Category Archive 'Foxhounds'
14 Dec 2011

Yesterday Around Noon

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We had visitors.

We weren’t hunting ourselves, but the Old Dominion Hunt was meeting nearby and they put one to ground at our place, very near the house. I managed to trap my own dogs in the house, grabbed a camera, and went out and took a few snapshots.


Old Dominion huntsman Gerald Keal sounds his horn to reassemble the pack after Charles James has gone to ground in our woods yesterday. click on picture for larger image. Picture will enlarge again with one more click.


Congratulating the Old Dominion Hounds on a job well done.


Huntsman, pack, and whip begin moving off west.


The field follows Gerald and the hounds off into the woods. To the west, you see Fogg Mountain and the Blue Ridge.

31 Oct 2011

In the Latest Virginia Sportsman

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(click on image twice for larger versions)

I make serious efforts to bar my wife from publishing photographs of me at sporting events and in the hunting field, but for some unaccountable reason I do feel a sense of gratification when I find myself accidentally present in a photograph of that kind of event published elsewhere completely independently.

I was, therefore, tickled to find, in the latest Virginia Sportsman, a feature article on last Spring’s Virginia Hound Show, which shows me sitting and leaning on my cane while watching professional huntsman Dennis Downing putting a couple of our own Blue Ridge foxhounds through their paces in the English ring. (My face is hidden behind the elbow of a photographer snapping a picture.)

28 May 2011

Attending Virginia Foxhound Show

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Blogging will be late to non-existent on Sunday. We’ll be attending the Virginia Foxhound Show at Morven Park all day.

last year’s show

22 Jan 2011

Not Far Behind

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Image 82 of Karen L. Myers’s photo essay on the Blue Ridge Hunt’s meet last Monday at Locust Hill (photo: Karen L. Myers)

Last Monday was cold, and this fox must have been reluctant to move from his comfortable hiding spot among the cedars at Federal Hill. He waited until the hounds were nearly on top of him before leaving, producing this photo by Karen including the head of the lead hound.

He ran right up the hill past the ancient manor house, crossed the road in the direction of Farnley, then circled back through Cedarwood back into Federal Hill where he went to ground in a tremendous sink hole, partially covered with a variety of large stones and other debris, presumably to keep the cattle from falling in.

One of the knowledgeable old timers told me that foxes tend to head for that particular sinkhole only when they are unusually hard pressed. I thought this fox was pretty close to getting caught, and we were all glad to see such a handsome fellow get away.

08 Dec 2010

Last Saturday’s Moment of Comedy

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photo 1, click on picture for larger image

Ham biscuits and stirrup cups of port are common offerings at hunt meets in Virginia.

Last Saturday, at a meet attended by international hunt photographer Jim Meads held at The Pines in Boyce, Virginia, the Blue Ridge Hounds suddenly recognized that all the people had left the porch, carrying drinks and biscuits on silver trays to offer to hunt members mounted on horseback.

In photo 1, Whip Ross Salter and retired Huntsman Chris Howells simultaneously grasp that enterprising hounds are about to win big.

In photo 2 (below), the Blue Ridge staff leaps into action to save the biscuits.

In George Washington’s diaries, there is an account of the occasion in which that earlier Virginian’s foxhounds discovered the holiday dinner ham momentarily unattended and successfully appropriated it, leaving Washington and his guests to make do with only the side dishes.


photo 2, click on picture for larger image

19 Oct 2010

The Huntsman and the Model

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Martyn and Connor look dressed for business as usual, but I have no idea what the lady is dressed to do.

To our great amusement, we yesterday through the hunting grapevine received a link to a fashion spread in a luxe magazine called Weddings Unveiled, in which one of our local friends here in Virginia, Martyn Blackmore, professional huntsman for the Loudoun Hunt West, accompanied by Connor, his Spotted Draft hunter, and foxhound pack, got to serve as part of the background for the modeling shoot.

The setting was Morven Park, once home to Virginia Governor (1918-1922) Westmoreland Davis. Now owned by a foundation, the estate hosts an array of equestrian and country activities, including the annual Virginia Foxhound Show.


