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piedmont16.opentimber.portrait.leesAt the finish Dakota Slew (Mark Beecher up in solid blue cap) holds off Drift Society (Connor Hankin) for a third consecutive Open Timber win at Piedmont. /  Douglas Lees photo

The Open Timber course at Piedmont on Saturday, March 26th, was a happy hunting ground once again for Dakota Slew. Ridden this year by Mark Beecher, the brown gelding captured his third Open Timber Race in as many years over the Piedmont course for owner Magalen Bryant who took home the Rokeby Bowl yet again. He moved patiently up to first by the last fence and held off a hard challenge by Drift Society in the stretch to win by a neck. The Richard Valentine-trained Dakota Slew was the Leading Timber Horse in Virginia in 2015.

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joe whited.Michelle OHanlon ArnoldJoe Whited (right) and the author in the Old Dominion field  /   Michelle OHanlon Arnold photo

A foxhunter and conservationist with an impressive background in foreign affairs is seeking the Republican nomination for Virginia's Fifth Congressional District seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Joe Whited, thirty-six, has mounted a campaign for the Republican nomination, one of four vying for the seat being vacated by Representative Robert Hurt (R). Whited wears the colors of the Old Dominion Hounds (VA) and helps run the club's annual point-to-point. His first race, however, will be purely political—the Republican primary in April.

Virginia’s Fifth District is the Commonwealth’s largest. The pie-shaped wedge includes much of Virginia hunt country, including territory of Piedmont, Orange County, Warrenton, Casanova, Old Dominion, Rappahannock, Thornton Hill-Fort Valley, Bull Run, Keswick, Farmington, Deep Run, Oak Ridge, Stonewall, Bedford, and Red Oak in Virginia, just north of Sedgefield and Red Mountain in North Carolina.

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zimmerman.bonnie.ryan.piedmontPiedmont Masters Shelby Bonnie (center), Tad Zimmerman (left), and Gregg Ryan (right ) /  Douglas Lees photo

Shelby Bonnie has ridden to hounds most of his life, especially with the Piedmont Fox Hounds (VA), known worldwide for fast runs and plentiful jumping. The pace is swift and the fences are stout.

Bonnie divides his time between his home in San Francisco, California and his Oakley Farm in Upperville, Virginia, home of the Upperville Horse Show grounds and the Piedmont Point-to-Point Races. Bonnie spent quality time during his formative years at Oakley in the company of his grandmother, Theodora A. Randolph, legendary Piedmont Master. Even after Mrs. Randolph stopped riding, she continued to run the farm and the hunt until her passing in 1996 at the age of ninety.

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JNAFHC2015.heatherjumpHeather Feconda, Loudoun-Fairfax Hunt (VA), was Champion, 13 & Over, on Yogi. /  Richard Clay photo

The Junior North American Field Hunter Championship competition that began modestly twelve years ago between a handful of geographically-close Virginia hunts continues to expand in scope. This year’s competition involved juniors from twenty-seven hunts located across six MFHA Districts.

The program is succeeding because it’s purpose rises above just competition. Founders Douglas Wise, MFH, Old Dominion Hounds and Iona Pillion from the Blue Ridge Hunt had a larger dream: bring children to new hunting countries and open their eyes to the fact that these playgrounds don’t just happen to be there for them by chance, but have been nurtured and conserved for the perpetuation of wildlife, open space, and for those who treasure the natural world.

“We want these kids to know what a conservation easement is,” said Marion Chungo, one of the organizers.

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centralstates15.valor.glen carterFort Leavenworth Valor '13 begins his day at Central States by capturing the English/Crossbred Championship. North Hills Kid Rock, last year's Grand Champion of Show, was Reserve. Huntsman Stephanie Wilcox Carter, MFH shows Valor. Judge Cameron Sadler is standing (right). / Glen Carter photo

Fort Leavenworth Valor ‘13 was crowned Grand Champion Foxhound at both the Southwest Hound Show on April 18, 2015 and the Central States Hound Show on May 2, 2015.

Valor is a fitting name for Fort Leavenworth hounds, tied as the hunt is to that venerable military post in Kansas. Three Fort Leavenworth foxhounds have proudly carried the name, Valor, in the last thirty years!

Southwest Hound Show
Exhibiting hunts at the Southwest Hound Show included Brazos Valley Hounds (TX), Fort Leavenworth Hunt, and Independence Foxhounds (TX). Judges George and Jeanie Thomas, MFHs of the Why Worry Hunt (SC) were impressed by both Valor and the hound show. In a “joint communique” George and Jeanie write, “We like Valor a lot, and he showed the way a champion should. We found him to be a very nice hound with super conformation and correctness. He is a fluid mover and has a lot of power from his lovely hind end.  Although he is not a big hound, he made up for it with his drive and verve. We are looking forward to seeing him in Virginia!”

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open timber2.dakota slew.walsh.leesAt the finish of the Open Timber Race it's Dakota Slew (Robbie Walsh up) 1st, Dr. Alex (Teddy Zimmerman up) 2nd. / Douglas Lees photo

Dakota Slew and Dr. Alex battled for the lead throughout most of the Open Timber race, even jumping the last fence abreast, but at the wire it was Dakota Slew by a length. It was Dakota Slew’s third win in this race under rider Robbie Walsh, thus retiring the Rokeby Bowl for owner Maggie Bryant. Trained by Richard Valentine, Dakota Slew is one of six horses that tied for Leading Timber Horse in Virginia in 2014.

The Valentine-Walsh team scored their second win of the day in the Open Flat Race with Clark Ohrstrom’s Kisser N Run taking the lead from Preachers Pulpit with less than a half-mile to run and winning easily. Kisser N Run was the 2013 Life’s Illusion Filly and Mare champion, and last season's winner of the Atlanta Steeplechase’s Georgia Cup.

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