In between the World Wars, foxhunting enjoyed a renaissance of prosperity and popularity, both in England and the United States. A good deal of the literature of the time has a very British flavor, but sometimes books stand out as distinctly American. One is Let’s Ride to Hounds by “Anole Hunter” (pseudonym of Everett Lake Crawford, 1879-1960) and illustrated by Edward King.
The book falls into the familiar (and sometimes lampooned) genre of practical advice for entry-level enthusiasts of the sport. Hunter lays out his intent of writing to the concerns and issues surrounding American foxhunting during his time period (the book was published in 1929). The book was printed by The Derrydale Press, itself an enterprise dedicated to raising the profile and quality of American sporting literature.
The book contains good advice for participating in a growing sport, including basics of riding, finding a good horse, starting and developing a pack of hounds, and of course, hunting the fox. Hunter suggests eschewing pure Thoroughbreds for entry-level or casual hunters, as they are easier to manage.
I find the emphasis on American hunting to be fascinating, especially unexpected turns in its history:
One of the best things for American Hunting was the World War. Packs were of course depleted, but it has brought about a comradeship between various parts of our land that was sorely lacking in foxhunters. The East was prone to think that they had a monopoly of foxhunting and did not feel that the cowboys from Cleveland, Lake Forest and points West belonged. A big change has come, and the East has been met on even terms too often by Western Foxhunters not to appreciate a fine sportsman when they see one.
Hunter also relates a phenomenon that happened near us here in Virginia following World War II: the import of foxes to replenish a depleted population. Foxhunters have a vested interest in keeping foxes around: no fox, no sport. But the import of new foxes means that the familiar haunts and coverts have a tendency to change.
Masters import wild foxes and set them out. These new animals are not acquainted with the points of their neighbors, and they make new points for themselves.
Let’s Ride to Hounds is available for sale in our Annual Auction. The Annual Auction is our main Library fundraiser each year. You can read more about participation in the Annual Auction by viewing the catalog.
John Connolly has served as the George L. Ohrstrom, Jr. Librarian at the National Sporting Library & Museum (NSLM) since early 2014. He is responsible for the care of the Library collections, including books, magazines, photographs, diaries, letters, and much more. 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 John by e-mail