The model has cleverly placed her hands in such a way as to reduce the likelihood of pawprints on her lovely white dress.

19 Sep 2010

Cubbing This Morning with Thornton Hill

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click on photo for larger image

The Thornton Hill Hounds (largely Penn Marydel Crossbreds) wait eagerly to be released from their trailer.

29 Aug 2010

2010 Cubbing Begins

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Hunting during fox hunting’s annual preseason consists of cubbing.

Before the regular hunting season begins in October or November, the new entry of hounds is taken out and introduced to hunting, and the same year’s crop of young foxes is introduced to being pursued by hounds.

Training young hounds to hunt properly is a delicate business and by convention hunt membership normally carries no automatic invitation to come out cubbing. Cubbing traditionally is strictly by special invitation of the Master, as inexperienced riders or unreliable horses can represent a serious hazard to inexperienced hounds or create distractions and impair their training.

So confident are the Masters of the Blue Ridge Hunt, however, of professional huntsman Dennis Downing’s management of his pack that cubbing is treated informally. Everyone is notified of cubbing meets and everyone is invited to attend.

During cubbing, traditional hunt uniforms are not worn. The correct attire, referred to as Ratcatcher, consists of non-formal hunting boots, a tweed coat, and a collared shirt and necktie. This summer was exceptionally warm, so even though starting early in the morning, the Blue Ridge field yesterday was prepared for warm weather, eschewing even Ratcatcher jacket and tie in favor of polo shirts.

Yesterday morning at 7:00 A.M., the Blue Ridge Hunt conducted its first cubbing of the year from kennels.


Staff and experienced members of the field stand guard on Kennel Road to keep any young hounds from crossing and going astray. (Click on photo for larger image)


Whipping in in the morning mist.


Huntsman Dennis Downing, accompanied by Whips Ross Salter and Sue Downing, brings the pack down the road in astonishingly good order.

Karen’s photo essay.

13 Jun 2010

Old Dominion Kennels

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photo: Karen L. Myers

Yesterday we attended the afternoon open house at the Old Dominion Hounds kennels in Orlean, Virginia (right around the corner from our new home in Hume).

The puppies were very cute. Karen took photos.

31 May 2010

Read During the Virginia Hound Show

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This was the weekend of the Virginia Hound Show. I realized yesterday that, beyond the pleasure of watching fox hounds in the ring, at no other kind of venue could one routinely overhear so many distinctively amusing conversations.

The book I carried along to read while waiting for my wife, A Long Way to Go by Marigold Armitage, daughter of Air Chief Marshall Arthur Harris echoed the live scene around me. Though the novel’s setting is Ireland not Virginia, the topic under discussion and the sense of humor was very much the same.

And who was-out?” asked Aunt Emmy.

We were all gathering round Conor like well-trained hawks to a lure. The hold that fox hunting has over its disciples it as frightening as it is fascinating. Conor would tell us that Paddy Casey had been trying to sell his grey horse and the lad had given it a crucifying fall over wire; that the puppy Aunt Emmy had walked was still inclined to babble; that they had gone away very fast from Killanure and several people had been left; that Mike Harrington’s English horse had flown a stone-faced bank—”the sight went from my eyes to see the lep he made”; that hounds had split on a fresh fox, but Tommy had managed to stop them; that Euphemia Coke had jumped a “hell of a big, dirty drain like Becher’s Brook” on her four-year-old by Tartan; and on these words we would hang, wide-eyed, like children learning about Father Christmas. I had often tried to analyse this fearful fascination; to work out for myself exactly what the black magic consists of, and I had come to the conclusion that it must because fox hunting provides, mentally and physically, the perfect form of escapism, the perfect reaction from the dreary twentieth-century myth of Progress and the perfectibility 0f man. To begin with, even before one has got on one’s horse, there is the dressing-up in traditional clothes—and anybody who does not enjoy dressing up is fit only for treasons, stratagems and spoils—and not really even for those since he will not enjoy being in disguise. Then, I do not believe that M. Sartre himself could deny the romance implicit in the sight and sound of galloping horses, and the power and glory of being a part of this speed and strength and, if one is lucky, in control of it—this rare sensation might have even seduced Oscar Wilde if he had once tried it—might indeed, yet, seduce a Sitwell. Add to this that ancient, incalculable, irresistible lure, the spice of authentic danger, and you have the perfect, the complete, sweet, oblivious antidote, which will for the space of forty-five minutes from Kilquin Gorse raze out the written troubles of the brain as if they had been written on a slate and a damp sponge had been passed across them.

