History of Foxhunting

The sport of foxhunting has existed in the United States since the Colonial days. The British brought the sport with them when they came to the Colonies. Fox Hunting was popular with the noblemen of England, who usually happened to be military officers.  This hunting activity quickly became a favorite among the cavalry. Based on endurance and stamina, fox hunting was a great way to keep the cavalry horses in shape when they weren’t training for battle. Fox hunting was also used for pest control.  Foxes were known to be nuisances by killing small livestock and chickens, so farmers would hunt them with hounds. The noblemen, along with early settlers, bringing hounds of various types from Britain, France and Ireland created the American foxhound of today that is a breed of its own.  

While in the Colonial past, the quarry would’ve been hunted and killed, today in America, the sport is more about enjoying a good horse, good company, and the thrill of the chase.  A healthy coyote or fox can easily out-run and out-smart even the most talented of hounds, sometimes even playing games with their pursuers. Besides, we prefer the quarry to escape.  This ensures another good day of chasing in the future.

Fox hunting is all about tradition and still follows strict rules established centuries ago when the sport first came to be.  These rules are for safety of horse and rider, safety of hounds or they ensure that the hunt is not interrupted. Here is a list of some of the most important rules:

  1. Always wear an ASTM certified helmet and proper attire.
  2. Staff members and hounds have the right-of-way.
  3. Never ride past your field master or the Huntmaster.
  4. Follow your field master or the Huntmaster’s directives.
  5. Hounds are not to be spoken to as they may get distracted.
  6. Always warn the rider behind you of possible hazards.
  7. Make sure your horse NEVER kicks a hound.

While all the rules of fox hunting may be a turn-off in the beginning, you soon begin to appreciate the tradition that the clubs have managed to keep for hundreds of years.