Foxhunting Life with Horse and Hound



A Celebration of Janet Hitchen's Life Is Scheduled


A celebration of the life of photographer Janet Hitchen will be held on Friday, April 17, 2015 at Farmer's Delight, 36276 Mountville Road, Middleburg, Virginia from noon to 2:00 pm. The invitation says, "Rain or shine, Come as you are. All of her friends are welcome!"

Janet died at her home near Millwood, Virginia on Tuesday evening, March 24, 2015. Click for Foxhunting Life's tribute to Janet, published March 27. Posted April 9, 2015

Horsey Sweet Briar College Sued Over Closure


For 114 years Sweet Briar College has represented a storybook version of the college experience for women, especially women who love horses. In 2015, Sweet Briar was recognized by U.S. News & World Report as the 116th “Best Liberal Arts College” in the nation.  

Lying in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains near Lynchburg, Virginia, and housed in Colonial Revival-style red brick white-columned buildings on a lush, green campus, the institution was famed for its equestrian programs, including foxhunting, showing, and equitation. Its competitive teams have amassed an unsurpassed record of national championships in every discipline.

But students, faculty, and alumnae were shocked just last month by the surprise announcement by the president and the Board of Directors that the college would be closed forever this summer for financial reasons.

On Monday, March 30, 2015, a lawsuit was filed on behalf of the Commonwealth of Virginia to prevent the closure. The suit charges that closure would violate the terms of the will under which the school was founded, and also charges misuse of charitable funds. According to the Washington Post, county attorney Ellen Bowyer claims that college officials appear to be preparing to sell assets, destroy documents and “obliterate contractual relationships governing tenancies and endowments.”

An alumnae group, Saving Sweet Briar, has been formed and has already raised three million dollars to fight the closure, all the while representatives from an array of other colleges have set up booths in the school gym to persuade students to their institutions.

A New York Times article quotes Tracy Stuart, a real estate agent in Martha’s Vineyard who graduated in 1993 and helped found the Saving Sweet Briar group. “Something doesn’t smell right,” Stuart reportedly said. “You just don’t close a college like that without warning.”

Click for the complete articles in the Washington Post and the New York Times.

Posted April 1, 2015

Blanford's Fox: Yet Another Species


blanfords fox

Little is known about Blanford’s Fox (vulpes cana), a mini-fox that lives in the mountainous deserts and steep, rocky slopes of the United Arab Emirates, parts of Iran, and Afghanistan. The secretive, rarely-seen animal was recently photographed by a motion-sensitive camera—the first photo of this fox in its natural, mountain habitat in the UAE.

Blanford’s fox seems to be a textbook example of a creature shaped over time by natural selection. Weighing between 0.8 to 1.5kg, they are characterized by their diminutive size and spectacular ears. Said to be the world’s second smallest fox, those magnificent ears play an important role in their ability to withstand the heat of the area by providing a large area from which body heat is radiated, thus cooling the little fellows.

The species are excellent tree-climbers, having sharp, curved claws and hairless pads for traction. Their long, bushy tails serve as a counterbalance when negotiating tree limbs. Their diet consists of insects, small mammals, and fruit, the high water content of which enables the fox to survive for days at a time without water.

Blanford’s Foxes are monogamous, taking only one partner during their lifetime. The vixen gives birth to one to three cubs, usually in March or April.
Click for more details in Naser Al Wasmi’s article in The National (UAE).

Posted March 30, 2015

Radnor Huntsman John Dean Breaks Leg


john dean2.daria killingerRadnor huntsman Johnny Dean / Daria Killinger photoTuesday, March 17, 2015, Radnor huntsman John “Johnny” Dean III slipped at the mounting block just prior to moving off with hounds from the kennel, and suffered a broken leg.

Stevie Hayes, former huntsman of the Bellwood Hunt and occasional whipper-in at Radnor, saved the day’s hunting by stepping in for Dean. Hayes is well-known in hunting and showing circles in the area. Sherry Robertson reported that Hayes was amazed at how well hounds hunted for him on a moment’s notice, and praised Dean for the wonderful job he’s done to allow someone else to pick up the pack and go hunting.

Johnny Dean is the third generation in his family to be huntsman for the Radnor Hunt (PA). Before taking up the horn at the beginning of the season, Dean had been first whipper-in for two seasons.  

“[Dean's] grandfather, Bob "Reds" Wilson, was huntsman in the 1980s," said Collin McNeil, MFH. "Johnny's dad, also John Dean, helped us out for the 2013-14 season when Joe Cassidy was sick. Johnny has been renewed for the huntsman position for next year. He has done a remarkable job with the hounds and has shown us very good sport. Johnny's son, Sonny Dean—a fourth-generation Dean—is whipping-in, and will be attending the MFHA Professional Development program this summer.”

Dean was scheduled for surgery the following day at Paoli Hospital in Pennsylvania.

Posted March 20, 2015

Summer Movies, Concerts at National Sporting Library and Museum


The National Sporting Library & Museum (NSLM) in Middleburg, Virginia has announced a summer program of free movies and concerts, with Museum galleries remaining open during the events. Movies are shown on Saturday afternoons from March to December 12. Concerts will take place every fourth Friday from April through September.

The summer series features popular sporting movies, regional musical performers, craft beers, and local wineries. Guests are invited to stroll through the Art Museum to enjoy changing exhibitions and permanent collections or to spread out picnic blankets and lawn chairs for the open-air concert. During the Open Late events, the Museum will be open until 8:00 p.m.
Library and Museum facilities will also remain open late on the first Friday of April, May, June, July, August and September. Melanie Mathewes, Executive Director of the National Sporting Library & Museum explained, “We’re very excited to announce that this year, on the first Friday of April, May, June, July, August and September, our facilities and our campus will be open late to allow the public to visit and enjoy our treasures. We’ve planned these events with young families in mind and with the hope that those passing through Middleburg after work will join us.”
Open Late is free and open to the public; picnics are welcome and a cash bar will be available. Events will be held rain or shine, and no outside alcohol will be permitted on premises.

Movie Calendar
Movies will be shown free of charge in the Library’s Founder’s Room at 1:00 pm. Popcorn Monkey of Middleburg will sell popcorn onsite to accompany the films.

March 14 - War Horse
April 11 - International Velvet
May 9 - Into the West
June 13 - Black Beauty
July 11 - A River Runs Through It
August 8 - Running Free
October 10 - The Black Stallion
November 14 - Secretariat
December 12 - Sylvester

Open Late Concert Calendar
Concerts are free and open to the public; picnics are welcome; and a cash bar will be available. Events will be held rain or shine, and no outside alcohol will be permitted on premises.

April 24 - Middleburg Hunt Point-to-Point Night
Difficult Run Jazz Band
South Street Brewing | Three Fox Vineyards
May 22
Tara Mills Band
3 Brothers Brewing | Naked Mountain Winery
June 26 - Virginia Tech Alumni Night
Piedmont Symphony Orchestra
Forge Brew Works | Cana Winery
July 24 - George Mason Alumni Night
George Mason University Jazz Ensemble
Hardywood Park Craft Brewery | Otium Winery
August 28
Reckless Island
Mad Fox Brewing Company | Boxwood Winery
September 25 - Friends and Family Night
Foxcroft School, The Hill School,
Middleburg Academy, Middleburg Community
Charter School, and Wakefield School
Lisa Lim Band
Legend Brewing | Market Salamander

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 hunting, angling, equestrianism and horseracing, among others. The Library collection dates from the 16th-21st 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.
Regular Museum Hours: Wednesday - Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sunday 1 p.m. to 5 p.m

Posted march 18, 2015

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