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

Virtually every 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 the location and direction of hounds by radio for their safety. What does this have to do with the late Major Kindersley, MFH of Ontario's Eglinton and Caledon Hunt? Only that one of the coops very often in the middle of the hunting action at Belle Meade is named “Major Kindersley’s Coop,” and virtually everyone who has hunted at Belle Meade is familiar with the name. But what do many of today's younger foxhunters know of the man? Here's the Major's story.

major charles kindersley

Charles Kindersley was born in Dorset, England, in 1900, and grew up with the traditional family pony in the South Dorset hunting country. When World War I broke out, the nearby army camp had to give up its beagle pack. The hounds were rescued by the local vet who, after seeing Charles’ interest, let him hunt the pack. This bit of experience would turn out to be highly valuable to the future Eglinton Hunt in Ontario, Canada.

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Hunting Days of Yore

Virtually every 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 the location and direction of hounds by radio for their safety. What does this have to do with the late Major Kindersley, MFH of Ontario's Eglinton and Caledon Hunt? Only that one of the coops very often in the middle of the hunting action at Belle Meade is named “Major Kindersley’s Coop,” and virtually everyone who has hunted at Belle Meade is familiar with the name. But what do many of today's younger foxhunters know of the man? Here's the Major's story.

major charles kindersley

Charles Kindersley was born in Dorset, England, in 1900, and grew up with the traditional family pony in the South Dorset hunting country. When World War I broke out, the nearby army camp had to give up its beagle pack. The hounds were rescued by the local vet who, after seeing Charles’ interest, let him hunt the pack. This bit of experience would turn out to be highly valuable to the future Eglinton Hunt in Ontario, Canada.

Becoming of age during that war, Charles served a short time as a pilot in the Royal Flying Corps. After the war Charles went out to the Canadian West where he worked on a ranch, an open-faced coal mine, and for a polo player in British Columbia. On his way back to England he stopped for a job interview with the CEO of Imperial Oil in Canada. After Charles told him about his experience out West, Mr. Smith asked to see his hands. Seeing all the calluses, Mr. Smith promptly hired him. Mr. Smith later told Kindersley that he had only agreed to see him as a favour to an acquaintance!

Back in England, Kindersley met Chrissie Crawford at a Hunt Ball held at the house of A. Henry Higginson, the American Master of Foxhounds who had taken over the Cattistock Hounds (UK). Chriss, riding sidesaddle, and her father, Colonel James Crawford, hunted regularly with the Cattistock. Kindersley’s job took him to oil interests in Colombia, but letters traveled back and forth, even when Chriss went to visit friends in India. Upon learning that Chriss was returning to England, Charles also went back to England and took the pilot boat out to meet the liner coming in! Needless to say, her parents were extremely surprised when they went to meet the liner in Southampton to see both these two waving from the deck. When the pair approached Cattistock Master, the well-known Parson Milne, to marry them, Milne was heard to mutter, “I hope that there will be a frost on that day,” meaning that it would not be a good scenting day for hounds!

rev.EA.Parson Milne.cattistockThe Reverend E.A. "Parson" Milne, MFH, Cattistock Foxhounds (UK)

After Colombia, Charles was sent to the International Petroleum refinery in Peru. He continued his interest in horses by setting up stables. His daughter Lynne remembers long rides on the beaches and inland over the dry, sandy countryside. Her father also started polo, the teams travelling to Lima for competitions. When the British Navy docked at Talara, horses were provided so that the crew could play polo. Lynne’s brother, Richard, was christened on the H.M.C. York when it made a stop at the Talara harbour. There were no hounds but paper chases provided some fun.

Moving to Canada in 1939, war soon broke out and Kindersley joined up with the Royal Canadian Engineers, shortly thereafter going overseas. His family settled in London, Ontario, for the duration. “But,” said his daughter, “fate interfered when my grandfather in England suffered a bad stroke, and my mother went over to help look after him. Once there, she could not come back to Canada because of wartime restrictions. She stayed in England, separated from her children for more than three years, throughout the remainder of the War. My brother Richard and I remained with friends in London [Ontario].”

“Travel was extremely haphazard and unpredictable at the end of the war with the military still commandeering any ocean-worthy vessels to get the forces home. My father was invalided back to Canada through Halifax and then by train to London, Ontario. My mother, with grit and determination, finally secured passage on the Queen Mary to New York City, taking a train from there to St. Thomas, Ontario. The most amazing thing was that they arrived in London, Ontario, within twenty-four hours of each other. You can imagine the reunion after such a long separation,” Lynne said.

By 1947 Kindersley’s back injury had greatly improved. The family moved to Toronto, and he became a member of Eglinton Hunt shortly before huntsman Terry Morton broke his leg so badly. After a short interval, Kindersley took over the job of hunting hounds. During the War, Eglinton Hunt had had to reduce the pack to a very few hounds which hunted drag only.

