of the hounds, feeling the cold air rushing past my ears, and at the end of the day relishing the after effects of the adrenalin rush. I had been hunting for about fifteen years or so.
Then, over the past few years (has it been six already?) there was a gradual change in life and attitude. Time passed, and with it some of the reckless abandon was replaced by a more conservative respect for staying in the saddle and on top of the horse. This was brought on by the responsibility I incurred when I decided that bringing my granddaughter, Alayna, into the hunt would be a good idea.
Instantly, my focus shifted from unbridled escape to that of assuring my charge was safe and sound at the end of a hunting day. I became aware that trotting at a strong pace was a lot more challenging when you were watching out for a young rider bouncing around in the saddle. Also, she let me know it was fast enough.
Again, time passed, and the young rider began to gain skill and confidence. Trotting at any pace was no longer exciting enough. Now, cantering at a good pace was fast enough. By then, I had become comfortable with a trot and had to up my game. She was riding a mare I thought would be too much for her, and doing so with confidence. I was now struggling with a young horse and a young rider! Where I had become complacent with the steady trotting and occasional run, she was starting to itch for that reckless abandon which had once filled my soul! Was I getting rusty...or old?
First Junior Day hunt, age 7, riding Copper, her new hunter. (On Junior Day, all the old scarlet coats are pulled from the closets of the community and draped over the juniors for the photos!)More time passed, and this time more quickly. Alayna had developed into a more daring soul after two seasons hunting, minimally after the first season and more notably during the second. The off season came and we lost the mare she had become so comfortable riding. She had to pursue her riding on a new mount—the young horse I had been working with for the past two years. But she was ready and willing, stating in a matter-of-fact tone that she wanted to hunt, so she would learn to manage the horse. So, with guidance, coaching, and encouragement, she was on her way. By the middle of the off-season she was yelling to me to “Come on, Nana! We have to jump!” And, off she went to lead me over the coops!
Yes, time goes by quickly. It still seems like it was just a short time ago that my granddaughter was only five years old and going on her first bunny hunt. She spent that whole day giggling—a combination of fear and glee—every time the pony trotted. I knew she was hooked then. Now she is eleven years old and giggling as she canters over fields and fences, having made new friends and having become part of the family of foxhunters she was introduced to only a short six years ago.
Author and granddaughter out for a casual summer trail rideHere’s hoping for more time. I need it to reawaken that reckless abandon I once had. (Maybe somewhat less reckless at this point.) Now, the tables have turned, and the little girl who I was supporting is now supporting me. Though she is by no means grown up, she is on that path. And I am happy to say that it is a good path, with good people, and good experiences to continue to share along the way.
Posted January 14, 2020
The author is a member of the Belle Meade Hunt (GA).
The Foxhunter Who Became Britain’s Leading Conservative Thinker
By Norman Fine
Sir Roger Scruton, conservative thinker, teacher, foxhunter, author, and advisor to the British government, died of cancer at age seventy-five on January 12, 2020. He wrote more than fifty books on aesthetics, morality, politics, and even on foxhunting.
In that well-received book On Hunting (1998), Scruton’s opening sentence goes like this:
“My life divides into three parts. In the first I was wretched; in the second ill at ease; in the third hunting.”
Scruton goes on to explain that foxhunters join together with their most ancient friends among the animals—hounds and horses—to pursue an ancient enemy—the fox. His book is a plea for tolerance towards a sport in which the love of animals prevails over the pursuit of them, and in which Nature herself is the center of the drama.
On Hunting brings the author’s philosophical best to his love for the sport and all it entails from terror to ecstasy. As expressed by one reviewer, “He begins with hunting but he ends with a moving romance with nature itself. In this regard, hunting is but a window into his soul and the limits of human nature. I have read all of his books and this one ranks among the best.”
Despite Scruton’s passion for foxhunting he managed to turn his mind to the writing of more than thirty books on other subjects, including Art and Imagination (1974), The Meaning of Conservatism (1980), Sexual Desire (1986), The Philosopher on Dover Beach (1990), The Aesthetics of Music (1997), Beauty (2009), How to Think Seriously About the Planet: The Case for an Environmental Conservatism (2012), Our Church (2012), and How to Be a Conservative (2014).
He also wrote novels, textbooks on philosophy and culture, and composed two operas. Scruton was an aesthete with much to say about many subjects that reside at our deepest core and make us human.
He was a lecturer and college professor for more than twenty years. In 1982, he helped found The Salisbury Review, a conservative political journal, which he edited for eighteen years. He was a member of the editorial board of the British Journal of Aesthetics, and was a Senior Fellow of the Ethics and Public Policy Center.
During the Cold War, Scruton was involved in the establishment of underground universities and academic networks in Soviet-controlled Central Europe and received numerous awards for his activities from those countries after they finally gained their freedom from Soviet domination. He received the Order of Merit from Hungary's right-wing nationalist prime minister, Viktor Orban, who described Scruton as an "ardent and active ally" of anti-communism in central and eastern Europe. He visited dissidents in Communist Czechoslovakia, smuggling in books, offering courses in suppressed subjects, and supporting banned artists. In 1985 he was detained then expelled from the country. After the fall of Communism there, Vaclav Havel, the dissident-turned-president, awarded Sir Roger the Medal of Merit.
