Fox Hunting Life with Horse and Hound

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Bull Run Hunt

bullrun

Culpeper, Rapidan, Virginia.

Website: www.bullrunhuntclub.com


steve farrin.amwell valley.pa natl2013Huntsman Steve Farrin, parading Amwell Valley hounds at the Pennsylvania National Horse Show (2013).

It’s time for our annual report on the recent moves of huntsmen across North America. The huntsman is my hero. From the time we mount up and for the few hours that follow, it is he or she most directly responsible for the day’s sport. How the huntsman has bred, trained, deployed, and communicated with his troops—the hounds—has everything to do with the satisfaction of our day in the field.

The moves have been numerous this season, and, in a two cases, we have experienced whippers-in finally achieving their dream of a pack of their own to hunt. We’ll catch up with Alasdair Storer, Andrew Bozdan, Kathryn Butler, Stephen Farrin, Danny Kerr, Emily Melton, and Timothy Michel.

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 People

steve farrin.amwell valley.pa natl2013Huntsman Steve Farrin, parading Amwell Valley hounds at the Pennsylvania National Horse Show (2013).

It’s time for our annual report on the recent moves of huntsmen across North America. The huntsman is my hero. From the time we mount up and for the few hours that follow, it is he or she most directly responsible for the day’s sport. How the huntsman has bred, trained, deployed, and communicated with his troops—the hounds—has everything to do with the satisfaction of our day in the field.

The moves have been numerous this season, and, in a two cases, we have experienced whippers-in finally achieving their dream of a pack of their own to hunt. We’ll catch up with Alasdair Storer, Andrew Bozdan, Kathryn Butler, Stephen Farrin, Danny Kerr, Emily Melton, and Timothy Michel.

Old Dominon Hounds (VA)
After twelve seasons carrying the horn at Amwell Valley Hounds (NJ), Stephen Farrin is moving to Old Dominion.

“I am a third generation huntsman,” wrote Steve, “who has hunted and consequently gleaned many years of valuable knowledge from my family, mentors, and fellow huntsmen to guide my experience.”

Indeed, Steve has had an exceedingly rare foundation for any huntsman. He grew up in the kennels of the Quorn (UK), in a hunting country considered the cream of High Leicestershire. For thirty seasons (1968 to 1998) Steve’s late father, Michael Farrin, was the acclaimed huntsman for the Quorn. This is the hunt that actually kicked off the era of modern mounted foxhunting late in the eighteenth century during the time of Hugo Meynell, MFH, namesake of the “Meynellian Science.” Meynell actually invented a brand new way of hunting the fox—at speed, over open country, jumping obstacles as they came. We’ve been doing it his way ever since.

An aspiring huntsman could have had no finer education than growing up in the Quorn kennels with foxhounds of the finest lineages, absorbing the breeding, training, raising, showing, and hunting of this renowned pack. Steve is also a 2009 graduate of the MFHA’s Professional Development Program.

Steve emigrated to the U.S. in 2006, whipped-in to the Myopia Hunt (MA), Rombout Hunt (NY), Green Spring Valley Hounds (MD) for six seasons, and spent the last twelve years as huntsman for the Amwell Valley.

Taking over the horn at Amwell Valley will be Kathryn Butler, who arrives in New Jersey from her previous post as professional huntsman for Limestone Creek Hunt (NY).

emily melton.karenkandraEmily Melton whipped-in at Howard County-Iron Bridge / Karen Kandra photo

New Market-Middletown Valley Hounds (MD)
Emily Melton moves to New Market-Middleton Valley as huntsman. Emily has whipped-in for nine seasons at the Howard County-Iron Bridge Hounds (MD) and is a another graduate of the MFH’s Professional Development Program. Emily feels good about her career advancement as she approaches her new post.

“I think I’m ready now,” she said. She paused for a moment, then looked at me squarely in the eye and said with absolute confidence, “Yes, I’m really ready for this step.”

Former New Market-Middletown Valley huntsman Alasdair Storer, who has also been hunting the Middletown Valley Beagles, will concentrate solely on the beagle pack as huntsman and Joint-Master. This is no surprise. Allie hunted a topnotch beagle pack in England before coming to the States, and has a special place in his heart for the breed.

Timothy Michel becomes another first-time huntsman as he takes over the horn for the Bull Run Hunt (VA). Tim has been mentored and trained by the Masters and huntsmen of two top American hunts—Midland Fox Hounds (GA) and Green Spring Valley Hounds (MD)—having whipped-in and served as kennel huntsman.

Sheila Jackson Brown, MFH, Green Spring Valley, while disappointed that Tim will be leaving, has no doubt that Tim is ready for this advancement in his career.

“I hunted 140 days at Midland and 115 days a season at Green Spring, so there is no question I love to hunt!” Tim told his new employers. His wife, Jody, has been managing the Green Spring Valley stables, and will be looking for a similar opportunity in the Bull Run country. Daughters Abby (sixteen) and Samantha (seven) are accomplished riders as well.

andy bozdan2Andy Bozdan calls in hounds.

Camargo Hunt (OH)
London-born Andy Bozdan is the new huntsman at Camargo. Andy has hunted all manner of hounds—from Old English foxhounds to Penn-Marydels, beagles, and bloodhounds. And he’s hunted hounds in all manner of hunting countries—England, Australia, and North America. And he arrives with his wife, Erin, who can whip-in to him!

Andy previously held the huntsman’s post at Tennessee Valley Hunt (TN), where he and whipper-in Erin Doyle were married. After that, he was the first huntsman for the newly-merged Loudoun-Fairfax Hunt (VA), before taking a sabbatical and whipping-in most recently to huntsman Graham Buston at the Blue Ridge Hunt (VA). Andy has made friends wherever he’s been.

Danny Kerr, Camargo’s huntsmen for the last twenty-nine seasons, has retired. Prior to moving to Camargo, he was professional huntsman at the Sedgefield Hunt (NC) for eight seasons. Now in his sixties, Danny has enjoyed a long career hunting hounds and looks forward to enjoying some entirely different aspects of life before picking up a hunting horn again. If, indeed, he decides to do that at all!

Danny’s son is about to enter his senior year of high school, is playing football, and has garnered sufficient attention such that Danny wants to be with him as the family looks toward their son’s future in college sport. And Danny’s good friend, Tot Goodwin, has just registered his newly established hunt with the MFHA this year, the Goodwin Hounds (NC), and Danny plans to spend some hunting time with Tot. For some huntsmen, retirement looks like an ending; for Danny Kerr, retirement looks more like a new beginning.

Posted June 30, 2019

trfhc18.wittenborn.leesJohn Wittenborn and Soccer, representing the Smithtown Hunt (NY), win 2018 Theodora Randolph Field Hunter Championship in Virginia.

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.

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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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