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.
Foxhounds from five hunts faced off for the second Performance Trial of the Hark Forward season. The trials were hosted by the Millbrook Hunt in their scenic and mountainous country in the Hudson River valley of New York State, just ten miles west of the Connecticut border, ninety miles north of New York City.
Hounds met on Monday and Tuesday, September 25 and 26, 2017 under conditions reminiscent of mid-summer rather than the early days of autumn. Temperatures rose well into the eighties on both days as riders sweltered and hounds struggled to find quarry in the usually productive coverts. Yet hounds worked as a veteran pack and displayed outstanding work during their brief moments of action.
Each competing hunt had selected the seven-and-a-half couples of hounds from their kennels to best represent them. The thirty-seven-and-a-half couples of proven hounds melded quickly into a single pack (more about that later), reflecting positively on every huntsman: Bart Poole from the Essex Fox Hounds (NJ); Marion Thorne, Genesee Valley Hunt (NY); Codie Hayes, Golden’s Bridge Hounds (NY); Don Philhower, Millbrook Hunt; and Sean Cully, Rose Tree-Blue Mountain Hounds (PA).
I never met Ron Black in person, but I knew him so well. We’d been carrying on an email friendship for years. Ron died of cancer on September 5, 2017.
Over the years our correspondence covered all sorts of subjects—foxhunting, politics, world affairs. (He was for Hillary, all the way.) He scoffed at us mounted foxhunters for our preoccupation with horses and fancy clothing, and he would start most notes with, “How are things in the Colonies?” His sense of history was a huge part of who he was. And it was to preserve the history of foxhunting in his beloved Cumbria, after the despised Hunting Act became law, that possessed him to start a website and begin collecting that history.
That’s how John Harrison became friends with Ron Black. Harrison is currently hunting the Deep Run Hunt (VA) foxhounds, but twenty years ago Harrison was huntsman for one of the storied foot packs in the Lake District, the Ullswater Foxhounds. Ron was writing a book about the Ullswater. It was the hunt of Harrison’s boyhood, and he had returned to England from Toronto and North York (ON) to take up the horn there. It is a hard and dangerous place: climbing borrans (stone piles), crags (cliffs), and crossing the scree beds (fallen stone from the crags). It’s country that would ruin a horse the first time out. Harrison hunted the Ullswater hounds on foot there for eighteen seasons before returning to North America three years ago.
The Brits must be getting used to this. Teach the Yanks something worthwhile, like foxhunting, and they go ahead and change it. They did it first with the foxhound. A braggart named Harry Worcester Smith came along at the beginning of the twentieth century with his long-eared, mouthy, hare-footed hounds, and claimed they were better than ours! He put together a Great Hound Match and tried to prove it. We spent two hundred years developing the perfect model of what a foxhound should look like, and then along came another American named Ikey Bell who started another revolution. And just twenty years ago—yesterday in the proper scheme of things—a couple of rebels named Ben Hardaway and Mason Lampton started painting numbers on foxhounds. Whatever for?
Midland Striker 2015 was judged Grand Champion Foxhound at the 2017 Bryn Mawr Hound Show on Saturday, June 3, 2017.
Bryn Mawr is the one that got away from Striker last year. In 2016, this graceful moving, handsome Crossbred dog hound had a big year in the ring. He was judged Grand Champion at the Virginia Foxhound Show and at the Southern Hound Show. But the hat trick at Bryn Mawr wasn’t to be his. Now, Striker can add the Bryn Mawr notch to his collar.