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Foxhunting Life with Horse and Hound

 

By the Way

If you have downloaded our hunting horn ringtones for your cell phone, be sure to turn the phone to vibrate while hunting! Your Field Master won’t be amused if you forget!

 

Potpourri: Click a Thumbnail and see where it takes you

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Hunt Reports

Consensus at Green Creek: A Barnburner!

tot goodwin.olsenHuntsman Tot Goodwin and the Green Creek Hounds / Erik Olsen photo

It’s always fun to hear a day’s hunting described by different members of the hunt. Years ago I would ask Mrs. A how the day had been, and she would assure me, “They ran and screamed all day.” When Mr. B was queried, he said, “They had a bit of a flurry.” When Mr. C was asked the same question, “They didn’t do a thing.” This past Thursday, however, everyone at Green Creek Hounds (Carolinas) agreed it was a barnburner!

Hounds met at Coxe Road where a few of the young entry thought the deer they saw were worth a go. Puppies were reprimanded, and they hacked obediently through the woods to East Green Creek Road. It was a cool, misty morning with great scenting conditions. This is known as coyote country. Tot sent the pack into covert and allowed them to trail for ten or fifteen minutes, and then they opened. All hounds were on (thirty couple), and the cry was ear-splitting.

Main Dishes

Country Captain

country captain chickenWith the formal hunting season upon us, it’s time to add new hunt breakfast recipes to our collection! The following recipe, sent to us by Bill Getchell, comes with an interesting history and a connection to a famous American foxhunting general and Master of Foxhounds. We have a wonderful resource of recipes (point your cursor to the Social dropdown menu), and we invite your additions.

Country Captain has been a staple of southern cooking since the first half of the nineteenth century. Originating in India, the name may be a corruption of Country “Capon.” Legend has it that a British sea captain in the spice trade brought it to the United States through the ports of Savannah and Charleston.

Mary (“Miss Mamie”) Bullard of Columbus, Georgia revived the recipe for her frequent guest, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and later served it up for Army officers passing through nearby Fort Benning, including the Master of the Cobbler Hunt, General George S. Patton. In the early days of World War II, Patton sent a message to the Bullards: “If you can’t give me a party and have Country Captain, meet me at the train with a bucket of it.” In Patton’s honor the U.S. Army added it to the Meal, Ready-to-Eat (“MREs”) rations in 2000.

Hunt Reports

See You at Second Horses

This hunt report—a short but informative excerpt from Chapter 3 of Barclay Rive’s new book, See You at Second Horses—harks back fifteen years to when Barclay accompanied Rosie and Grosvenor Merle-Smith to England. The book recounts their hunting adventures during that trip and is available from Horse Country Saddlery, Warrenton, Virginia.

At the time, Grosvenor was Master and huntsman of the Bull Run Hunt (VA), and Barclay whipped-in to him. Barclay also whipped-in to the Keswick Hunt (VA)—sometimes to both hunts on the same day when Keswick met in the morning and Bull Run in the afternoon!

barclay rives.fernie meet.rosie merle-smithThe author on Bruno at the Fernie meet at Billesdon / Rosie Merle-Smith photo

Julie and Colin brought our horses down the ramp out of the box. We had our first experience of what became a familiar routine: stepping up the ramp and using it as a mounting block for the horse led up beside it. I usually had to shorten my stirrups. Colin had to hold on to the horse’s head until I was done, because they were ready to go as soon as they felt weight in the saddle. Julie gave me instructions as I mounted a big bay.

“This is Bruno. He prefers a longer rein to a shorter one. He hunts with the Fernie every Saturday, so he knows his job.” This was her diplomatic way of telling me to stay off of the horse’s mouth and let him take care of me. I thought Bruno looked like he should be pulling a cart, but I was ignorant. He was a brilliant field hunter. An excellent teacher, Bruno was what American horse dealers call a packer, meaning he could pack me around as if I were a sack of grain. He was calm at checks, but ready to run and jump when the need arose. Sporting author Michael Clayton in Endangered Species reports that English foxhunters say the ideal hunting horse should have “the head of a duchess and the arse of a cook.” Bruno had plenty of muscle behind, and while his head was hardly elegant, he possessed beautiful brains.

Grosvenor, Rosie and I headed down the road where hounds had gone. Julie called to us, “See you at Second Horses.”

Travel

Hedge-Hopping in England

My top moment of any Blackthorn & Brook holiday comes as our guests pull up after a run having encountered their first hedge. They make a fuss of their horse, turn to me and grin.

“I see what you mean about sitting up!” is a recurring comment.

Hedge-hopping is a much discussed feature of our holidays. The subject is met with excitement, trepidation, anticipation, fear, bravado, and everything in between, as it really is an unknown quantity for the majority of our American guests.

With this in mind, we have put together a short video and accompanying blog below, explaining a little of how we prepare ourselves and our horses for popping the hedges in style. What follows is a collection of basic principles that work for us. If anyone has questions or comments—challenges, improvements, ideas—we'd love to hear from you.

Norm Fine's Blog

Thoughts on Field Hunter Competitions

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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