Wednesday, September 8, 2010

A Typology of Foxhunters, Part 11: Chasers

"O wad some Power the giftie gie us

To see oursels as ithers see us!"

To A Louse
Robert Burns

"Let him who is without sin and has a good pitchin’ arm see how far he can cast this here stone.”

Dave Barry

Our journey through a Typology of Foxhunters concludes with this week’s posting – Chasers. This series has generated many comments such as “What typology do you think I am?” and “My lawyer will be in touch with you.” Without citing a hard number, I think it’s safe to report that the favorability rating of this blog has far outstripped that of Congress (they’re down to single digits in some polls now, right?). And as everyone has a suggestion to improve the legislative process, so too have many readers of the Foxhunters Guide felt moved to suggest other topics for consideration on these pages. All such input is appreciated. And the more detailed the better. As the saying goes, “Plagiarism is the highest form of flattery.” (Certainly makes my work easier.)

For now, though, we’re going to wrap up Foxhunter Typologies with this week’s posting, give the blog a thorough cleansing with cyber disinfectant to wash away any remnants of lingering snarkiness, and turn to other, perhaps less prickly, topics starting next week. But for those of you who appreciate the attitude of Alice Roosevelt Longworth (“If you can’t say something nice, come and sit by me.”), fear not – there’s sure to be a return of the pricklies at some point.

Here is the final installment of Typologies, the one you’ve all been waiting for…


Chasers make up the majority of foxhunters. Indeed, everyone reading this should consider himself or herself a Chaser (your good taste in blog selection clearly confirms that). Their primary motivation is a pure and simple love of the chase. Chasers enjoy riding horses and following hounds but the sport is not the main focus of their lives. They ride well enough to endure long runs and jump difficult fences without braggadocio, complaint, or excuse. While many could easily match or even exceed the skill and knowledge level of those serving as staff, the Chaser aspires to no higher office than that of the happy member of the field. They understand the difference between accepting the inherent risk the sport entails and the stupidity of taking unnecessary chances. If called upon to help out in a pinch as, say, field leader or whipper-in, they’ll rise to the occasion and do an admirable job. When the master or whip returns, the Chaser steps aside and rejoins the audience, his or her ego still comfortably intact. Most days Chasers will stay out until the huntsman blows “Going Home.” But when the action drags on for several hours and even fit horses begin to flag they will pull up, let the Superman Striver and his small band of Juice Junkies continue on, and take a leisurely walk back to the trailers, saving both themselves and their horses for another day.

Chasers serve on various club committees, as their schedule allows, and bring a level-headed maturity to the work. They pay their dues on time, recognize the value they receive for the outlay, and kick in extra bucks when appropriate such as at fundraising auctions and for the huntsman’s Christmas bonus. They appreciate the finer points of the sport – proper turnout, order in the field, when to be silent (most of the time), how the day’s hound work is proceeding – but are not insistent that all others adhere to the same old-fashioned standards. They are friendly and polite toward guests and new members, offering assistance and guidance when appropriate.

If there’s a downside to my depiction of Chasers, it’s that they’re so damn admirable it’s hard to poke fun at them.

Chasers are the backbone of foxhunting, the ones who are aware that the privilege of riding to hounds makes each of us one of the most fortunate people in the world. So why sully this singularly distinctive experience with misplaced ego or personal agenda? The Chaser revels in the joys the sport has to offer, accepts its responsibilities, laughs at his or her own shortcomings, and strives for patience with the foibles of others. If this Typology of Foxhunters has shown nothing else, it’s that when it comes to foibles, each of us contributes in some way, whether major or minor (okay, so maybe some waaaay more major than others). This is what makes us human. And wouldn’t life be damn boring if we were all perfect?

An attitude of patient acceptance strengthens the sense of camaraderie, a belief that we’re all in this sport for the same reasons, that we share the same values. True, we may have come to this pastime from a diversity of backgrounds, but now, in the spirit of the American Dream, we’re all bound together as equals (although “diversity” among foxhunters may have a slightly more narrow definition than it does among the broader populace).

And so I now conclude the Typology of Foxhunters, for the time being anyway, with one more inclusion of my oft-cited Burnsian riff:

I pray no power the giftie gie them

To see themselves as I do see them.

May readers sing the praise that’s due me,

But none get pissed and try to sue me.

© 2010 J. Harris Anderson

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