Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Slowly, Slowly We Enter the Modern World

The Boy Scouts of America has unanimously voted to end its ban on gay scout leaders. Robert Gates, the president of the organization, called for the ban to be lifted in May. The new rule is effective immediately.

Zach Wahls, the executive director of Scouts for Equality, writes:

"For decades, the Boy Scouts of America's ban on gay adults has stood as a towering example of explicit, institutional homophobia in one of America’s most important and recognizable civic organizations. While this policy change is not perfect — BSA's religious chartering partners will be allowed to continue to discriminate against gay adults — it is difficult to overstate the importance of today's announcement."

About time!

What does any of this have to do with terrier work or dogs? A little bit. Robert Baden-Powell (pictured at top), was the founder of the Boy Scout movement and was a cavalry man in South Africa and in the Crimean War. Around the the turn of the Twentieth Century, he noted that the sport of fox hunting was one reason Britain was able to do so well with mounted regiments -- many in the cavalry had gotten their best training running to hounds.

Fox-hunting, when you come to think of it, is really a very wonderful institution. Although it has come to be quite an artificial sport in a wholly civilised country it still keeps going in every part of England in spite of the War, in spite of the decline in horse-breeding, and in spite of heavy taxes and heavier costs. It is one of the few old institutions left which still keeps us in touch to-day with the traditions and spirit of the former Old England. There is another point about it too. Having seen most of the cavalries of the world I have no doubt in my mind as to which is the most efficient for its work in war, and equally I have no doubt that fox-hunting is to a large extent responsible for that efficiency.

The nation really owes much to fox-hunting for what it has done to help our cavalry to compensate for its small quantity by its excellence in quality, and this without any extra call upon the taxpayer—for once!

The ex-Kaiser fully recognised this even before he had tasted its quality in the Great War, and he had established at Hanover a pack of hounds as part of the establishment of the Cavalry School there.

Of course, it was militarised, having a Captain as Master, a Sergeant-Major as huntsman, a Sargeant as first whip, and so on downwards.

Undoubtedly fox-hunting has proved a school for training men in riding fearlessly across country of all descriptions; it has taught them practical horsemastership, in economising the powers of the horse, and judging when to nurse him and when to let him go. It has also trained in them that invaluable attribute, 'an eye for country,' and not through dry lectures or boring field-days, but through a sport which appeals to their enthusiasm and gives them at once health and enjoyment."

And would Robert Baden-Powell celebrate the most recent change at the Boy Scouts of America? I have no doubt! You see, Robert Baden Powell was almost certainly gay himself, though closeted, as was common at the time.

1 comment:

DianaT said...

That post brought back so many childhood memories - I had my first riding lessons and my first ratting job at the former Cavalry school in Hanover, now the "Reiterverein Hannover", an oasis set up for around 200 horses with facilities for international standard eventing, surrounded by miles of high rise council house buildings. Of course, the latter is where the draghunts used to take place. Social housing replaces the hunting ground, the pack is long gone. But the "Jagdstall" must be one of the last city centre training grounds in the world :)