Foxhunting Life with Horse and Hound


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Mountain and Muse: A Bi-Centennial


museThe Port of Baltimore earned a place in American history two hundred years ago this month during the War of 1812. The British, after burning and sacking Washington, D.C. in August of 1814, turned their attention to Baltimore with an assault by naval and ground troops in September. Francis Scott Key, a witness to the naval bombardment of Fort McHenry, jotted down the words to what became our national anthem, “The Star Spangled Banner.”

The Port of Baltimore earned its place in American foxhunting history that very same month—September, 1814. After the British fleet withdrew to make its final assault of the War of 1812 on New Orleans, a merchant ship entered the Port of Baltimore and disembarked two foxhounds from Ireland, Mountain and Muse.

Unusual for their appearance, speed, aggression, hunting style, and pre-potency, Mountain and Muse turned out to be progenitors of our principal American foxhound strains: July, Birdsong, Trigg, Bywaters, and Walker. The Midland Crossbred, developed by Ben Hardaway, MFH, found today in kennels all over North America as well as England, and having its roots in the July strain, also goes back to Mountain and Muse.


Elusive Live Oak Foxhound Is Finally Captured

charterCharter, secured at last / Nancy Kleck photoCharter, the elusive foxhound that has been on the lam for nearly four months, has finally been secured. A happy ending to a series of News items we ran after Charter and Perfect—male and female unentered hounds belonging to the Live Oak Hounds (FL)—became frightened and escaped from the Virginia Foxhound Show at Morven Park just before the Memorial Day weekend.

Perfect, who never left the Morven Park grounds, was caught a couple of weeks later in a box dog trap and returned to Live Oak, but Charter has been on an odyssey that took him from Leesburg south across two major east-west Virginia highways, Routes 7 and 50. He traveled on his own as far as Middleburg---perhaps twenty miles as the crow flies—where he settled in near Zulla Road and cadged a living wherever he could. He would not allow anyone to get near enough to capture him, however.

Hunt Reports

Cubhunting at Old Dominion

Cubhunting is in full swing and it’s time to be publishing hunting stories once again. Here’s one from an honorary whipper-in to the Old Dominion Hounds (VA) about a good hunt on a clever fox. How are your hounds doing? Click to send us your story and photos.

odhhuntreportJohn Stuart (left), huntsman Ross Salter (center), honorary whipper-in Denya Dee Leake (right) watch the Old Dominion hounds speak to their line. / Michele Arnold photo

Promptly at 8:00 am huntsman Ross Salter sent hounds into covert, and by the time I got around the covert—which took no more than two minutes—hounds had opened. I galloped down the side of the road trying to stay in front of them just in case they shot over to cross the road. No sooner had I reached the end of the covert, out popped the fox!

It was a big, healthy red fox. I hollered, and hounds came flying. They crossed the road into Warrenton Hunt's country. I went around the left-hand side of the covert while Ross went through the middle. The fox ran all the way to the end of the woods and made a sharp right hand circle, heading back to where he had come from. He then made something close to a  serpentine through the woods, but the hounds never lost him. They kept the pressure on.

There is a small valley going through the woods and the fox really worked that valley. He kept crossing a small creek but still could not shake hounds off. He finally crossed a big road, and Ross thought he had better stop hounds before one got hit.

It had been a great cubhunting morning. We had run for about an hour and a half. All puppies and entered hounds were accounted for. We were smiling all the way home and so proud of the puppies!

Posted September 16, 2014


Melvin Poe Dies at Home at Age Ninety-Four

Norman Fine

melvin.90thMelvin Poe at his ninetieth birthday celebration / Douglas Lees photoThe world of American foxhunting lost one of its best-loved and most highly respected personalities with the passing of huntsman Melvin Poe, age ninety-four, on Saturday September 13, 2014. That’s the sad news. The good news is that Melvin was able to ride his horse and hunt his hounds to the very last year of his life.

In foxhunting circles he was referred to simply as Melvin. Everyone knew who you were talking about. He’s been a fixture in North American foxhunting for more than sixty years and a celebrated legend for most of that time. He’s immortalized in a dramatic oil painting by Wally Nall; he made the cover of UK’s Horse and Hound in 1991; he starred in Tom Davenport’s 1979 foxhunting video documentary, Thoughts on Foxhunting, narrated by Alexander Mackay-Smith;  he was the subject for Peter Winant’s wonderful book, Foxhunting with Melvin Poe, The Derrydale Press, 2002; and in 2011 Melvin was inducted, along with his brother Albert, into the Huntsmen's Room at the Museum of Hounds and Hunting in Leesburg, Virginia.

Melvin grew up in the Virginia countryside. He was the boy to whom his friends turned to identify trees, birds, and animal tracks. His father, uncles, and brothers were all enthusiastic hound breeders and hunters. Melvin and his contemporaries represent a vanishing breed of countryman who knew the woodlands intimately and all that grew and thrived therein. And baseball! Melvin and his brothers loved baseball and participated in organized league play into their adult years.

Our Hunting World

A Visit to Scarteen


Blue Ridge Fall Races Supporting Injured Jockeys Fund

jockeys(l-r) Jockeys Robbie Walsh, Willie McCarthy, and Jeff Murphy greet a couple of young racegoers in support of the Injured Jockeys Fund. / Kathy Rubin photo

At the Calcutta party the night before the Blue Ridge Fall Races this year, racegoers will bid on the jockeys instead of the horses. A number of jockeys—among them Robbie Walsh, Willie McCarthy, Jeff Murphy, Kieran Norris, and Zoe Valvo—will attend the affair to mingle with the crowd and help promote their very own cause, the American Steeplechase Injured Jockeys Fund.

The Calcutta will take place on Friday night, September 19, 2014, and the races will go off on Saturday, September 20. The Blue Ridge Fall Races traditionally support local charities, but this year a portion of the race revenues will be donated to the Injured Jockeys Fund, a relatively recent endeavor that is gaining momentum under enthusiastic leadership.

For every jump jockey who rides races it’s not a question of if; it’s a question of how often he or she will fall and whether or not there will be injuries. With thousand pound Thoroughbred racehorses all galloping to the same fences at thirty-five miles an hour, falls and injuries are part and parcel of the game. And some injuries turn out to be life-changers for the jockey.

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