Fox Hunting Life with Horse and Hound

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Essex Fox Hounds

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Somerset, Hunterdon and Morris counties in north central New Jersey

Website: www.essexfoxhounds.org


neil.amatt.kleckNeil Amatt, professional whipper-in, Piedmont Fox Hounds (VA): “Anticipation, punctuality, how you present yourself—all these things are drilled into you in the English system. You start in the kennels, and you have to really want it before you’re even allowed on a horse.” / Nancy Kleck photo

With the start of a new season just around the corner, we bring back this article, first published in 2013, not only for the benefit of all new and aspiring whippers-in, but also for those field members who wish to appreciate all that happens in the hunting field.

Last season, after forty-five years of hunting, I witnessed a simple act of sophisticated whipping-in that left me shaking my head in admiration. For a huntsman or an experienced whipper-in, it was perhaps no big deal.

My hunt fielded an all-new professional staff last season—huntsman and whipper-in—both of whom were learning the country on the fly. Hounds had checked in a thick covert, and we in the field could see them, heads down, trying to recover the line. The whipper-in came galloping by headed for the end of the covert.

“Over here,” called the Field Master, pointing to a concealed trail. “You can get in over here.”

The whipper-in came back, talked urgently to the Field Master, then turned his horse and continued in the direction he was originally going.

After the meet I asked him what that exchange was all about.

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The Essex Fox Hounds (NJ) will reach out to their community on October 12 and 13, 2013 with “A Weekend in Gladstone.” Members will celebrate the hundredth anniversary of the hunt’s incorporation with a series of activities aimed at reaching out to their community.

On Saturday, foxhounds will meet at Bedminster Farm, and the organization’s legends will be honored at a hunt ball that evening at the U.S. Equestrian Team Foundation. On Sunday, there will be a procession of coaches, foxhounds and riders down Main Street to Natirar Park in Peapack and Gladstone, where a series of fun races will be held: stick races for children, a flat race, a timber race, and a Master’s Chase. Stable friends, amateurs, and junior riders will have the opportunity to ride relay races.

“We want to do something within our own community that gives a little understanding of why we keep open space,” said Karen Murphy, MFH.

The hunt feels that it is important for residents to understand the hunt’s role in preserving open space. Click for Nancy Jaffer’s complete article in The Star Ledger.

Posted September 14, 2013

Gathering of First Flight juniors before their mock hunt moved off.
Gathering of First Flight juniors before their mock hunt moved off.
Lauren Giannini photo

For their first seven years, the Junior North American Field Hunter Championships took place in Virginia, mostly at Old Whitewood, part of Orange County's country in The Plains. However, after Alex Matz won the First Flight (12-and-Under) championship in 2009, the notion of staging the next finals in Mr. Stewart's Cheshire country came to fruition. Blue Ridge Hunt's David Pawlak partnered with the indubitable Paris to ace the individual test in the First Flight and claim their second consecutive 13-18 championship. Makayla Benjamin (Loudoun West) and Butterfly Painting went home with the reserve tri-color.

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Gathering of First Flight juniors before their mock hunt moved off.
Gathering of First Flight juniors before their mock hunt moved off.
Lauren Giannini photo

For their first seven years, the Junior North American Field Hunter Championships took place in Virginia, mostly at Old Whitewood, part of Orange County's country in The Plains. However, after Alex Matz won the First Flight (12-and-Under) championship in 2009, the notion of staging the next finals in Mr. Stewart's Cheshire country came to fruition. Blue Ridge Hunt's David Pawlak partnered with the indubitable Paris to ace the individual test in the First Flight and claim their second consecutive 13-18 championship. Makayla Benjamin (Loudoun West) and Butterfly Painting went home with the reserve tri-color.

Read More