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peter walsh gold cup.lees.smallPeter Walsh (number 7) in the Swan Lakes Stakes, 1993 Virginia Gold Cup Races. Lonesome Glory (white blaze, Blythe Miller up) went on to win the race and capture his second Eclipse award that year.  /   Douglas Lees photo

In 2014, Peter Walsh, ex-steeplechase jock, served as Field Master and hunted with both the Piedmont Fox Hounds and the Orange County Hounds, neighboring packs in Virginia. He was hunting five days a week and working as Farm Manager for Milton Sender, a field member of both packs. In the off-season, he played golf avidly.

Today, Peter Walsh is still hunting with both packs, still managing the farm, and still playing golf avidly. It would almost seem as if nothing had changed...except that between then and now, Peter lost his right arm.

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peter walsh gold cup.lees.smallPeter Walsh (number 7) in the Swan Lakes Stakes, 1993 Virginia Gold Cup Races. Lonesome Glory (white blaze, Blythe Miller up) went on to win the race and capture his second Eclipse award that year.  /   Douglas Lees photo

In 2014, Peter Walsh, ex-steeplechase jock, served as Field Master and hunted with both the Piedmont Fox Hounds and the Orange County Hounds, neighboring packs in Virginia. He was hunting five days a week and working as Farm Manager for Milton Sender, a field member of both packs. In the off-season, he played golf avidly.

Today, Peter Walsh is still hunting with both packs, still managing the farm, and still playing golf avidly. It would almost seem as if nothing had changed...except that between then and now, Peter lost his right arm.

Peter remembers little of that horrendous day in February, 2014. He was hunting at the Deep Run Hunt (VA), on a relatively green horse when the horse’s bridle broke. The horse panicked and galloped blindly into the nearby woods. Peter had no way of checking or controlling the runaway; he just tried to stay on. Riders that followed to help discovered him lying unconscious and bleeding near a broken tree.

He was air-lifted to the Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center in Richmond where his injuries were tallied: a broken neck, broken jaw, thirty broken or fractured bones (including fourteen ribs), nerves mashed. He was in surgery for hours, in the hospital for two weeks, another week in rehab, and more than two more months at the MedStar Washington Hospital Center to continue recovery from severe head trauma. Months later, after his discharge, he still walked about in a body brace, neck brace, and sling for his right arm.

Fortunately, the broken neck didn’t result in paralysis, but the nerves controlling his right arm had been damaged so severely that, as the months passed and the healing process continued, he never did recover the use of it. By last season, he had already returned to the Piedmont and Orange County hunting fields. He rode one-handed, right arm strapped  to his body because it wasn’t serving him. So in January of this year, Peter decided to have the arm removed.

At his core, Peter is a superb athlete. Born in Dublin, Ireland, he followed a career as a steeplechase rider. He competed in big races in Ireland, England, and America, including the Grand National Steeplechase at Aintree. He moved to the U.S. in 1985 and met his wife-to-be Haley in Unionville, Pennsylvania where she was working with horses in the farm across the road. Peter moved to the Middleburg area in 1985 and continued racing, married Haley in 1990, and is now the father of three college kids, Hayden, the oldest, and twins Emma and Liam. He retired from racing in 1999 and took over the management of Sender’s farm and along with it the responsibility of procuring and training a stable of field hunters sufficient for both men to hunt with both packs. Which they did, until that dreadful day.

peter walsh at piedmont2.leesPeter (foreground) hunting with Piedmont in 2015. /  Douglas Lees photo

Weeks and months of recuperation and rehabilitation followed, accompanied by pain and uncertainty. But his progress was unquestionably accelerated by the fitness and athleticism he brought to the ordeal. As Peter resumed most of his former activities, he kept wondering how he could play golf again. In an early rehab session back in 2014, his local physical therapist, Del Wilson, also an enthusiastic golfer, put a putter in Peter’s hand. He placed a gadget on the floor representing the cup, which automatically returns the ball to the putter if it goes in. To Wilson’s amazement, Peter kept putting it in the cup, one-handed. That got Peter thinking that, perhaps, he could play golf again.

Wilson connected Peter with Mark Guttenberg, a PGA of America professional at the Raspberry Golf Academy at Bull Run Golf Club in Haymarket, Virginia. Guttenburg had experience working with disabled golfers, especially military veteran amputees. Guttenburg changed Peter’s equipment, changed his swing, and gave him lessons.

