Fox Hunting Life with Horse and Hound

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Bull Run Hunt

bullrun

Culpeper, Rapidan, Virginia.

Website: www.bullrunhuntclub.com


JRs Photo by Rick Stillings 1Judges Graham and Sheri Buston make certain that every competitor at the Junior Handlers Hound Show gets their undivided attention and assistance. / Rick Stillings photo

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.

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fhc.greg schwartz and field.suttonRetired Bull Run huntsman Greg Schwartz leads the second flight. / Elizabeth H. Sutton photoFarmington Hunt's participation in March Madness Week at Bull Run Hunt started with a lot of questions. Hounds had not hunted in a week. Would they be up to the task of more open country and multiple game—fox and coyote? Did they have what it takes to give the sporting Bull Run field and their March Madness visitors a good day’s hunting? Would renegades riot?

These questions nagged at some of the Farmington Hunt members and staff as we assembled at Horseshoe Farm in Rapidan, Virginia with  twelve-and-a-half couple and a good gang of members. Three huntsmen and former huntsmen from further north said to me, “Well, you all will have to up your game today,” as we kidded about the lack of action that had been experienced on the three previous days due primarily to the weather.

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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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penn natlkimberton parade.al cookThe Kimberton Hunt (PA) had the honor of parading foxhounds on Hunt Night. / Al Cook photo

Foxhunters from Mr. Stewart's Cheshire Foxhounds (PA) dominated Hunt Night at the Pennsylvania Horse Show in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania on October 16, 2017. Cheshire riders won three classes and received ribbons in all five events on Monday night to claim the overall hunt championship title over the thirteen competing foxhunts. This was the eighth hunt championship won by Cheshire since the inception of Hunt Night. Riders from the Bull Run Hunt (VA) and the Green Spring Valley Hounds (MD) were also class winners.

One surprising contributor to Cheshire's Championship team was Olympic veteran Boyd Martin who competed in and won the Gentlemen's Hunter Under Saddle class with Right On Que, owned by Tanya Emslie of Unionville, Pennsylvania. Martin had just placed third in the Fair Hill International Three-Day Event CCI*** this past weekend and decided to drive up at the suggestion of one of his fellow Cheshire members.

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