A Short History of Foxhunting

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9781906122577: A Short History of Foxhunting
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Few people hunting today are really aware of the history of their sport. Most accounts of the subject tend to be somewhat dry and academic. So, in an easy and entertaining manner, here is a concise version of how this much-misunderstood sport has survived and flourished through centuries of change, to the benefit of the fox and its environment. * Concise chapters gallop through the history of hunting from 1066 to the present day, interspersed with snippets of hunting verse and song * Index of foxhunting packs in the UK and US * Specially-commissioned line illustrations of hunting scenes by Alistair Jackson

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About the Author:

Alastair Jackson was Director of the Masters of Foxhounds Association until his recent retirement. Previously a Master of Foxhounds and huntsman for many years, he is also a talented writer and illustrator who has contributed regularly to Horse and Hound. He is the author of The Great Hunts and is a renowned illustrator of many books.

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Throughout the 19th century foxhunting spread to the Carolinas, and west to Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi and Georgia, with a military Hunt from Fort Gibson in Oklahoma established in 1835. In the Deep South the phenomenon of night hunting flourished, whereby farmers and others who owned a couple of foxhounds would get together at night and sit round a fire enjoying a drink and listening to the cry of their hounds as they hunted the foxes in that area. The Civil War ended in 1865 leaving the southern economy crippled. The planter aristocracy, formally the leaders of the foxhunting world, suffered especially. Substantial numbers of an entire generation of young Virginia men did not return from that bloody conflict, and many of the estates and plantations were inherited by women. A lack of male Masters of Hounds was to some extent filled by Englishmen emigrating to the Southern States, many of them anxious to organise foxhunting in their new country along traditional lines. Amid the increasing wealth of the North by the turn of the 20th century, polo, racing and foxhunting were all thriving. From this background came Harry Worcester Smith, A. Henry Higginson and Henry Vaughan, who, between them, were to lay the foundations for modern foxhunting in North America. Higginson was born into a wealthy family, but there was no way he was going to follow his father's footsteps in business and finance. Following Harvard, he dedicated his life entirely to foxhunting, living in great style as an MFH on both sides of the Atlantic and was a prolific author and collector of hunting books, now housed in the London Library. He formed his first pack in 1900 as the Middlesex Hunt Club in his home state of Massachusetts, becoming a firm advocate of the English-bred foxhound. Harry Worcester Smith, also from Massachusetts, had always been deeply impressed by the ability of the American foxhound to pursue the red fox successfully, even on a bad scent and in the very dry conditions often experienced in North America. He formed his own pack of American hounds, which he called the Grafton after his home town, in 1904 becoming Master of the Piedmont in Virginia. As a rival of Higginson, and following lengthy debates on the qualities of their English and American packs, the high profile Great Hound Match of 1905 was arranged, consisting of two weeks hunting in the Piedmont country, which was reported daily in English and American newspapers.

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