Before the accident, Peter’s golfing handicap was eight. He’s already got it down to twenty, and he’s working it down. He can drive the ball 150 yards, and he has moved back to the senior tees. His friends are still teeing off behind him, and they tease him some, but that’s OK with him. He’s playing, he’s improving, and he’s loving it.

“He's an Irish steeplechase jockey,” said Haley to Leonard Shapiro, writing for Golf Digest. “He's not afraid of anything.”

Posted September 17, 2016

A similar article recently appeared in Golf Digest.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

spencer allen crop smallHuntsman Spencer Allen / Douglas Lees photo

Huntsman Spencer Allen has gone through a rocky time in the past couple of years. He’s been forced to consider other options for his future, but he knows in his heart what he loves the most—working with and hunting foxhounds. And this is why he’s so happy to be in Monticello, Florida at Marty and Daphne Wood’s unparalleled establishment as huntsman for the Live Oak Hounds.

After serving six years in the Marine Corps, including a tour in Iraq, Allen began as an amateur whipper-in at the Bull Run Hunt (VA). Two seasons later he turned professional and moved to the Piedmont Fox Hounds (VA), serving four seasons as first whipper-in to huntsman Richard Roberts. Allen found himself working with a talented and attractive whipper-in, Rachel Gray, who also happened to be the daughter of the previous huntsman, Butch Gray. Spencer and Rachel were married, and in 2010 Spencer was named huntsman at Piedmont. He hunted the Piedmont hounds for five seasons, showing excellent sport, but trouble followed.

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marty woodkleckcropC. Martin Wood, III, MFH / Nancy Kleck photoFoxhounds weren’t the only newsmakers at the Virginia Foxhound Show. A few people were worth noting as well!

Huntsmen’s Room
Three individuals were introduced for induction into the Huntsmen’s Room of the Museum of Hounds and Hunting in ceremonies on Saturday evening. Before dinner under the tent, Jake Carle, ex-MFH, spoke eloquently, reverently, and at the right times humorously about the three men who have hunted hounds with distinction for many years: C. Martin Wood, III, MFH, Live Oak Hounds (FL), G. Marvin Beeman, MFH, Arapaho Hunt (CO), and the late Jim Atkins who hunted hounds for the Piedmont Fox Hounds, Old Dominion Hounds, and the Warrenton Hunt, all in Virginia.

marvin beeman  jim atkins2
G. Marvin Beeman, MFH                    Huntsman Jim Atkins

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fort leavenworth vixenFort Leavenworth Vixen, Grand Champion of Show, handled by Stephanie Wilcox Carter, MFH and huntsman. Judge Vincent Tartaglia is standing (middle). /  Angela Fain photo

Last year was the boys’ year. This year the Crossbred female, Fort Leavenworth Vixen 2013, evened the score with her littermate Valor by winning the Grand Championship at the Central States Hound Show.

Vixen is a speckled, mostly white tricolor by Brazos Valley Baxter ‘08 out of Fort Leavenworth Piper ‘07. American and Crossbred bloodlines are predominantly from Fort Leavenworth Hunt (KS), Brazos Valley Hounds (TX), and the Piedmont Fox Hounds (VA). The most recent contribution of pure English blood to this lovely Crossbred was from the Arapahoe Hunt kennels (CO), three generations back.

Stephanie Wilcox Carter, MFH and huntsman of the Fort Leavenworth pack describes Vixen as conformationally correct, happy, and unflappable.

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myopia gammell.headdon.nature of light photogMyopia Gammell '12, a proud son of Potomac Jefferson '05, shown by huntsman Philip Headdon, was judged Grand Champion of the 2016 New England Hound Show. / Photo by Nature of Light Photography

Myopia Gammell 2012 is the second foxhound this season carrying the blood of the inimitable Potomac Jefferson to be named a Grand Champion of Show, this at the New England Hound Show held on Sunday, May 1, 2016.

Gammell was bred by now-retired huntsman Larry Pitts at Potomac, and drafted unentered to huntsman Tony Gammell at the Keswick Hunt (VA) in exchange for another breeding. Tony in turn drafted the still unentered pup to his pal, Brian Kiely, then huntsman at the Myopia Hunt (MA), who named the hound for Tony. Brian, of course, is now huntsman at Potomac, so that completes another circle, entirely!

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