He has been called "the man who, more than any other, has defined what conservatism is" by British MEP Daniel Hannan, and "England’s most accomplished conservative since Edmund Burke" by The Weekly Standard.
Upon Scruton’s passing, Boris Johnson led the tributes, calling him the country's "greatest modern conservative thinker," while Chancellor Sajid Javid said "he made a unique contribution to public life."
It was while visiting his first wife, Danielle Laffitte, during the May 1968 student protests in France that Scruton first embraced conservatism. He was in the Latin Quarter in Paris, watching students overturn cars, smash windows and tear up cobblestones.
“What I saw was an unruly mob of self-indulgent middle-class hooligans. When I asked my friends what they wanted, what were they trying to achieve, all I got back was this ludicrous Marxist gobbledegook. I was disgusted by it, and thought there must be a way back to the defence of western civilization against these things. That's when I became a conservative. I knew I wanted to conserve things rather than pull them down.”
He became a founding member of the Conservative Philosophy Group, which was intended to provide an intellectual basis for the Conservative Party to regain power in Britain. Newly elected Tory leader Margaret Thatcher attended the group.
From 1992 to 1995 he lived in Boston, Massachusetts, teaching an elementary philosophy course and a graduate course on the philosophy of music at Boston University. Two of his books grew out of these courses: Modern Philosophy: An Introduction and Survey (1994) and The Aesthetics of Music (1997). While in Boston, Scruton flew back to England every weekend to indulge his passion for fox hunting. It was during a meet of the Beaufort Hunt that he met Sophie Jeffreys, an architectural historian. They married in 1996, set up home on Sundey Hill Farm, and their two children were born in 1998 and 2000.
As a result of controversies which arose in his life and the passage of the Hunting Act of 2004 that banned foxhunting with hounds, Scruton and his family considered for a time moving to the United States permanently. In 2004 they purchased Montpelier, an eighteenth-century plantation house near Sperryville, Virginia. They used both homes for a period, but decided in 2009 against a permanent move to the U.S.
Scruton is survived by his wife Sophie and children Sam and Lucy.
Posted January 14, 2020
North Kerry Harriers at Glin Castle
By Dickie Power
Annual meeting of the North Kerry Harriers at Glin Castle / Catherine Power photo
It has become something of a Christmas tradition for Catherine and me to visit the North Kerry Harriers at their invitation meet at Glin Castle in those days between Christmas and the New Year. This season the day fell on Sunday, December 29, 2019, and the keen, hard working hunt secretary, Shannon O’Mahony, was in overdrive. My computer and phone were in danger of collapse such was the volume of texts, emails, and What’s Apps describing the glory of Glin Castle and especially a sidesaddle day the hunt had organised.
Sure enough on arrival the large square was jam-packed with horse boxes and trailers of all classes and descriptions. The picturesque village is just on the Kerry border and about an hour’s drive from Limerick. As always the focal point is O’Shaughnessy’s Pub, strategically located near the main gate to the castle and it’s demesne. Locally, the pub is better known as “The Captain’s,” a name that harks back to a previous seafaring owner. Tradition has it that when the captain came ashore he set up a huge salmon exporting business from Glin to the Billingsgate fish market. In those halcyon days, salmon could be taken by the ton from the estuary which can be seen from the front door of the pub.
Sharon Burke, Alice Copithorne, and Ella Geary on the way to the castle. / Catherine Power photo
The Captain’s was buzzing with jockeys of all descriptions, including a flock of very elegant sidesaddle ladies. All the regulars were on hand: Master and huntsman David Trant having a final council of war with whipper-in Fergal Sheridan, a veterinary surgeon in the local Livestock Development Office. Dr. Sheridan started his hunting career in his native Cavan with the Ballymacad before venturing to north Kerry. He assured me that the national herd was being well cared for even on hunting days! His fellow whipper-in is young Rachel Martin from Ballylongford who is studying for her Leaving Cert this year. A more knowledgeable or enthusiastic hunt staff member would be hard to find. She hopes to be doing Veterinary by this time next year.
Best friends Daniel King and the O'Connor brothers, Tom, and Denis, failing somehow to match the elegance of the ladies. / Catherine Power photo
From Dingle came Brendan O’Connor with a load of ponies for his three children—Tom, Denis, and Eibhilin with Young Daniel King thrown in for good measure. All are keen young riders who had driven more than two hours to today’s meet.
Hunt chairman Mike O’Sullivan looked very smart in his green livery. His son Denis has now been hunting the Ormond foxhounds for more than ten seasons. Joint-Field Masters were Noels Stack and Mike Mangan, whose son Jerry is a point-to-point jockey. Potters Corner, who only recently won the Welsh National run at Chepstow, was produced by the O’Sullivan Family.
