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Foxhunting Life with Horse and Hound

 

 

Piedmont Fox Hounds


Thoughts on Field Hunter Competitions
Norm Fine's Blog

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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Piedmont Pair Are 2014 Field Hunter Champions in Virginia
Horses
Written by Susan Monticelli   

nafhc.ch1Laurie Ambrose and Stretch from the Piedmont Fox Hounds won the 2014 Mrs. Theodora A. Randolph Field Hunter Championship. / Douglas lees photo

In a hark back to bygone days, the Theodora A. Randolph Field Hunter Championships combine a whirlwind week of foxhunting and socializing against a backdrop of sporting estates, well-bred foxhounds, and passionate foxhunters. Always held the last week of September and ending the first weekend of October, this year's event attracted seventy-four entries with a brilliant card of hosting hunts: Orange County Hounds, Blue Ridge Hunt, Loudoun Fairfax Hunt and the Piedmont Foxhounds. Judges ride alongside the field to observe the competitors in action before selecting several riders each day, based on how well their horses performed, for the finals on Saturday. Every hunt hosted a tailgate, and there were social functions every evening.

Foxhunters from twenty-two hunts and eight states rode in the event: Andrews Bridge, Belle Meade, Blue Ridge, Bull Run, Casanova, Deep Run, Elkridge-Harford , Farmington, Glenmore, Hillsboro, Keswick, Loudoun Fairfax, Lowcountry, Middleburg, Newmarket-Middletown Valley, Old Dominion, Orange County, Palm Beach, Piedmont, Snickersville, Warrenton, and Whiskey Road. Riders came from Florida, Georgia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia. The six judges were Helen Brettell, Middleburg; Snowden Clark; Liz McKnight, ex-MFH, Elkridge-Harford; Ginny Perrin, MFH, Deep Run, and the husband-and-wife team of Lincoln Sadler and Cameron Sadler, MFH, Moore County.

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Live Oak Charter Still at Large; Posse Closes In
Latest
Written by Norman Fine   

 

The latest report on the one Live Oak foxhound still on the lam is that he has made an art of his early retirement. Daphne Wood, MFH reports that Charter is alive and well, though thin. It turns out that the kind kitchen employees at the Middleburg Tennis Club on Zulla Road have been putting out kitchen scraps for him. The good news is that this regular source of food has probably kept him safe from roaming and crossing roads, but it has also made it unnecessary for him to venture into the trap that has been baited to secure him.

With Piedmont huntsman Spencer Allen on vacation, first whipper-in Neil Amatt has been deputized to capture the escapee. The plan is to send Amatt to the kitchen with a Spanish-speaking member of his posse to request that the kitchen scraps be turned over to him for baiting the trap.

Daphne's fondest wish is to now “end this ordeal for all concerned”! She hopes to be soon able to send a concrete expression of her gratitude to Piedmont “to thank them for the endless efforts they continue to make to bring this to a happy ending.”

Posted June 25, 2014

 

 
Neil Morris Is MFH at Orange County
People
Written by Norman Fine   

neilmorris.portrait.leesNeil Morris hunting a stakes-winning hurdle horse at Orange County / Douglas Lees photoNeil Morris is a new Master of the Orange County Hounds (VA). Morris joins current Masters John Coles and Malcolm Matheson in leading this, one of the most prominent hunts in the country.

“I’m so happy to have him,” said Coles. “Neil can do anything in this job that anyone could want. He’s a great guy, a great horseman...he’s made to order ”

Better known perhaps for his association with winning race horses he has trained for Kinross Farm, such as Grade I Stakes winner Sur La Tete; Virginia Gold Cup winner Miles Ahead; and Virginia-bred Researcher with winnings in the seven figures, Morris is at the same time an avid foxhunter. He hunts his steeplechase horses regularly and credits that time off in the field with providing the bottomless stamina his horses so often display on the race course.

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One Missing Hound Safe; One to Go!
Latest
Written by Norman Fine   

 

One of the two unentered Live Oak foxhounds that were spooked upon their arrival at Morven Park for the Virginia Foxhound Show last May has been recovered. Perfect, who never left the Morven Park area, was finally secured in a box dog trap.

Her companion in flight, Charter, has been more adventurous in his travels. He has been seen on Zulla Road in Middleburg, and Piedmont huntsman Spencer Allen has been feeding him but hasn’t yet secured him. So long as Charter stays off the busy roads, chances are he will soon be in good hands as well.

A much-relieved Daphne Wood, MFH, Live Oak Hounds (FL), has expressed her gratitude to the Morven Park staff, retired huntsman Kevin Palmer, Piedmont MFH Tad Zimmerman, and Piedmont huntsman Spencer Allen for their continued efforts on behalf of these young hounds.

Posted June 11, 2014

 

 
Timber Horses Romp at Piedmont
Horses
Written by Norman Fine   

piedmont14.open timberRunning for the Rokeby Bowl are (l-r) winner Dakota Slew (Robert Walsh up) and Zulla Road (Woods Winants up). / Douglas Lees photo

Virginia point-to-point fans were treated to a full weekend of racing on March 22 and 23, 2014. The Piedmont Fox Hounds Point-to-Point went off as scheduled on Saturday and the Blue Ridge Hunt races, postponed from their original date, were held on Sunday. In a spirit of cooperation, races over fences were split so that Piedmont ran timber races and Blue Ridge ran just hurdle (brush) races, thus assuring a good field of entries for each specialty.

In the Open Timber Race, Zulla Road (Woods Winants up) set the pace for the first mile, but Dakota Slew ridden by Robert Walsh took control from there to the wire. Skunked ran a strong second, but Dakota Slew in prevailing notched his second consecutive Rokeby Bowl win. Dakota Slew is owned by Magalen Bryant and trained by Richard Valentine. Ms. Bryant shared last season’s Virginia Leading Owner title with Pennsylvanian Irvin Naylor. Although Winants pulled up Zulla Road in that race, the fourth on the card, he had earlier shown his 2013 Virginia Leading Rider form by winning the first two races of the day, Maiden Timber and Amateur Highweight Timber.

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