Foxhunting Life with Horse and Hound


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Blue Ridge Huntsman Guy Allman Returns to England

Once again the time of year has arrived when hunts and huntsmen contemplating change make their decisions known—one to the other. Foxhunting Life will feature at least some of these huntsmen’s personal transitions through the coming months.

guy allman.kleckNancy Kleck photo

Guy Allman, popular huntsman for the Blue Ridge Hunt (VA) for the past three seasons, received an offer he couldn’t refuse. He’ll return to England—home for him and his wife, Fran—to carry the horn for the Bicester with Waddon Chase Foxhounds. Guy will succeed huntsman Patrick Martin, who is retiring after twenty-two seasons hunting the pack.

The condition, fitness, and biddability of the Blue Ridge hounds testify to Allman’s work ethic. He spends a great deal of time training puppies early on, so by the time the season starts they are ready to enter, off the couples, all at once. On the first day of the season, every hound to be entered is out with the pack. And it’s a big pack, typically twenty-five to thirty couple, virtually every hound in kennels capable of walking on four legs.

Also on the first day of hunting, every hound is fit not only for the chase but for the late-summer weather as well. Allman wants hounds as oblivious to the heat as he appears to be. There are to be no excuses.


Strike Hound

strike hound.kleckNancy Kleck photo The fox crossed here, a car follower
Points as the foxhound pack roils roadside,
Takes the scent up onto the asphalt,
Loses the line, circles back to churn again
While one tri-color, by herself, crosses over,
Scrambles up the stone wall, squeezes
Through the boards on top, runs nose-down
Serpentines until she finds, gives tongue
On the fox’s line. The pack comes to her,
Oh yes, hot fox, they bay, go screaming off as one.
That’s the bitch I want to be.

Wendell Hawken earned her MFA in Poetry at Warren Wilson College in Swannannoa, NC. Collections of her poems include, The Luck of Being, published by The Backwaters Press, Omaha, in 2008 and The Spinal Sequence by Finishing Line Press, Georgetown, Kentucky in 2013. Individual poems have appeared in literary magazines including Narrative, Shenandoah, Southern Poetry Review, and Poet Lore.


Peter Hitchen MFH (1938--2015)

peter hitchen.vicky moonVicky Moon photo, circa 1980s

Peter Hitchen, MFH, died January 12, 2015 from complications stemming from injuries sustained in a fall in the hunting field a month earlier. He was seventy-six. At the time of his passing, Peter was serving in his twenty-seventh season as Joint-Master of the Potomac Hunt (MD).

Peter was born in England but didn’t start foxhunting until he emigrated to the U.S. in 1962. After settling in the Washington, D.C. area, Peter was introduced to the sport by a friend. He also met his bride-to-be, Nancy Tilton Orme of Leesburg, Virginia, who also encouraged his involvement with hunting to hounds at The Loudoun Hunt.

From that time on, Peter never let anything interfere with his maturing love of and passion for foxhunting. After many seasons of whipping-in at the New Market/Middletown Valley Hounds (MD) and later at The Potomac Hunt, Peter joined Irvin L. (Skip) Crawford as Joint-Master of Potomac in 1987. With huntsman, Larry Pitts, they oversaw the development of what is unquestionably one of the premier packs of American foxhounds in the United States, giving good sport to their members and garnering championships and grand championships at the hound shows year after year.

Hunt Reports

Ballymacad Foxhounds at The Hurler's Rest

ballymacad1Ballymacad huntsman Kevin Donohoe with hounds at Archerstown. Following (l-r) are whippers-in Bobby Kellett, Maurice Quinn, and Irish MFHA trainee Keith Broderick.  / Noel Mullins photo

There is a rich history of hunting in County Meath, Ireland. The Sherbourne family kept a pack at Loughcrew, and the Ballymacad Foxhounds were founded there in 1797.

The Ice Age of 30,000 years ago made a massive contribution to foxhunting in the Ballymacad hunt country. The countryside is made up of drumlins, small tear drop-shaped hills such as found in the Carolinas in the U.S. Many are covered in gorse, and despite the weather if one looks underneath the cover there is always a snug dry base, which makes them natural homes for foxes. Add to that the small bogs and hazel woods and you have variety. Foxes don’t have far to travel, and prying eyes are easily avoided.

To hunt foxes successfully in this country, hounds need to be true to the line to reduce their opportunities of going to ground too quickly. The country is challenging; one needs a horse that can jump walls, wire, drains, double and single banks, and a rider that can stay on!


The Story of Old Drum

Old Drum, a black and tan foxhound whose bronze effigy stands before the courthouse in Warrensburg, Missouri, inspired an attorney’s closing argument that has endured as one of the most well-known and oft-reproduced tributes to the dog.

old drum1Bronze statue of Old Drum in Warrensburg, Missouri

One crisp October night in 1869, the music of the foxhounds was interrupted by the sound of a gunshot. Charles Burden stepped outside to listen. The hound music continued, but one voice was missing—that of his favorite dog, Drum. The next morning he went to the adjoining farm to call on his brother-in-law, Leonidas Hornsby. Hornsby had lost one hundred sheep to stray dogs and had threatened to shoot the next stray that came on his property. In answer to Burden’s questions, Hornsby claimed that his ward, Dick Ferguson, had shot a load of shelled corn at a black looking dog. The next day Burden found Drum lying dead.

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