The sidesaddle day was the brain child of hunt secretary Shannon O’Mahony, a psychiatric nurse in Listowel. As well as her nursing and hunting duties she is currently studying for her master’s degree. She looked especially smart in her sidesaddle habit, riding a very attractive coloured cob owned by Jeremiah O’Connor. Also riding aside were were Soracha Meehan, a final-year radiographer from Pallaskenry who was out with her mum, Anne; Rose Concannon from Kerry was joined by Emma Geary; and Alice Copithorne from Kinsale.
Sharon Burke neatly over a rough spot on her competent-looking field hunter / Catherine Power photo
Sharon Burke, who just recovered from a serious pelvic injury, was riding sidesaddle. From Clare came Susanne Arthur on a fine grey, accompanied by her dad, Jim, both of whom I meet regularly with the County Clares. Also from the Banner county were Soracha Redmond from Ennis and Grainne Davoren who was adjudged the leading lady rider and was presented with a smashing hamper.
Suzanne Arthur having a cut at it on her lovely grey / Catherine Power photo
Another member of the caring profession is Emily Vial, beautifully turned out in a blue habit. She informed me ruefully that she had had only an hour’s sleep as she had been working as a paramedic the previous night Originally from Donegal, she has remained loyal to the accent but in every other way is fully assimilated into the kingdom.
As the angelus bell tolled the hour, hounds were un-larged and jockeys (all sixty of them) mounted. Huntsman David Trant blew “moving off” on a coaching horn borrowed for the occasion from the bar, while hounds and the field were led on a tour of the village with many locals standing at their doors and applauding as hounds passed.
Our next stop was the castle itself where hunt staff and field were refreshed with hot port and such provided by castle manager Clare Whyte from Clonmel. The castle was the ancestral home of the Knights of Glin , a title that goes back to the arrival of the Normans around 1169 when Strongbow landed in Bannow bay. The late and last knight was Desmond Fitzgerald the twenty-ninth holder of the office. His daughter Catherine and her husband Dominick West now own the estate. The castle can be rented for special occasions and regularly hosts weddings and such. A recent resident was the American singer Taylor Swift who stayed for a couple of weeks with her entourage.
As well as the sixty or so mounted, there was a huge turnout of foot followers, of which many had made the trip specially to see hounds, the sidesaddles, and especially the castle in a way that would not be normally possible. Of course there was a photo call for hounds and field outside of the castle, joined by huntsman David Trant on a smashing grey with his two daughters, Eabha, twelve, and Molly, all of ten. Both girls go to school locally at Dromclough National school. David and his brother run a very substantial purebred dairy herd at their farm near Listowel where hounds are also kennelled.
Formalities over, David with nine and a half couple of home bred hounds, moved off to the first draw which was literally in sight of the castle. The estate which is run as a commercial dairy farm has loads of covert, mostly old woodland of native species.
While the first covert was drawn blank, as hounds drew on a whimper was heard which quickly turned into a crescendo. The estate is well served with hunt jumps and natural fences. Under the direction of our guide Peter O’Mahony (Shannon’s dad) we were kept well up with the action. With hounds running, the field came at a good lick over a series of hunt jumps. The sidesaddle girls were not found wanting but palm must go the veteran Anne O’Grady on a four-year-old who came down the line of fences at hurdle race speed. Not surprisingly, Anne is the niece of Martin and Tim Molony, the all time greats as national hunt jockeys.
Washing off at day's end in the convenient estuary of the Shannon River / Catherine Power photo
The field had marvellous fun all day with loads of jumping and scenery to die for. Completing a perfect day riders all walked their horses into the endless estuary of the Shannon River to wash off the sweat and mud in water just up to their saddles, emerging spotless.
But the day was not quite over. Food and a singsong with resident sheanachai Tom Moore from Moyvane—with tales of fine maidens and feats of valour, sounding like a review of the day—provided a fine finish!
Posted January 12,2020
This article previously appeared in The Irish Field and is republished with permission.
North Kerry Harriers:
Chairman and Master: Michael O'Sullivan
Secretary: Shannon O’Mahony
Point-to-point secretary: Bernadette Hanrahan
Huntsman: David Trant
Whipper-in: Fergal Sheridan, Rachel Martin
Field Master: Jeremiah O’Connor, Noel Stack, Mike Mangan
History: Formed by a group of hunting farmers from North Kerry in 2002 to promote sport of hunting. Members also involved in point-to-point, hunt chase, team chase, and charity rides.
By Norman Fine
Photo of the Week
Selfie by hard riding Jenny Irwin, who rarely misses a day’s sport.
A winter storm blanketed the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia on a hunting day for the Blue Ridge Hunt. The gently falling snow quietly covered the drabness of the frost-killed rolling fields and bare trees. It also produced rosy cheeks and a soft, white covering upon those hardy souls who embraced the temporary beauty of a wintry day in the woods and fields.
Posted January 26, 2020