Foxhunting Life with Horse and Hound



Rachel Gray, Whipper-In, Former Jockey, Killed in Motorcycle Accident


rachel grayDouglas Lees photoRachel Lynne Gray, 31, died early Thursday morning, June 25, 2015, at the scene of a motorcycle accident around midnight.

Born in Warrenton, Virginia, Rachel was a skilled horsewoman. She whipped-in to her husband, Spencer Allen, huntsman of the Piedmont Fox Hounds (VA), and she was a former jockey at Charles Town and other racetracks.

She is survived by her parents—her father, Butch Gray, is a former Piedmont huntsman—three children, four sisters, and extended family and friends.

A celebration of her life will be held on Wednesday, July 1, 2015 at 12 pm at Trinity Episcopal Church in Upperville. Interment to follow at Bright View Cemetery, Warrenton, with a reception from 3-6 pm at Black Horse Inn.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to a Memorial Fund for the benefit of her children. Details to follow.

Click for more information provided by the Moser Funeral Home.

Posted June 29, 2015

Scientists Claim Thoroughbreds Are Running Faster


For the past thirty years, conventional wisdom has held that horses have attained their maximum speed. Now, researchers at the University of Exeter in England claim that racehorses are running faster.

Looking at data from more than 616,000 races run by more than 70,000 horses, these scientists have found the winning speeds greatly improved, particularly over the shorter distances.

The big question, according to a professor at Exeter is whether the improvement is a result of breeding or technical changes. In the early 1900s, the speed of horses improved when jockeys shortened their stirrups and got out of the saddle. Speed improved again in the 1970s and 1980s when jockeys shortened their stirrups still further.

How now to evaluate the effects of improved vet care, better draining of track surfaces, and hi-tech track surfaces that absorb energy from the horse’s footfalls and return a portion of that energy back to the horse in springiness?

Click for more details in the complete article.

Posted June 26, 2015

Cleveland Bays Bring Real Field Hunters to Upperville


If you want to see real field hunters at the Upperville Horse Show, the Cleveland Bay Hunter Division is for you. More than twenty-five percent of the entries in that division have seen service in the hunting field. Another twenty-five percent or so of the Cleveland Bay entries are still too young for the field, and will compete in the in-hand classes.

The Cleveland Bay Hunter Division will be held on Thursday afternoon in the Main Hunter Ring, immediately following the Adult Amateur Classic. The classes could begin as early as 1:30 pm.

There are about thirty entries in the division, eleven of those being purebreds. Anyone interested in the breed is encouraged to come, Upperville being the single most important showcase for the breed in North America.

The Cleveland Bay is said to be England’s oldest breed of horse. As the name suggests, the breed originated in the Cleveland region of the northeastern part of that country. Descendant mares of the so-called Chapman horses—pack horses bred by the monks at the monasteries in the Middle Ages—were crossed in the mid-seventeenth century with imported barb stallions for both pack and harness use. The Chapmans were the foundation mares of the Cleveland Bays.

In the eighteenth century, these useful Chapman-barb crosses were crossed with Thoroughbreds to increase their speed under harness. The resulting crosses became known as the Yorkshire Coach Horse—tall, elegant, and a favorite of royalty and the well-to-do. We know these horses today as the Cleveland Bay.

Always bay in color, the Cleveland Bay is intelligent, versatile, sensible, bold, and honest. Because it has a strong character coupled with a sensitive temperament, it can be ruined by insensitive handling early in its schooling.

The Cleveland Bay breeds true to type (reproduces with consistency), and with its good substance and free movement, makes an excellent cross with the Thoroughbred.

Cleveland Bay enthusiasts will host tailgate refreshments in the parking area immediately following the classes—a good opportunity for anyone interested in learning more about this breed to meet owners and breeders.

Posted June 3, 2015

Janet Hitchen Estate Sale Scheduled


Items from the estate of Janet Hitchen will be available for purchase at her home, 102 Tilthammer Mill Road, Boyce, Virginia 22626 from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm, Friday and Saturday, June 12 and 13, 2015. Items to be sold include garden art, birdhouses, metal art, old country worktable, hand painted screen, unique chests, chairs, tables, lamps, paintings, and, of course, Janet’s sporting photographs.

Posted June 1, 2015

Dr. Jock Tate Is New Master at Moore County


The Moore County Hounds (NC) has announced the appointment of Dr. Jock Tate as a new Master of the hunt. Jock, a veterinarian, has been a member of Moore County for more than a half century. He was awarded his colors back in 1959 by Pappy and Ginnie Moss, the hunt’s founders.

Jock is described as a consummate horseman who has been involved in equine activities both personally and professionally. On a personal level he has excelled in many areas, including receiving the AHSA high score second year hunter 1969, twenty-two championships or reserve championships, and in the 1970s he trained winning race horses. Professionally, he has spent his entire adult life dedicated to equine medicine. He began at the University of Pennsylvania where he was a surgery instructor and lecturer, and in 1982 he moved to NCSU College of Veterinary Medicine where he is a Full Professor. Over the years he has received numerous honors, published many papers, and successfully obtained grants for research in the field of equine medicine.

According to the hunt’s press release, Jock’s long history with and support of the Moore County Hounds, along with his dedication to the preservation of foxhunting and equine sports in general, make him an ideal choice for Master. Dr. Tate joins current Masters Dick Webb (1961), Mrs. Cameron Sadler (2003), Mrs. M. Nixon Ellis (2009), Michael Russell (2009), and David Carter (2014) in the Mastership.

Moore County hunts the fox and coyote with Penn-Marydel foxhounds mostly in the fabulous Walthour-Moss Foundation, a natural paradise for both wildlife and horsemen encompassing more than four thousand acres in the Sandhills of North Carolina and established by hunt founders Pappy and Ginnie Moss.

