Sunday, July 8, 2012

Middlebury Hunt Club

Photos from our archives
By night I slept at the very top of the modest little grandstand, built, as was the race-course, by stolidly British members of the district, who, like all the others of our immutable clan, were allergic to the absence of horses. 
- Beryl Markham, West with the Night






















31 comments:

Samantha said...

Such wonderful photos; thank you for sharing. (And thank you for making me snort-laugh at your comment to our Anonymous friend.)

LPC said...

It's so great you have these photographs. It also makes me think of my father. His family had some sort of horse arrangement, stables or something, back in the early part of the previous century maybe even race horses.

Anyway, in his 40s Dad got interested in riding again, and we all spent time at a wonderful unpretentious family ranch up in the Sierras, owned by the Hunewills. Eventually we wound up with two horses and a pony ourselves. Dad even trained in dressage, not for competition, just for himself.

When family resources allow for horses, I think they add a dimension of caring, discipline, and responsibility.

Anonymous said...

Muffy - I have been following your blog almost since the first post. I have to say I am impressed with your restraint in holding back these wonderful photographs until 2 and a half years in. If it were I doing a blog on Prep, I would have posted them on day 2! (It was, as I recall, more than year into the blog that you similarly mentioned that your husband was a direct decedent of the founders of Boston, Cambridge, and Harvard University). I admire your patience and lack of need for instant "credibility" and status.

Anonymous said...

"Low-key," very true. Ms. Aldrich, could you recommend a solid introductory birding book. Or, a good New England birding book for beginners. Thank you.

Main Line Sportsman said...

Wonderful photos!. Luckily for us here in SE Penna, fox hunting is alive and well...Radnor and Pickering to name 2. It is a delight to see the hunt galloping across the fields in November.
Right now, one of my daughters is a CIT at a small riding camp in Virginia.

John said...

Oh yes! Horses are a way of life here in Virginia, as I'm sure you well know. You'd never get me on one, but I've been to a couple of local shows and enjoy observing good riders. Once I even got an accomplished horsewoman from Charlottesville to go out with me a couple of times. She had a Saab and a gigantic Ford diesel truck, and handled both with equal aplomb. As you can imagine, I was devastated when it didn't work out!

WRJ said...

The photos are wonderful, and it's nice that equestrian apparel, at least, has remained essentially unchanged for a half-century. I don't ride--I think I'm too twitchy and nervous to be atop a twitchy and nervous animal, a thought confirmed when a horse broke my sister's foot. But my cousin and close friend is an excellent equestrian who competed and later taught (and recently photographed the Belmont Stakes), and a friend from college has made a career of competing in dressage on the Grand Prix level. It's an incredible sport to watch from afar, which I try to do as often as possible. And polo! In spite of the pretentious associations, it is simply astounding to watch. (I actually thought until a few years ago that water polo was, in fact, a game of polo played with horses in a large pool. Which, considering Aspen and St. Moritz have snow polo, may not be that crazy.)

You're probably right that Fairfield County has changed--I didn't know it then. But there remain areas that may resemble your experiences. Easton, where I'm staying this weekend, is one such place: beautiful historic homes, large swaths of preserved land, dotted with horse farms. Whether it's worth the trade-off is another question entirely, though.

Cranky Yankee said...

On the subject of horses, let's hope that the weather cooperates this year:

http://www.newportmansions.org/events/a-weekend-of-coaching

Three years ago, Newport was so miserably hot and humid (much like today) that half of the owners had to take their horses and coaches home before the big Sunday finale. A real shame, considering the amount of time, money and effort that they graciously commit. So even though, "Greenwich is no longer Greenwich," and Newport is no longer Newport, we're lucky to have our reminders.

And Anonymous 10:18 might enjoy this timely article:

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/08/opinion/sunday/the-new-elitists.html?pagewanted=all

Paul Connors said...

Once again: WOW, WOW and WOW!

These are quintessential B & W photos of a sport we've all seen on TV and many of us wish we could have undertaken had time, location and other circumstances allowed us to do so.

These images do such a great job of capturing the time and place and because they lack color, "tonality" becomes the key emotional driver (along with your father's keen compositional eye).

For me, this is real photography and not what one sees today with all the whiz-bang digital enhancements that come from a computer rather than the photographer's vision. For me, this is REAL photography and the examples you have been gracious enough to share with us are exemplars of the art.

Your father had talent in this field and his works need to be showcased. I hope you'll consider a book (as several of us suggested).

Thank you again for sharing these pieces of time and your Dad's talents with us.

Paul Connors

Anonymous said...

Oh how I wish I could go back to a time when "neither the terrain nor the women are “overdone.”"

I miss the old Connecticut -- it's wonderful open spaces, trails, and hunter paces.

What part of Maine has that feel?

Anonymous said...

Just curious, do most of the people who have relocated to Maine, stay there throughout the winter? I know they're likely of hardy stock, but does age make a difference?
Kathy

Casey said...

Amazing photographs! I treasure the photos my grandfather took of my mother riding at about the same age (although they are probably 20 years older).

Billsburg said...

Although I've briefly visited Greenwich and Newport, I'm curious in what ways the towns have changed in the past number of years. I'm assuming people with a lot of money who don't know what to do with it have moved in?

That has certainly happened in Virginia. My favorites are the the people who move to Williamsburg and build (as an example) a "replica" of the Governor's Palace eight blocks from the original. They also love to talk about how stupid southerners are which is perplexing. We may be stupid but at least we aren't that rude although it IS very tempting to suggest they move "back home".

