Fox Hunting Life with Horse and Hound

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Blue Ridge Hunt

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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

brh exercise2.awmHuntsman Guy Allman leads the Blue Ridge pack on summer exercise with (l-r) whipper-in Neil Amatt and Albert Anderson behind. / Anne McIntosh photo

The Blue Ridge Hunt will have a new look up front when hounds take to the field for the upcoming season. Huntsman Guy Allman and first whipper-in Neil Amatt—both English-born—comprise an all-new professional hunt staff. The two men and the Blue Ridge pack of English and Crossbred foxhounds have spent the summer months getting to know each other and establishing a working relationship.

Guy arrived at the Blue Ridge kennels in May directly from England after twelve years as huntsman to the Mid Devon (UK). He has spent this very hot summer immersed in the task of establishing the Blue Ridge pack as his. Neil arrived just recently—within the month—from the Midland Fox Hounds (GA) where he has served for the past five seasons as kennel huntsman.

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Foxhound puppies sent out of the kennels to live at hunt members’ and supporters’ farms for socializing are said to be “at walk.” It's sort of like summer camp for the pups, and it happens every spring and summer. When destruction to yard, garden, and shrubs exceeds the limits of the puppy walkers’ tolerance, the hounds are returned to the kennels. By that time, the puppies will have grown and prospered, learned their names, been introduced to the lead, and more or less socialized. A break for the huntsman, an education for the puppies, and an annual delight for the puppy walkers.

The author and her family have walked puppies for the Blue Ridge Hunt (VA) every summer for nearly twenty years. This blog was first published in Foxhunting Life nearly ten years ago and this being the time of year when hound puppies are out at walk, we thought it would be fun to bring it back.

wolfe.monarch and ropeMonarch with rope"Incredibly destructive,” I muttered yesterday evening as my husband, Bill, and I were eating dinner on our screen porch, watching these two terrorists drag the cover to our outdoor grill across the patio. Because they are hound dogs, nothing is off limits. Their little noses find the smallest scent and their first reaction is to either chew it or dig for it. A crumb or a caterpillar, a two-day old footprint from a passing varmint, or a newly plopped horse turd sends them into olfactory ecstasy. I’ve tried to imagine being able to smell everything a hound dog can smell…what a new world that would be.

I look forward to the puppies every summer. They make me smile, and what better way to spend a day?

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Foxhunting Life is pleased to bring you these wonderfully entertaining extracts from a new hound blog I know you will enjoy. Martha Wolfe and her family have walked puppies for the Blue Ridge Hunt (VA) every summer for the past ten years. Martha updates her blog regularly with Motive’s and Monarch’s latest adventures so that we, too, may enjoy watching them grow and learn.

wolfe.monarch and ropeMonarch with rope"Incredibly destructive,” I muttered yesterday evening as my husband, Bill, and I were eating dinner on our screen porch, watching these two terrorists drag the cover to our outdoor grill across the patio. Because they are hound dogs, nothing is off limits. Their little noses find the smallest scent and their first reaction is to either chew it or dig for it. A crumb or a caterpillar, a two-day old footprint from a passing varmint, or a newly plopped horse turd sends them into olfactory ecstasy.  I’ve tried to imagine being able to smell everything a hound dog can smell…what a new world that would be.

I look forward to the puppies every summer. They make me smile, and what better way to spend a day?

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The Blue Ridge Hunt (VA) will welcome in a very few days the arrival from England of two new professional staff members—huntsman Guy Allman and first whipper-in Thomas Hopson.

Huntsman Allman comes to Blue Ridge after twelve years hunting hounds at the Mid Devon Foxhounds in England. Before that he was kennel huntsman at the Golden Valley, first whipper-in to huntsman Anthony Adams at the Heythrop, and kennel huntsman and whipper-in to Nigel Peel, MFH at the North Cotswold and earlier at the Chiddingfold, Leconfield and Cowdray.

Tom Hopson is a Yorkshire man, a graduate of the Royal Agricultural College in Cirencester, a keen rugby player, and a dedicated horseman. Oh yes, he hunts, too! He was first whipper-in at the Berkeley for a season.

The two will need much support from the hunt membership as they take over an unfamiliar pack in equally unfamiliar country.

Posted April 30, 2012

brh.witte.12Kellie Witte piloted her Twin Kiss to a second victory in two starts this season in the Junior Field Masters Chase.The sixty-third running of the Blue Ridge Hunt Point-to-Point Races was held Saturday, March 10, 2012 under a brilliant blue sky and over good footing at the Woodley Farm racecourse.

Two horse-rider combinations repeated their winning ways of the previous week at Thornton Hill: Twin Kiss ridden by Kellie Witte in the Junior Field Masters Chase and Mischief with Annie Yeager aboard in the Amateur/Novice Rider Hurdle Race.

Trainer Jimmy Day posted a win and two second place finishes. Top jockey was Carl Rafter with two wins and a second. Rafter rode Day's winner, Trappe d'Or owned by Bruce Smart in the Maiden Flat Race; Zoe Valvo's Triton Light to the wire in the Open Hurdle Race; and posted a second on Red Ghost in the Novice Timber.

Jockey Jeff Murphy rode trainer Teddy Mulligan's The Editor to a win in the Novice Timber Race and posted two second place finishes for the day as well.

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