Lizi Ruch is a member of West Hills Hounds in the Pacific District and an artist who designs custom, collectible hunt-theme tableware. In the summer edition of Covertside, we will be featuring The Art of the Hunt.
I grew up in Louisville, Kentucky in the 1950s. I was born horse-crazy in a family of eight. My mom thought this interest would surely pass and was not as keen in supporting my passion in horses as she was in sewing and fashion. Although I collected Breyer Horses, constantly drew horses and ponies and took riding lessons at every opportunity, I moved on to pursue a career in fashion design, ceramics, teaching and art.
One day in 1996, I received a call from a good friend I had known in New York who had moved to Los Angeles. He invited me to come out and try foxhunting. I excused myself at the time because of never-ending deadlines that are always part and parcel of the fashion industry. A few days later I reconsidered his offer. If not now, when would I open myself up to make time for riding and horses I had dreamed of since I was a youngster?
I did take up riding lessons and joined the hunt club. Three years after I joined I was asked to chair the hunt breakfast schedule. At that time, each hunt member was responsible for picking a fixture and date to host the breakfast. I decided to offer an award at our annual meeting to the member who provided the most tasty cuisine and effort. This was the birth of The Morning for Reynard hunt theme tableware. The first pieces were hand-painted with under-glazes on low fire clay blanks.
After two years of recreating these awards I decided to invest in putting the designs on porcelain. I wanted to create patterns that would go together and also tell the story of the hunt, combinations that would have an appeal to both a formal table setting and one of whimsy. What I ended up with were selections that offered choices to the customer, including back stamps with hunt theme songs, fun limericks and a nod to tradition of our sport. Each rim tells a story and is uniquely designed for the piece that holds it.
My dedication to our sport is like yours, and it was this one image that inspired the back stamp for the breakfast and dinner plates. Our sport is kept alive by parents, relatives and friends that also participate and include us, and at any age we can be inspired.
The sport of foxhunting has a rich tradition, handed down from generation to generation. The best of skills are polished in the field over time; the best of runs are celebrated in the reverie of lively banter and camaraderie at the hunt breakfast. This first edition of my work entitled “A Morning for Reynard” celebrates the spirit of the hunt, the hounds, horses, and friends we love and the good sport and sportsmanship we enjoy and admire.
David Wendler has hunted our hounds for 53 years and retired just two years ago. He and Colton are still hunting with our new huntsman Scott Neill. The kennels were recently rebuilt and moved by our joint masters to the property nearby the Tejon fixture.