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


philhower3Ian Milne Award winner Donald Philhower, huntsman, Millbrook Hunt (NY) with his pack of attentive and adoring hounds  /  Capturing Moments Photography

The MFHA’s Ian Milne Award is a serious tribute to accomplished huntsmen across North America. It is awarded periodically to a huntsman of sound character who has made outstanding contributions to the sport of foxhunting. Recipients of the Ian Milne Award have learned the hard lessons of the field and the kennels as well as in life, and they have learned to do it right.

This year, that honoree is Donald Philhower, huntsman for the Millbrook Hounds in New York State. Consider the namesake whom the award personifies.

Ian Milne was respected and liked by all. His hunt service began in England and continued until his last breath here in North America. He was a genuine friend and a generous mentor to aspiring and established huntsmen. He was a gentleman, honest as the day is long, and he lived for hounds and hunting.

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nancy stahl.kkandra.croppedNancy Stahl, MFH, and her Joint Masters Parker Gentry and Lelee Brandt welcomed visitors to the gorgeous Millbrook country and made certain everyone was happy to be there. /  Karen Kandra Wenzel photo

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).

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Myopia-Lupy-grand-champion-foxhound-new-england-hound-show.shawn.tinkhamUn-entered Mopia Lupy matured overnight to win the Grand Championship at the New England Hound Show. / Shawn Tinkham photo

Un-entered Myopia Lupy may have surprised some when she was judged Grand Champion at the New England Hound Show on Sunday, May 7, 2017, but none could have been more surprised than her huntsman and the Myopia Masters. The un-entered Lupy, not yet a year old, hadn’t exhibited the slightest inclination to show herself off during the prior week-and-a-half of show training back home.

“She had no interest in concentrating,” said Kim Cutler, MFH of the Massachusetts pack. “She was all over the place—just a puppy.”

“Her litter mate, Luna, paid attention," recalled Phillip Headdon, Myopia huntsman, "but Lupy was just...loopy!”

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EssexSeminar01Foxhunting 101 starts with a skull session in the Essex kennels tackroom. / Tiffany Evitts photo

Some hunts seeking to attract new members are pro-actively educating prospects. The venerable (1912) Essex Fox Hounds (NJ) offered a presentation this summer at their kennels in Peapack called “Foxhunting 101.”

Huntsman Bart Poole and whipper-in Sam Andrews gave a presentation in the afternoon at the hunt stables in Peapack, after which questions were invited. After the presentation, participants mounted up, introduced their horses to hounds, and rode practice turns around the field. Fifteen participants then joined the Essex subscribers and local landowners for a roading exercise. The course which ended with refreshments was priced at $50.00 a person.

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Forty-eight foxhounds in the kennels of the Essex Fox Hounds (NJ) were all safely evacuated by early responders from the local police departments as a fire that broke out in the feed room filled the building with smoke and flames soon seen shooting through the roof.

The fire was reported at 4:51 am on March 3, and was declared out at 5:40 am through the efforts of firefighters and volunteers from four area fire departments. The kennel building was semi-attached to a stable complex, but the fire was contained to just the kennel.

The fire was discovered by a hunt employee arriving at work. Peapack-Gladstone Police Officer Paul Morris, the first officer at the scene, heard the cries of frightened hounds as he pulled up in his patrol vehicle. He set about freeing hounds from the pens closest to the fire, and worked his way through the rest of the pens that were starting to fill with smoke. While freeing hounds, he was joined and assisted by two other officers from Bedminster and Far Hills.

Karen Murphy, MFH, praised the fast response. “We’re really lucky we had very good guys here so fast,” she said. “We’re very thankful.”

The cause of the fire has not yet been determined. It remains under investigation, but is not considered suspicious.

Click for P.C. Robinson’s complete article and James Brusso’s photo in the Bernardsville News.

Posted March 4, 2016

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