The venerable Virginia Foxhound Club—the team that brings you the Virginia Foxhound Show each year—is celebrating its sixtieth anniversary. It seems timely to look back, evaluate the importance of hound shows in the overall scheme of foxhunting, and convince those with a passion for the sport that their membership in the Virginia Foxhound Club, no matter where in North America they hunt the fox or the coyote, is an investment that will benefit all fox hunters and their hunts.
The Virginia Foxhound Show, the largest hound show in the world, brings foxhounds of all types and all strains to the flags for viewing, comparing, and judging. Whether a Master or huntsman is seeking certain bloodlines, or an outcross to introduce hybrid vigor to the gene pool within his kennels, he sees such hounds at Virginia. And he has the opportunity to socialize and chat, in a magnificent setting, about the merits and traits of the canine objects of his desire. With your support, the best matings may continue to be made in Heaven, but they’ll be arranged in Virginia!
We invite readers to fill us in on any moves that we’ve missed. We also invite you to send us a personal profile on any of these huntsmen that we can publish as a feature article. Or, just send us the information, and we’ll write the story. Use the “Contact Us” link that appears at the bottom of every screen to communicate directly with me, and be sure to include your phone number.
What follows is foxhunting’s version of musical chairs.
Stuart Grod—popular field member of the Fairfield County Hounds (CT)—has retired after forty-three consecutive seasons hunting in the first flight. A retirement party was held in Stu’s honor at the hunt’s clubhouse on November 22, 2014, where well-known food and travel author Michael Stern read a poem he composed for the occasion.
"Build a bridge with your hands on the mane;"
"Trot smooth as you head for the jump;"
"Go light when your hands hold the reins;"
"And don't crowd on the lead horse's rump:"
Just some of Stu's tips I've acquired
Since I started to ride with you folks.
I'll miss you up there, you strange country squire
With your bright eyes, your wisdom, and jokes.
The foxes! Oh, the foxes! When Barclay Rives undertook a marathon of foxhunting in 1999, when he went out with nine English hunts in ten days, it seemed like there was a fox popping out of every covert.
Rives, an honorary whipper-in for the Keswick and Bull Run Hunts (VA), writes about his English sporting adventure in See You at Second Horses, a delightful read that puts us galloping behind some great packs in the glory days before the infamous Hunting Act of 2004 banned hunting with hounds in the traditional manner in England and Wales.
Rives is an avid hunter who once hunted one hundred days a season, sometimes going out with Keswick in the morning and Bull Run in the afternoon. Saying he was gung-ho is an understatement. He jumped at the chance to join his friends Grosvenor and Rosie Merle-Smith to hunt with packs dating back to the 1700s: the Quorn (twice), the Cottesmore, the Fernie, and others, including a foot pack—the High Peak Harriers—after rabbits.
Wentworth Audrey 2013 was judged Grand Champion of Show at the New England Hound Show on Sunday, May 4, 2014. The show was held at Echo Ridge Farm in Lee, New Hampshire and was hosted for the first time by the Wentworth Hunt. Audrey is by a Penn-Marydel sire, Red Mountain Van Gogh 2008, out of an American dam, Keswick Nipper 2010.
Audrey's sire, Van Gogh, has his own history. After a couple of stops in the Carolinas, his intelligence earned him a new home in New England where he could hobnob with all the Ivy Leaguers. More on that later.
Huntsman Charles Montgomery from the Bull Run Hunt (VA) judged the foxhounds. Montgomery knows a good hound when he sees one. As huntsman for the Live Oak Hounds (FL) for many years, he consistently fielded a pack of hounds of which an astounding percentage were hound show Champions and Grand Champions.
Wentworth is a drag pack in southern New Hampshire that changed over from Crossbred hounds to American and Penn-Marydel when the current huntsman Kami Wolk, MFH, took up the horn. Kami explained that Audrey was one of two litter sisters that huntsman David Raley drafted to her from the Moore County Hounds (NC). David, in turn, had received the pair from Katherine Gunter, huntsman at the Aiken Hounds (SC) who bred the litter.