Posted May 17, 2015

Vaccinate Horses Now, Recommends VDACS


Mosquito season will begin soon in Virginia and has already begun in some areas. That means it’s time to start thinking about vaccinating your horses against mosquito-borne illnesses such as West Nile Virus (WNV) and Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE). Rabies is not a mosquito-borne disease, but it’s a fatal disease that also requires an annual vaccination.

The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) urges all horse owners to check with their veterinarians for vaccination recommendations for their animals. Virginia only had one confirmed case of WNV (Augusta County) and one of EEE (Suffolk) in 2014, although many other states had a much higher incidence of cases.

“Timely vaccination has been shown to decrease WNV and EEE disease incidence drastically,” said Dr. Richard Wilkes, State Veterinarian at VDACS. “Without vaccination, we would expect to see many more infected horses, so we still urge horse owners to consider EEE and WNV vaccination. We believe that in most cases, private veterinarians will recommend them for their clients.”

Vaccines are effective for six to twelve months, so horses should be re-vaccinated at least annually. In areas where the disease occurs frequently, most veterinarians recommend vaccination every six months. For the vaccine to be effective it must be handled and administered properly and be given at least two weeks before the horse is exposed to the virus. Also, to stimulate full immunity, horses must be vaccinated twice, about thirty days apart, the first year they are vaccinated. Other prevention methods include destroying standing water breeding sites for mosquitoes, using insect repellents and removing animals from mosquito-infested areas during peak biting times, usually dusk to dawn. 

Dr. Wilkes also suggests that owners check about rabies vaccinations for their horses. There were no cases of rabies in Virginia horses last year but four each in 2012 and 2013.

Rabies vaccines are also very effective and vaccinating horses annually can prevent rabies in both horses and humans. In addition to taking measures to decrease the likelihood that horses will be exposed to rabies, routine rabies vaccination is a very important aspect of disease prevention.

All three of these diseases–EEE, WNV and rabies--cause neurologic signs in horses, such as staggering, circling, depression, loss of appetite and sometimes fever and blindness. The diseases can kill anywhere from 30 percent (WNV) to 90 percent (EEE) to 100 percent (rabies) of the horses infected.  There is no proven cure for these diseases, but veterinarians can provide supportive therapy to treat symptoms of EEE and WNV and keep horses from injuring themselves. Rabies is always fatal. Humans can become infected with rabies by handling a rabid horse but cannot become infected with EEE or WNV by handling an infected horse, nor can a horse acquire the virus from another infected horse. The presence of an infected horse in the area indicates that mosquitoes carrying EEE or WNV are present, however, and those insects pose a threat to both humans and horses.      

For more information on WNV or EEE, contact the Office of Veterinary Services, Division of Animal Industry Services, VDACS, at 804.786.2483 or see Information about rabies and rabies exposures can be found on the Virginia Department of Health’s Rabies Control page at Horse owners should contact their veterinarians for further advice on prevention, diagnosis and treatment.

Posted May 12, 2015

Lady Masters of Foxhounds: A Round Table Discussion at NSLM


A round table discussion on the challenges faced by lady Masters will be held at the National Sporting Library & Museum, Middleburg, Virginia, on Saturday, May 23, 2015 from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. A panel has been assembled to hold a candid discussion on the topic the day before the Virginia Foxhound Show at Morven Park in nearby Leesburg.

Participating panelists will be MFHs Joyce Fendley, Casanova Hunt (VA); Marion Thorne, Genesee Valley Hunt (NY); Penny Denegre, Middleburg Hunt (VA); Lynne Lloyd, Red Rock Hounds (NV); and Daphne Wood, Live Oak Hounds (FL).

The program will be co-chaired by Penny Denegre and Vivianne Warren from the Orange County Hounds (VA). Dr. John W.D. McDonald, MFH, London Hunt (ON), will moderate.

According to a press release from the NSLM, the discussion will focus on experiences from the field told by women with years of hunting leadership. Provocative questions will be asked that address the challenges of women in a traditionally male role. The program will also explore the history of “Three Legends”—Miss Charlotte Haxall Noland, Mrs. Theodora Ayer Randolph, and Mrs. Nancy Penn Smith Hannum—three women who pioneered the role of Lady Master.
The program begins with refreshments and mingling with panelists, and includes a moderated discussion with time for questions from the audience. Admission is free for NSLM members and $10.00 for non-members.

The National Sporting Library & Museum is dedicated to preserving, promoting and sharing the literature, art and culture of equestrian, angling and field sports. Founded in 1954, NSLM holds thousands of books on sporting topics including foxhunting, angling, equestrianism, and horseracing, among others. The Library collection dates from the sixteenth to twenty-first centuries. The Museum houses exhibits of American and European animal and sporting fine art. Information is shared through exhibitions, lectures, seminars, publications and special events. The NSLM is open to researchers and the general public on Wednesday and Saturday (10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.), and Sunday (1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.).

Posted may 9, 2015

Horse Collides with, Injures Racing Official at Gold Cup


Foxhunter and amateur whipper-in Peter Hitchen was injured while officiating at the Virginia Gold Cup Races at Great Meadow Park, Warrenton, Virginia, Saturday, May 2, 2015. Hitchen, who was on foot, was hit by a racehorse and suffered multiple breaks.

Hitchen was taken to a hospital in Fairfax where the damage was assessed: fourteen broken ribs, collar bone broken in two places, and three broken vertebrae. Surgery was considered, but after a second opinion the decision was made to move him to the Reston Spine Center.

Currently in a cast, Hitchen faces a long recovery. This report will be updated as new information becomes available.

Posted May 7, 2015

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