Love your pictures.....

Jacob Phelps said...

Muffy,

Thank you so much for posting these photographs. They are beautiful. As a born and raised Kentuckian, the love of horses is implanted in my blood.

Jacob

Susan R said...

I loved the dig that you sneaked in there for anonymous...you've got a good sense of humor.
Now about this post. You know me and horses...so this post and the photos are adored. I think I have only a handful of activities that interest me and riding my horses is at the top of the list. It's not an inexpensive sport/interest by any means, but has been the best therapy for myself and my children for years. It keeps us all very busy and the kids out of trouble.
By the way...there's just something about a man in riding breeches, a white polo shirt and tall boots that just makes my head spin.

Anonymous said...

Dear Muffy:


I detect "trolls"in some of the anonymous responses. Although I am by far not from New England or anything to do with it, as a philosopher and amateur cultural anthropologist, I am led to believe --I suspect--some of these posts are facetious, if not malicious...say at 10:50 or 11:15 where the proper punctuation is missing signifies more than a "mistake."

I understand, of course, that the USA, unlike my native Patagonia, eschews class distinctions...but it shows.


Thanks for showing a side of American life which I had "known" mostly through (R.I.P) Paull Fussell.

a diligent reader

Beth said...

Muffy, are you included in any of these photographs?

Greenfield said...

Thank you, Muffy, for this walk down Memory Lane . . . I'm envious of those comfortably baggy breeches; nowadays everything is "4-way stretch" which is a euphemism for sausage casing. Once in a blue moon I can still find a pair like these on E-Bay.

Fairfield and Greenwich still have many horse farms and very extensive bridle trail systems, maintained by diligent volunteers with the help of generous landowners who have provided rights-of-way and conservation easements. Not what it was, but certainly not bad. I can still ride right out my front gate and be lost out there on horseback for many happy hours. That Westport tack shop's 2nd-generation owner and I just spoke last Thursday about trying to get some interest in polo going around here again!

When you were hunting with the Middlebury in those days, did they have 3 big stone walls in a row named "Faith, Hope & Charity?" They were there in the 80's--solid enough to look scary when espied, but safe and thrilling on a scopey jumper!

binker said...

I LOVE horses. Unfortunately, my summers included only trail riding up at our cottage on Lake Huron. I enjoyed it though. What wonderful photos. It is difficult for the viewer (without the aid of the text) to discern if the photos were taken in England or the US ...New England or Virginia/Maryland,etc. Many of my favorite photos are the ones which have both a timelessness and an uncertainty of location to them.

off topic...
Muffy, thanks for Inspector Lewis reminder!! I can't wait. I love Inspector Lewis (and Morse and Lynley).
Question for you .....which 3 sports are you looking forward to watching at the Olympics?

Marie said...

While it is often thought of as an elitist sport, I have found many of those involved in foxhunting to be down to earth and welcoming to anyone who has a love of the sport and country ways.
You are never too old to ride-

Kathie Truitt said...

You have the best photo collection of any other blogger in the blogosphere! I will be the big 5-0 in a few weeks, and up until 5 years ago was an avid rider of both English and Western. I miss it, but living in the big city, along with the economy, it became next to impossible to keep a horse at the local stable. She is now 'retired' and teaching little girls in the D.C./Virginia area how to ride.

Anonymous said...

Kramer fed the horse Beefaroni before the infamous hansom cab ride around Central Park with George's almost in-laws.

j.mosby said...

Muffy,
Love the Hunt photos! Look like old "Life" magazine quality photography! Was expecting to see William F. Faulkner in one of the photos:-)

Howie said...

Great post Muffy! My wife has been riding since she was 4 years old and to say she loves horses and riding is a gross understatement. The passion that "horse people" have for these animals and the sport in general is often wildy fervent. This made her miss her fox hunting days down in Virginia hunt country even more.

Chris from New Hampshire said...

Thanks, Muffy. While other blogs show us images derived from advertisements, you show us the images on which the advertisements themselves are derived.

Old Oak Farm said...

In the early eighties LL bean sold a great winter riding alternative to paddock boots. They were called Cabin Boots.Do you or any of your readers remember them and who made them for LL Bean? I have called customer service, but was told no one could help me in my search.

binker said...

Town and Country Magazine August 2012. A pretty impressive list of young ladies whose lives revolve around horses. Check it out.

Oxford Cloth Button Down said...

Muffy,

Splendid pictures. Thanks for sharing. I enjoyed them very much.

Anonymous said...

Muffy, as an avid equestrian of today, I'd love to see some pictures of your riding days! I love hearing stories that my trainer tells of "back in the day," when hunter courses consisted of open fields and solid jumps...more like the fox hunting than the simple courses we have now!

Anyway...someone mentioned polo in one of the comments, I believe. Giant Valley Polo in Hamden, CT is starting to attempt to bring the sport more publicity, and they do a lot of charity matches...if anyone is looking to watch polo, I'd suggest going there. They're not as fancy as some of the pictures you see in magazine, but the horses are all happy and in good shape, and the people are incredibly nice and willing to answer any questions you might have. I've been a few times and loved it!

Baggy breeches said...

They are also known as Jodhpur pants or royal riding pants (baggy - tight, horse riding trousers).

Horse riding breeches said...

while wearing your jodhpur baggy trousers. They can be worn with T-shirts, hunting shirts , as shown in picture, short shirts, Jodhpuri coat or Nehru jacket