Blaker Family of Sussex - Reminiscences


Fox Hunting.

A MEET of the Foxhounds, especially on a fine morning, is a grand sight and one always to be remembered. The men in "Pink," with some ladies, all mounted on the best of horses, in the best condition, with coats shining like satin, and the splendid hounds (there is no more beautiful dog that a foxhound) present a feature scarcely to be surpassed. When I can first recollect there was the same picture, but in more sober colours. There were fewer men in "Pink" and very few if any ladies. The horses were of a somewhat stouter build and their coats were rough, for clipping and singeing had scarcely been introduced (Dr. Taylor, as he was called, who lived in the Old Steine, once shaved a horse), and the hounds were stouter and heavier. Foxes were much fewer in number, and it was sometimes late in the day before a fox was found; occasionally there was an absolutely blank day. When a fox was found he was not so quickly killed or lost, but was steadily hunted by these hounds, and those long runs were possible which are related in old sporting volumes. I can well recollect that, when my father went with the foxhounds, stewed beef, or something which could not be spoiled by too much cooking, was provided, and this would be ready on his return, sometimes at 7 or 8 p.m., or even later. I recollect also the time and work it took grooms to get tired horses, with their long coats, dry and comfortable and fit to be left for the night. Strong language, or "dog language" as it was called, was very freely used by masters of hounds and huntsmen. I once called on an old retired huntsman and casually said :"Why did you swear at me one day in Jointure Copse for no cause whatever?" The answer was : "Half the times I didn't know what I was swearing at."

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