Lunch #8: Tally-ho!

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(Susan Whitfield, Ned Brown and Kelly Carr)

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(Middleton Place Hounds. The lead dog is named “Trump”; once he starts yapping, he never shuts up- how appropriately named!)

Since I was having lunch with my good friend, Susan Whitfield, and her longtime Upperville, Va. to Charleston transplant pal, Kelly Carr, both members of Middleton Place Hounds, I was curious as to the derivation of this foxhunting cry. It was first used in the States around 1802 when a fox was spotted, but has an earlier derivation. Apparently, it was a French war cry in the 13th century when the leader of a mounted cavalry  would shout “Taille”, referring to the leading edge of a sabre, and “Haut” meaning high, or to raise. Now, proper French pronunciation for Taille is “Tie” and Haut is pronounced “O”, like the letter. I am reasonably sure it was an early Charlestonian, who came up with Tally-ho, much the same as some Anglophile butchered Huger into “Oogee” and Legare into “Legree”; I’ll let you look-up the proper French pronunciation, but next time you are in France, and need to take a train, don’t ask, “Ou est Le Gree?” for directions.

Back to the lunch with the ladies….

Middleton Place House Hounds is featured in my forthcoming book, Charleston, a Good Life, done along with photographer and co-author, Ben Gately Williams. We profiled the hunt club, because it is interesting, charming and a traditional part of the Lowcountry horse culture. Since both gals cut their hunting teeth riding in the hills of Miiddleburg, Upperville and “further upper” in Virginia, I wanted to hear their thoughts on hunting in the Lowcountry.

Susan chimed-in with, “In Virginia, people ride to hunt, whereas here, people hunt to ride.” I learned that here the hunt is a “drag” (no Vulpes), which the dogs follow; so, the hunt knows where the ride will start, follow and end. In Virginia, they are often going for the red, furry critter, which can require jumps over stone walls, ravines and all sorts of fun obstacles. Not so much here: the terrain is relatively flat, a few low jumps over fallen trees, and often, spectators in vehicles can follow the hunt. The upside to hunting at Middleton is that it is less than a thirty minute drive from downtown Charleston, so the hunt doesn’t have to be an all-day affair; in Virginia, it is.

I also learned that the local hunt club is quite the social group. During the season, there are multiple breakfasts (with adult beverages) following the hunts, social events either at Middleton Place stables and in-town, and the club even welcomes non-riders as members. The day we were photographing the hunt for the book, many riders saddled-up with Mimosas or champagne.

We continued the lunch conversation with lots of local gossip (not to be repeated here), the advantages of living in Charleston: climate, cuisine, history- all the good stuff included in Charleston, a Good Life. The downside: you have to get away regularly, or your mind will go numb, and most men here do not know how to dress properly (Guys, if the woman you are with makes an effort to dress-up, make the same effort on your part, and leave the wrap-around sunglasses dangling around your neck on a Croakie in the truck).

Also spotted at SNOB that day for lunch were: Mitchell Crosby, Chris Price, Larry Speltz, Beverly Frost, the “$9.95 SNOB Lunch Express Founder” Dick Elliott, Franz Meier, Jim & Pat Lombard (at their bar spots), Charles Waring , Merrill Benfield and Frank Norvell.

Charleston, A Good Life, co-authored by photographer, Ben Gately Williams, and writer/editor, Ned Brown, is a book profiling “interesting Charlestonians (old and newer), doing interesting things in a wonderful place.” The book will be released in latter 2016. Charleston, A Good Life,  will tell the story of why Charleston is a special place through over 50 environmental portraits of individuals; the first book about Charleston of its kind. What we are doing with the Charleston, A Good Life blog is telling you a bit about the people we are profiling, and other Charleston topics of interest.

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