The horse industry is historic, even old-fashioned; the foxhunting world is more so. But follow Shannon MacKenzie’s journey from her native Canada to Virginia’s storied hunting country, and find a surprisingly modern twist to the tale. Facebook played a part.
MacKenzie first found out via a Facebook chat last year about an open slot for a professional first whipper-in at the Old Dominion Hounds (VA). It was a job she felt her skill set would serve, but it was a position she’d never held.
Virtually every coop, bridge, landmark, or covert in the Belle Meade Hunt foxhunting country (GA) has a name, so that huntsman, mounted whippers-in, and road whips can accurately and concisely communicate the location and direction of hounds by radio for their safety. What does this have to do with the late Major Kindersley, MFH of Ontario's Eglinton and Caledon Hunt? Only that one of the coops very often in the middle of the hunting action at Belle Meade is named “Major Kindersley’s Coop,” and virtually everyone who has hunted at Belle Meade is familiar with the name. But what do many of today's younger foxhunters know of the man? Here's the Major's story.
Charles Kindersley was born in Dorset, England, in 1900, and grew up with the traditional family pony in the South Dorset hunting country. When World War I broke out, the nearby army camp had to give up its beagle pack. The hounds were rescued by the local vet who, after seeing Charles’ interest, let him hunt the pack. This bit of experience would turn out to be highly valuable to the future Eglinton Hunt in Ontario, Canada.
When a huntsman retires after a long and successful career hunting hounds for a respected hunting establishment, that vacuum creates a ripple effect throughout the hunting community. So it was when Larry Pitts retired after thirty-five seasons hunting hounds at the Potomac Hunt (MD). Pitts’s vacancy was filled by huntsman Brian Kiely from the Myopia Hunt (MA); the void at Myopia was filled by huntsman Philip Headdon from the Chagrin Valley Hunt (OH); and the Chagrin Valley opening will be filled this season by huntsman Mark McManus from the Ottawa Valley Hunt (ON).
During his time at Ottawa Valley, McManus definitely left his mark (pun intended). OVH Master Anne McKibbin lets sixteen-year-old whipper-in Carmen Powell-Sadik tell us how.
Mark is an enjoyable person to be around, with many a good story to tell depicting various scenes of humor and horror taken from an exciting and sometimes perilous life of foxhunting in his native Ireland. He remembers times of his childhood riding with his baby brother “sat in me lap” as he (much to his father’s chagrin) jumped the hedges!
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.
Lake Erie College in Painesville, Ohio is offering a course in foxhunting this semester. The course, “Riding to Hounds,” will earn students an hour of college credit for Thursday night classroom sessions and from two to four Saturday morning fox hunts with the Chagrin Valley Hunt.
Pam Hess, dean of the School of Equine Studies said there is no killing of the fox. The Chagrin Valley Hunt has waived capping fees and, according to Hess, hunt members have gone out of their way to welcome young people, and especially those from Lake Erie College. The required textbook for the class is Riding to Hounds in America: An Introduction for Fox Hunters by William P. Wadsworth.
For more details, read Michael K. McIntyre’s article in Cleveland.com.
Posted August 17, 2013