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Foxhunting Life with Horse and Hound

 

 

Norm Fine's Blog

Beep-Beep...Attempting to Re-Establish Connection...

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On Saturday of Opening Meet---traditionally the last Saturday in October for my hunt---the connection between me and you through Foxhunting Life was temporarily interrupted. Instead of coming home with hounds as I had planned, I detoured to the hospital. The good news is that, despite a fractured sacrum, everything is stable, and no surgery is necessary.

I am currently in rehab and making progress. I want to thank all who have called, emailed, and posted good wishes on Facebook. My heart is warmed by your messages.

Despite the week's hiccup in FHL's editorial schedule---now mostly behind us---we expect to maintain our usual twice-monthly e-mailings of FHL WEEK. My goal is to make this temporary stutter as brief as possible---perhaps even unnoticed by most of you!

Posted November 5, 2014

Thoughts on Field Hunter Competitions

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nafhc14.winnerA competent horse and rider, confidently and comfortably crossing the country: what we all aspire to! Laurie Ambrose and Stretch, winning the Theodora A. Randolph Field Hunter Championship in Virginia.  /  Douglas Lees photo

The recently held Theodora A. Randolph Field Hunter Championship in Virginia is a unique competition. It differs from the more usual one-day hunter trial in which foxhunters ride individually over a course of obstacles, often including lead-overs, trot fences, fast gallops, and hold-hards.

In the Theodora A. Randolph Championship format (see Susan Monticelli’s report in separate article), field hunters are observed by mounted judges for several days during a series of actual foxhunts behind different packs of foxhounds. The judges’ task during these hunts is to select those horse/rider combinations they wish to see in a final day of competition. The finals, held each year at Glenwood Park in Middleburg on the morning of the Virginia Fall Races, consist of a mock hunt following a Field Master over a course of obstacles, and then individual tests similar to those in a hunter trial for the final ten or so selected.

While some avid and capable foxhunters believe that foxhunting is not a competitive sport and decline to participate, and while I can appreciate and respect their view, I also see benefits from these competitions. From one aspect, it’s a great value. If you want a hunting holiday in Virginia, you get to hunt with four different packs for an entry fee of not much more than the cost of a single cap at some of these hunts. And parties all week to boot!

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Remembrance

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.

How Old Hounds Pay Their Keep at Red Rock

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rr.nancy.retired houndWhat to do with the old hounds? / Nancy Stevens-Brown photo

Most hunts are beset by similar problems: what to do with old hounds, how to attract more members, how to pay the bills, how to train staff, how to train young hounds. Lynn Lloyd, MFH and huntsman of the Red Rock Hounds (NV), found that the solution to one problem provided the key to solving several others.

What to Do with Old Hounds
The average hunting life of a hound is perhaps six or seven years. That means it is retired from the pack at age seven or eight. Beyond that age, most hounds start falling behind the pack, lacking the foot and endurance to maintain the pace over a full hunting day.

But with several years of life still remaining for the retired hounds, most hunts are hard-put to expend their limited financial resources to keep and maintain them. And here’s where Lynn Lloyd found a way to turn a burden into an asset.

The Red Rock Hounds and Their Country

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rr.nancy.wild horsesWild horses in Nevada's high desert / Nancy Stevens-Brown photo

I want to tell you about Lynn Lloyd’s Red Rock Hounds and the country they hunt as a short introduction to our feature story, "How Old Hounds Pay Their Keep at Red Rock." In that story you’ll read how Lynn ingeniously transformed her elderly hounds from a burden to an asset! The old hounds pay their way by increasing membership and caps, and they throw off side benefits by helping to train young hounds and staff. And I have to believe that many hunts could do something similar to their own benefit.

The Red Rock foxhounds hunt the coyote over the high desert of Nevada, near Reno, where cowboys in dusty western hats, vests, and chaps lope after hounds in their Western saddles stirrup-to-stirrup with properly attired foxhunters posting to the trot in their English saddles.

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