Thursday, August 12, 2010

A Typology of Foxhunters, Part 7: Strivers

We continue with another excerpt from the Foxhunter Typologies. This week’s posting addresses Strivers, without whom there would be no foxhunting. Ours is not a sport for namby-pambies. Leadership requires an ability to herd cats, act decisively, and show absolute confidence in any situation. Having demonstrated those abilities in less significant arenas (e.g., industry, governance, space exploration, etc.), the Striver sets his sights on the most challenging undertaking of all – leading a group of unruly foxhunters. Those of us not so constructed, we who are content to simply ride among the ranks, are thankful for our dearly beloved Strivers. Which is not to say, however, that we’re above making the occasional comment regarding those whose backsides we have spent many hours observing. And so we present…


The Striver is an A personality type writ large. He is supremely self-confident and certain that God has put him on this earth to be a leader of men. The job opportunities for cavalry officers are slim these days but serving as a hunt master is the next best thing. His need for dominance extends beyond the hunting field to include all aspects of club management. He can be the most gracious, charming, delightful person you have ever met, a man you would willing follow anywhere and whose biding you would do without question or hesitation. Or he can be the most overbearing, rude, self-focused, nasty, and dictatorial SOB you’ve ever had the misfortune to encounter. These opposing traits are often embodied in the same person.

A lifetime of striving has brought him wealth, property, and position (along with multiple mistresses and at least one trophy wife). His land makes up a substantial portion of the hunt’s territory and without his generous support the club would suffer immensely. He may have even started the club himself and owns the kennels, hounds, and staff residence outright.

Many Strivers are not content to simply lead the field while the hired help hunts the hounds. Instead, they take over this role as well, fully convinced that not one person in the entire world can do the job as expertly as they can. Not only must all people bow to the Striver’s will but so must hounds and horses. The one creature capable of foiling the Striver’s quest for total dominance over all that moves is the fox himself. The need to bring this wily opponent into submission fuels the Striver’s passion for the chase. It may be that the Striver considers the fox alone to be his equal for wits, drive, boldness, and supreme self-confidence in the face of overwhelming odds. In a contest of three dozen foxhounds versus one fox, the Striver will always identify with the fox.

Not every master is a Striver. But every Striver is either a master or is steadily working his way toward obtaining that office. If the current hunt doesn’t offer sufficient opportunity, he’ll either switch to another club more likely to need his redoubtable leadership skills or break away and start his own, appointing himself master and huntsman.

Other than a few lingering old fashioned customs of dress and speech, foxhunting is, for the most part, a gender-neutral sport. The use of the masculine pronoun in the paragraphs above notwithstanding, a woman is just as likely to be a master as is a man. And she is equally likely to fit the Striver profile. Some are even rumored to have testicles. Or wish they did.

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