“In this the patient must minister to himself,” and a psychiatrist prescribing three days’ hunting a week would, I am sure, have the very greatest success. For no one— not if he has drunk too much the night before; not if he has lain awake with a mind reeling restively amongst the Metaphysics of Donne, the philosophy of Seneca, and the psychology of Jung—only to find at 2 a.m. that Soneryl has the laugh on them all; not if he has woken groaning, Suspecting cancer of the liver and hating the sight of his boots; not even he will fail to be healed by the splendid immediacy of the moment when the little black horse (grabbing cunningly at his bit in the hope of getting his head free enough to buck on the far side) faces the stone-faced bank which Mike Harrington’s horse has just flown with such superb disregard of the law of gravity—whilst behind, advancing in a crescendo of bounds and snorting like a steam engine, Euphemia Coke’s four-year-old is showing unmistakable signs that if you and the little black horse do not jump both quickly and cleanly there is every possibility that you and the little black horse will yourselves be jumped upon, heavily and hideously, by Euphemia Coke and her four-year-old.

So Conor held us spellbound with his commonplace tale until they had again marked him below at Murphy’s and the bitches had sung hopelessly above his cosy ramifications in the big double bank.

04 Jan 2010

Waterford Hunt

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Irish Times 2:59 narrated slide show of a recent day with the Waterford Hunt.

26 Jun 2009

Foxhound Pack Adopts Fallow Deer

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Foxhounds are large (65-70 lbs. – 29-32 kilos.) and powerful animals. They are astonishingly muscular, and a hound pack is fully capable of running for many miles, pulling down, tearing to pieces and devouring its quarry rapidly and on the spot.

Yet, those familiar with hounds often describe the hound temperament as “sweet.” Hounds will eagerly jump up on strangers to lick their faces and be petted, and it is a routine practice as exhibitions to release a pack to be petted and roll around with small children.

Hounds traditionally hunted deer before they hunted foxes. Consequently, the return of the white-tail deer to much of its original range in the Eastern United States in the 1950s and 1960s had a tremendous impact on hunting and hound breeding.

Ben Hardaway, the renowned and colorful Master of Georgia’s Midland Foxhounds, often recounts how, when deer arrived in his territory, he found he could not stop his beloved July-strain American foxhounds from chasing deer, and successfully running them down and eating them.

Hardaway found himself obliged to travel to Britain and Ireland in search of deer-proof strains of foxhounds, and he proceeded to blend appropriate British foxhound strains with American, adding a soupçon of Penn Marydel, to produce what became recognized as a new, very widely used category of foxhound, the Crossbred.

Hardaway’s impact on hound breeding has been so great that he was recently honored by the North American Museum of Hounds and Hunting by admission to its Hall of Fame Huntsman’s Room, an honor rarely conferred on a living sportsman.

It is, therefore, interesting to find that the 30 couple (60) of foxhounds of the Chiddingfield, Leconfield and Cowdray Hunt, whose territory is in Surrey and Sussex, recently adopted a ten-week old fallow deer (Dama dama) fawn, allowing him to accompany the pack on its off-season walks.

Huntsman Adrian Thompson, however, expressed a disinclination to allow the fawn to hunt with his hounds next Autumn. He does not think the young deer would have the stamina to keep up with hounds. (Maybe someone will offer him a ride, and BamBam will be able to car follow.)

Daily Mail

Telegraph

Hat tip to Karen L. Myers.

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