One of the first things to do was to obtain a draft of hounds from another pack. He was always grateful to Mrs. Nancy Hannum, MFH of Mr. Stewart’s Cheshire Foxhounds (PA) and to Mrs. Gilbert Humphrey of the Chagrin Valley Hunt (OH), each responding with generous drafts which made it possible to change from drag hunting to live hunting. Masters of Foxhounds have always been generous and ready to help other packs, especially in cases of disaster as when distemper hits a kennel. When this happened to the Eglinton Hunt, Toronto and North York was one of the hunts who kindly sent some hounds.

Kindersley, known as ‘The Major,’ continued to breed English hounds, obtaining fresh blood by importing dog hounds from some of the well-known English packs. In later years two hounds in particular passed on their good qualities: Portman Petrarch and Tipperary Grossman.

kindersley wallace groupCanadian Hound Show: (l-r) unknown; Lynne Kindersley Dole; Captain Ronnie Wallace, judge; Major Charles Kindersley, MFH

After World War II, the famous foxhunter and father of the Modern English foxhound, Ikey Bell, introduced some Welsh blood into the heavier, traditionally-bred English hound. Captain Ronnie Wallace, MFH, and huntsman of the Heythrop and later of the Exmoor Foxhounds (UK), followed Bell’s lead in streamlining the old fashioned, chesty, heavy English hound. Wallace produced slimmer and faster hounds with better conformation, gaining a worldwide reputation for showing some of the best sport. Other breeders soon followed, producing what is now referred to the Modern English Foxound. Captain Wallace, by the way, also began his hunting career by hunting a pack of beagles as a boy.

The Major, who had a keen eye for both horses and hounds, recognized the benefits of the Modern English Foxhound and began to breed accordingly. At that time there were hound shows in the United States, like Bryn Mawr, but not in Canada. The Major thought that Canadian packs might also benefit their breeding programs by showing hounds. Under his initiative, in 1954, the Sportsmen’s Dog Show agreed to include classes for the English foxhound for a couple of years, after which the different hunts took turns in putting on the yearly foxhound show independently. Masters from England and the States were asked to judge hounds, one judge from each country, a tradition continued today. Over the years the classes expanded to include both English and Crossbred Foxhounds, as Canadian packs started to include American, Fell, and Penn-Marydel bloodlines.

The Major said that the best recommendation to be given a foxhound is that it has a good nose, stays on the line, runs with the pack instead of going off on its own, and heeds the huntsman’s voice and horn. In order to do this the hounds need stamina and good conformation. The Major would look for a sloping shoulder, deep chest, long neck to stoop for the scent, well let down hindquarters, and firm, but not splayed, feet, with weight evenly distributed.

During his forty-two years as Master, the Major was blessed with many excellent Joint-Masters: Mrs. C. Churchill Mann, Lieutenant-Colonel G. Alan Burton, Brigadier F.C. Wallace (who occasionally hunted hounds when the Major was unable to do so), Lieutenant-Colonel George M. Brown, Gustav Schickedanz, and H. Charles Armstrong. After twenty-one years as huntsman, the Major handed over the horn to professional huntsmen, but continued as Master until 1991.

Major Charles M. Kindersley (1900–1993) was inducted into the Huntsmen’s Room at the Museum of Hounds and Hunting in 2003. The Museum’s tribute refers to the Major as a “wise and witty man with a great sense of humor; an outstanding soldier, hound breeder, and foxhound judge; a teacher who shared his profound knowledge of foxhounds and pedigrees with anyone who asked.” The Major passed on this enthusiasm to his daughter, Lynne Kindersley Dole, who hunted with Eglinton and Caledon, and the Blue Ridge Hunt (VA) for many years.

Re-posted February 21, 2021

Denya Massey Clarke and Lynne Kindersley Dole live in Ontario. Denya, a lifelong foxhunter, is the daughter of the late Stewart Treviranus, a member of the Canadian Three-Day Team, who competed in the 1952 Olympic Games in Helsinki. She is also the step-daughter of the late author/sportsman Alexander Mackay-Smith, MFH. Lynne Kindersley Dole was the first librarian of the National Sporting Library, co-founded in 1954 by Alexander Mackay-Smith in Middleburg, Virginia. A similar article was originally published in Hark! magazine by the Toronto and North York Hunt.

Virtually every 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 York 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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IMG 2539kIn the Bull Run country east of the Blue Ridge Mountains with trial huntsman Epp Wilson (left), judges, and pack. /  Gretchen Pelham photo

It was a top-three sweep, not only for English fell bloodlines, but for one Cumbrian hunt in particular. When the recent Bull Run-Rappahannock Foxhound Performance Trials concluded in Virginia over the weekend of October 19–21, 2017, the three top-scoring hounds were either sired by or whelped out of fell hounds from the Ullswater Foxhounds (UK). And three different Ullswater hounds at that.

Another hound finishing in the top ten was also whelped out of an Ullswater hound. At the center of this story is professional huntsman John Harrison, currently in his first season hunting the foxhounds of the Deep Run Hunt.

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