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

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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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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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kathleen okeefe foxhunterKathleen O'Keefe is a multi-time winner of both the North American and the Virginia Field Trial Championships / Liz Callar photoKathleen O’Keefe has been named Joint-Master of the Casanova Hunt. Many feel her appointment to be a natural progression for this accomplished horsewoman. O’Keefe takes the reins of one of Virginia’s oldest foxhunting clubs, expanding a lifelong love affair with horse and field sports.

O’Keefe, fifty-four and a native of Stephens City, Virginia, started riding when she was six months old in a wicker basket saddle, she says. A fourth-generation foxhunter, her late father, grandparents and great-grandfather were riders, and she grew up foxhunting with her grandmother at the Blue Ridge Hunt in Clarke County, Virginia. “I am especially proud of my father, Peter Drinkwater,” O’Keefe says, noting he won the Virginia Field Hunter Championship twice, a feat O’Keefe repeated in 2000 with her Thoroughbred field hunter Lord Hugh.

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