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.
John Wittenborn and his fourteen-year-old Clydesdale-Thoroughbred cross, Soccer, returned home to Long Island and the Smithtown Hunt with the Championship Trophy and ribbon from the Theodora Randolph 2018 Field Hunter Championship in Virginia. Three tries was the charm for Wittenborn and Soccer. Last year the pair made a good showing, placing third.
It was the first team from a northern hunt to have won the coveted prize in thirty-five years of competitions. And it was fitting; Mrs. Randolph was a northerner, though from Boston’s North Shore.
Ottawa Valley Hunt’s Toronto and North York Cloud 2012 was judged Grand Champion of Show at the Canadian Hound Show. The show was hosted by the London Hunt (ON) and held on the grounds of the London Hunt and Country Club, Saturday, June 9, 2018.
In addition to Ottawa Valley, hounds were shown by Eglinton and Caledon, Hamilton, London, Montreal, Toronto and North York, and Wellington-Waterloo Hunts.
Ottawa Valley huntsman Antony Gaylard bred and entered Cloud while huntsman at the Toronto and North York Hunt (ON). When Gaylard departed T&NY to return as huntsman to Ottawa Valley, he took Cloud and others of his breeding with him, with permission, as is customary. Though technically English, Cloud has Crossbred lines in both sides of her pedigree. And an impressive pedigree it is, with outstanding tail lines—both male and female.
More than thirty children, ranging in age from fourteen months to sixteen years, enjoyed a day showing, learning, and making new friends at the Central Virginia Young Entry Junior Handlers Hound Show on June 10, 2018 in Charlottesville, Virginia. This unique event offered a full schedule just for youngsters, including four showmanship sections, a retired foxhound class, a modified pack class, and horn blowing and whip cracking contests.
The emphasis was on creating a fun, welcoming day for juniors from any background—even those with no previous foxhunting or hound showing experience. Keeping with this accommodating theme, organizers invited bassets and beagles to compete, as well as foxhounds.
Judges Graham and Sheri Buston, huntsman and whipper-in at the Blue Ridge Hunt, perfectly combined cheerful patience and helpful suggestions with keen professional eyes for pinning the best exhibitors in each event. Foxfield Racing Association kindly offered use of their lush green course just outside Charlottesville as the beautiful venue.
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.
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.