Fox Hunting Life with Horse and Hound

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albertpoe.portrait.leesAlbert Poe was huntsman of the Middleburg Hunt (VA) for 15 years before retiring from an illustrious career breeding and hunting old Virgnia Bywaters type foxhounds. / Douglas Lees photo

Albert Poe died on Saturday night, May 18, 2019. He was arguably the finest American-born professional breeder of foxhounds of our time. Along with his brother, Melvin, the pair have to be considered the two most storied American-born professional huntsmen that any foxhunter living today could have followed across the country.

Melvin might have been considered the more gregarious personality, but Albert, in his quiet way, was extremely articulate. He could put into words the hunting wisdom which developed perhaps instinctively.

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brh18.maiden hurdle.maisanoSteeplechase horses swish through the man-made national fences routinely at most hurdle races around the country today. Brush fences were once expensive and time-consuming to set up, and racetracks were dropping steeplechase races from their cards.  /  Joanne Maisano photoIt was autumn of 1973, and the world was in turmoil. U.S. forces were pulling out of Vietnam, the Watergate scandal was rocking the nation, and a looming energy crisis was getting global traction.

The steeplechase circuit, too, was in a state of flux. The year before, the bottom had fallen out of the industry. New York basically kicked out the jumpers and went from eighty-three jump races at Belmont, Aqueduct, and Saratoga in 1970 to fifteen in 1973. And those were at Saratoga only.

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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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randy rouse.cinzano.leesRandy Rouse on his steeplechase champion Cinzano. The pair went to the starting line 11 times, and won every race. / Douglas Lees photo

Randolph D. “Randy” Rouse—Master of Foxhounds, retired champion race rider, Thoroughbred trainer, musician, and national steeplechase icon, died early Friday, April 7, 2017 at age one-hundred.

He was the oldest trainer in North American Thoroughbred history to saddle a winner, ever. He was ninety-nine last April when his Hishi Soar won the Daniel Van Clief Memorial at Foxfield Spring Races. This season, at age one hundred, just one week before his death, he sent Hishi Soar to the starting line again and won the Open Hurdle Race at the Orange County Point-to-Point in Virginia.

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orangecountyptp.hishi soar.leesHishi Soar, owned and trained by Randy Rouse wins the Locust Hill Open Hurdle Race with Gerard Galligan in the irons. / Douglas Lees photo

In May, last year, at age ninety-nine, Randy Rouse, MFH of the Loudoun Fairfax Hunt (VA), saddled his Hishi Soar, put Gerard Galligan up, and won the featured race at Foxfield in Charlottesville—the sanctioned $25,000 Daniel Van Clief Memorial optional allowance hurdle. That feat made Rouse the oldest American ever to train a Thoroughbred winner.

Last Saturday, April 2, 2017, Rouse, brought Hishi Soar to the Orange County Point-to-Point Races at Locust Hill Farm, put Galligan up again, and won the Open Hurdle Race in a five-horse field. That feat, by our reckoning, makes Mr. Rouse the first one-hundred-year-old American ever to train a Thoroughbred winner.

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