Fox Hunting Life with Horse and Hound

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Blue Ridge Hunt

BRHButton-80

The Blue Ridge Hunt was organized in 1888, but this gently rolling grassland in the Valley of the Shenandoah echoed to the music of hounds, the huntsman’s horn, and the rhythm of galloping horses long before that time. A youthful George Washington regularly followed the hounds of his friend and employer Thomas, sixth Lord Fairfax nearly three hundred years ago over the very same hills and fields and along the same twists and turns of the Shenandoah River as do the Blue Ridge hounds today.

Website:  www.blueridgehunt.org

amatt and houndsNeil Amatt will hunt hounds at Loudoun Fairfax.Having been a member of many fields in many hunting countries, the huntsman has always been my hero. From the time we mount up and for the few hours that follow, it is the huntsman who is most directly responsible for our day’s sport.

One might well argue that the hounds have something to do with it, and this I grant. But the pack is the product of the huntsman, and, since the level of sport depends on how hounds perform in the field as a pack, it all comes back to the huntsman.

Here’s our annual report on the recent moves of huntsmen Neil Amatt, Martyn Blackmore, Tony Gammell, and Sam Clifton.

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woodley.linda volrathThis oil painting by Linda Volrath is a reminder of the cruel winds and sometimes worse weather that prevailed at the Blue Ridge Hunt point-to-point on that first weekend in March every year. With the new late-April race date, such days on this excellent viewing racecourse are now just a memory...it is sincerely hoped.The Blue Ridge Hunt’s point-to-point course at Woodley has long been one of the favorite venues for race watching as far as view ability of the races are concerned. But the early March date on the Woodley hillside has had an equally long history of unforgettably uncomfortable weather, as Linda Volrath’s wonderful painting reminds us. The hunt’s new April date, which fell this year on Sunday, the 22nd, promises now to substantially improve the comfort aspect of the equation for viewers and participants alike. This year, it was a picture-perfect day for both horses and people, and a new look greeted spectators with vendor and sponsor tents, a food stand, stick pony races for the children, spring temperatures, and blessed sunshine.

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Mouseover image and click play to view the entire sequence.  /   Douglas Lees photoEclipse Award winning photographer Douglas Lees shot this harrowing sequence of Elizabeth Scully when her horse Girlsruletheworld refused near the officials’ stand at the Piedmont Point-to-Point Races on March 24, 2018. The incident occurred nearly in front of Alexandra McKee on Alert N Ready, that pair making an amazing adjustment to avoid a pileup, get over the fence, and finish the race. The sequence is all the more dramatic for Scully’s calm demeanor on her way to the turf contrasted with the electrified expressions on the faces of the officials.

Scully and Girlsruletheworld won the Restricted Young Adult Flat Race at the Blue Ridge Point-to-Point in 2016 and were a competitive combination in the 2017 Lady Rider Timber point-to-points. McKee is a past winner of the Grand National Steeplechase on Narrow River in 2003 and placed second in the 2004 Maryland Hunt Cup behind Blair Waterman on Bug River.

Lees used a Nikon D5 camera body with a Nikon 70-200 mm lens for the shots.

Posted April 22, 2018

Virtually very coop, bridge, landmark, or covert in the Belle Meade Hunt foxhunting country (GA) has a name, so that huntsman, mounted whippers-in, and road whips can accurately and concisely communicate where the action is by radio. What does this have to do with the late Major Kindersley, MFH of Ontario's Eglinton Caledon Hunt? Only that one of the coops very often in the middle of the hunting action is named “Major Kindersley’s Coop,” and virtually everyone who has hunted at Belle Meade is familiar with the name. Here's the Major's story.

major charles kindersley

In 1919, George Beardmore, MFH of the Toronto and North Hunt (ON), bought the old World War I aerodrome land on Avenue Road and Eglinton Avenue for the purpose of setting up a riding establishment, including a drag pack. Most of the Toronto and North York members lived in Toronto and travelled the twenty-five miles to the kennels in Aurora only on weekends. These new facilities gave members the opportunity to ride during the week, hunt with the drag pack, and still keep up with their day’s work at the office. Over the years that pack became known as the Eglinton Hunt. Between the wars, the Eglinton Hunt also acquired land on Leslie Street north of Toronto.

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vafhc.moe.jump.summersMoe Baptiste and Fifty Grand representing the Piedmont Fox Hounds negotiate a seven-board coop during the individual test on their way to winning the Virginia Fied Hunter Championship. / Catherine Summers photo

Mo Baptiste’s handsome bay Thoroughbred, Fifty Grand, has played the role of bridesmaid for years. He was Reserve Champion to Virginia Field Hunter Champions in 2012 and again in 2015. This year he was, finally, the bride. And the Champion.

Reserve Champion honors go to Marilyn Ware, Deep Run Hunt. The annual Virginia Field Hunter Championship is noted for the quality of the competing horses. The Masters of every Virginia hunt receive an annual invitation to nominate up to two horse and rider combinations which have been hunting regularly with that hunt. Chosen by the Masters, twenty-one riders from eleven hunts competed. They were:

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