The Farmington Hunt and J.B. Birdsall received the 2011 Hunting Habitat Conservation Award at the MFHA Annual Meeting in New York City on Friday January 28.
Each year with each recipient of this award we witness yet another testament to the role of foxhunting in the preservation of open space. Arguably no other sporting culture has done as much to preserve land and natural habitat.
But, it often takes a leader, an individual driving force, to establish a culture of conservation within an organization. J.B. Birdsall—longtime foxhunter, landowner, and hunt member—provided that passion, commitment, and leadership for the Farmington Hunt to become a force for open space conservation in their hunting country.
Leica was a remarkable horse whose career took her from incorrigible youngster with a vicious buck to an impressive third-place finish at age twenty-four in the grueling MFHA Centennial Field Hunter Championship. She was still hunting and showing at age twenty-seven, when she had to be humanely euthanized as the result of a pasture injury.
With her bloodlines and dazzling good looks, Leica was primed to be an outstanding dressage horse. An imported bay with touches of white, she was registered Hanoverian (by Lindberg, out of St. Pr. Kari) who was also entered in the main stud book of the RPSI (Rheinland Pfalz Saar International) and Holsteiner registries.
But after abuse from trainers who pushed her too far too fast, Leica had other ideas, says owner Julie Whitlock McKee of Grantville, Georgia. McKee acquired the hard-headed mare at age four after the trainers gave up on her. The pair did not get off to an auspicious start, with Leica rearing the first time McKee threw a leg over her. Rearing and bucking would become a regular occurrence.