Fox Hunting Life with Horse and Hound

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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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Juniors love to go hunting, but for them isn’t it mostly about the rider and his or her horse? How about the hounds? Couldn’t we set the foxhunting hook deeper by connecting interested juniors with hounds as well?

andy and erin bozdan cropHuntsman and whipper-in, Andy and Erin Bozdan, spend a day with the Loudoun Fairfax juniors acquainting them with hounds. /

The Loudoun Fairfax Hunt (VA) is thinking about just that. They are hosting a Junior Hound Clinic this summer—a one-day affair, easy to put on. I’ve long been involved with hound programs for juniors and this is one idea that I hope appeals to other hunts.

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marty woodkleckcropC. Martin Wood, III, MFH / Nancy Kleck photoFoxhounds weren’t the only newsmakers at the Virginia Foxhound Show. A few people were worth noting as well!

Huntsmen’s Room
Three individuals were introduced for induction into the Huntsmen’s Room of the Museum of Hounds and Hunting in ceremonies on Saturday evening. Before dinner under the tent, Jake Carle, ex-MFH, spoke eloquently, reverently, and at the right times humorously about the three men who have hunted hounds with distinction for many years: C. Martin Wood, III, MFH, Live Oak Hounds (FL), G. Marvin Beeman, MFH, Arapaho Hunt (CO), and the late Jim Atkins who hunted hounds for the Piedmont Fox Hounds, Old Dominion Hounds, and the Warrenton Hunt, all in Virginia.

marvin beeman  jim atkins2
G. Marvin Beeman, MFH                    Huntsman Jim Atkins

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From London's streets to Virginia’s hunt country

bozdan and hounds.cropped.laura rileyHuntsman Andy Bozdan and the Loudoun Fairfax hounds / Laura Riley photo

The job: huntsman. The man: Andrew Bozdan—leader of fifty couple of Old English foxhounds. One hundred canines. How is this possible? In all my life as a dog owner, I’ve only had a handful who actually came when I called. How is it that we mortals have such difficulty in getting our dogs to sit and come and not potty in the house, while this man steers his entire pack in an apparently seamless manner.

The answer is, as always, nothing is ever as easy as it looks. Before the man appears in public, seated atop his skewbald gelding, wearing his scarlet coat, and blowing his copper horn to speak to the mass of hounds seething below, one heck of a lot of work happens and many miles are traveled.

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nafhc13.teresa.callar2013 North American Field Hunter Champion Greyland Woods, owned by Karen Mantz and ridden by daughter Teresa Croce, jumps to victory over Judge Jean Derrick's scarlet coat (Belle Meade colors). / Liz Callar photo

Blistering hot weather visited Virginia for the past four weeks. While not unusual this time of year, the length of the hot spell, with temperatures hovering in the high eighties and even reaching into the low nineties, has proved miserable to man and beast alike, but it failed to deter foxhunters who entered this year's North American Field Hunter Championships.

On Monday, September 30, the Championships began at Keswick. Hounds met at Glenwood, a fixture in the neighborhood of James Madison's Montpelier, outside the town of Orange. Contestants from as far away as Florida and Georgia traveled to compete in the event, as well as to enjoy early autumn hunting in Virginia. They were not disappointed. Keswick huntsman Tony Gammell provided a fine day of sport in the lovely rolling countryside as hounds ran across the nearby road, back again, and beyond the fixture into a scenic expanse of woods and cornfields. Afterward, everyone enjoyed a tailgate as five contestants were selected for the finals.

On Tuesday, October 1, hounds met at Owl Run Farm in Warrenton, home of Casanova Hunt Joint-Master Mrs. Joyce Fendley. Previously the home of Donna and Jack Eicher, huntsman at Rombout and later Farmington Hunt, the grounds include a lake and a cluster of graceful weeping willows out front. The residence and barns all exude the charm of old Virginia Hunt Country—weathered stone, stout board and batten, low eaves and metal roofs. A special surprise awaited the field this morning when shortly after casting hounds, an eruption in a cornfield revealed that hounds had encountered a black bear! Fortunately, the pack obeyed their orders to ignore the bear as it beat a hasty retreat. The remainder of the morning proved quieter, and as the field hacked in, Mrs. Fendley positioned herself, as she always does at the end of a hunt, such that she could personally thank everyone in the field as they passed by on their way to their trailer. This small but thoughtful act is just one of many that make hunting in Virginia so special and unique. It was a hot, thirsty, and tired field that gathered under a tent to drink and devour a delicious crab dip while recalling the excitement of having gone on their first bear hunt! This morning, six finalists were announced.

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