Fox Hunting Life with Horse and Hound

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Piedmont Pair Are 2014 Field Hunter Champions in Virginia

nafhc.ch1Laurie Ambrose and Stretch from the Piedmont Fox Hounds won the 2014 Mrs. Theodora A. Randolph Field Hunter Championship. / Douglas lees photo

In a hark back to bygone days, the Theodora A. Randolph Field Hunter Championships combine a whirlwind week of foxhunting and socializing against a backdrop of sporting estates, well-bred foxhounds, and passionate foxhunters. Always held the last week of September and ending the first weekend of October, this year's event attracted seventy-four entries with a brilliant card of hosting hunts: Orange County Hounds, Blue Ridge Hunt, Loudoun Fairfax Hunt and the Piedmont Foxhounds. Judges ride alongside the field to observe the competitors in action before selecting several riders each day, based on how well their horses performed, for the finals on Saturday. Every hunt hosted a tailgate, and there were social functions every evening.

Foxhunters from twenty-two hunts and eight states rode in the event: Andrews Bridge, Belle Meade, Blue Ridge, Bull Run, Casanova, Deep Run, Elkridge-Harford , Farmington, Glenmore, Hillsboro, Keswick, Loudoun Fairfax, Lowcountry, Middleburg, Newmarket-Middletown Valley, Old Dominion, Orange County, Palm Beach, Piedmont, Snickersville, Warrenton, and Whiskey Road. Riders came from Florida, Georgia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia. The six judges were Helen Brettell, Middleburg; Snowden Clark; Liz McKnight, ex-MFH, Elkridge-Harford; Ginny Perrin, MFH, Deep Run, and the husband-and-wife team of Lincoln Sadler and Cameron Sadler, MFH, Moore County.

A 3-Day Eventer Goes Foxhunting

kate samuels1Handsome Leo and the author go hunting. / Joe Samuels photo

In England and Ireland, it’s de rigueur for eventing horses of all levels to spend their winter season in the foxhunting field, but in the U.S., not so much. In this country, the hunt field is not necessarily where young eventing enthusiasts start their passion for galloping at hedges and coops, or where young horses find their balance and footing across varied terrain.

We reap the benefits when we import sensible Irish horses that have already been out for two seasons at the age of five, but it is certainly less common than it used to be to find crossover between the two disciplines.

Leo, I decided, was going to take the old-fashioned route to finding his cross country talents; we were going to foxhunt. He had come an incredibly long way in the eighteen months that I owned him, in both cross country acumen and fitness for the activities required in eventing, but there was still something missing.

What Foxhunters Can Learn from Eventers

In the last issue of FHL WEEK, Kate Samuels wrote about what eventing horses can learn by going foxhunting. Your editor was reminded of an article we published back in 2010 that turned that question on its head somewhat. We had asked Olympic three-day medalist James Wofford what foxhunters can learn from eventers. As we are now in that part of the hunting season when a traveling fox may take us for the longest and most arduous run of the season, we thought it would be worthwhile republishing Wofford’s advice.
                                                
Carawich-Blue_Ridge_1978_copyJames Wofford on Carawich, 1978 / Gamecock photo

For most of us field members, perhaps one of the greatest single factors influencing the joy we experience in a day’s hunting is our riding ability. The more competently we are able to cross the country on our horse, the closer we come to a totally fulfilling experience.

Since eventers know just a bit about crossing the country, we asked instructor, team coach, author, and Olympic medalist James Wofford to discuss some of the principles of his particular discipline and how they might be applied to the hunting field.

Fout and Galligan Dominate Hurdles at Warrenton

pariformer.galligan.leesOpen Hurdle: (l-r) Doug Fout-trained Papriformer (Gerard Galligan) finished first and Storyville (Kieran Norris) placed second  /  Douglas Lees photo

Trainer Doug Fout and jockey Gerard Galligan monopolized the hurdle races at the Warrenton Hunt Point-to-Point at Airlie Race Course on Saturday, March 14, 2015. Fout and Galligan swept all three hurdle races as well as the Open Flat Race.

With the Thornton Hill and Blue Ridge Races postponed, Warrenton’s was the first Virginia hunt race to go off as scheduled this wintry spring season. Because of the deep going, the race card was abbreviated, and the courses were modified.

Dakota Slew Retires Rokeby Bowl at Piedmont

open timber2.dakota slew.walsh.leesAt the finish of the Open Timber Race it's Dakota Slew (Robbie Walsh up) 1st, Dr. Alex (Teddy Zimmerman up) 2nd. / Douglas Lees photo

Dakota Slew and Dr. Alex battled for the lead throughout most of the Open Timber race, even jumping the last fence abreast, but at the wire it was Dakota Slew by a length. It was Dakota Slew’s third win in this race under rider Robbie Walsh, thus retiring the Rokeby Bowl for owner Maggie Bryant. Trained by Richard Valentine, Dakota Slew is one of six horses that tied for Leading Timber Horse in Virginia in 2014.

The Valentine-Walsh team scored their second win of the day in the Open Flat Race with Clark Ohrstrom’s Kisser N Run taking the lead from Preachers Pulpit with less than a half-mile to run and winning easily. Kisser N Run was the 2013 Life’s Illusion Filly and Mare champion, and last season's winner of the Atlanta Steeplechase’s Georgia Cup.

Trainer Teddy Mulligan Returns, Wins at Blue Ridge

brh15.mulligan.getaway.kleckTrainer Teddy Mulligan marked his return to the racecourse with a win in the first race. / Nancy Kleck photoThe sixty-sixth running of the Blue Ridge Hunt Point-to-Point Races were held at Woodley Farm on Sunday, March 22, 2015. This was the second year in a row that the Blue Ridge race meet had to be postponed due to the weather.

Trainer Teddy Mulligan returned to the racecourse after a year’s absence, saddling his first horse for the first race since his leave-taking and scoring his first win. Bedizen and Zol Zayne, the one-two horses, pulled away from the field of four in the Maiden Hurdle Race with less than a quarter mile to run. Turning for home, Bedizen with Jeff Murphy up took the lead and drew away for a convincing win.

In the remaining two hurdle races—Amateur/Novice Rider and Open Races—trainer Jimmy Day and his rider Brendan Brooks dominated the Winner’s Circle with Controlled Neglect, owned by Ann Braxton Jones-Lynch, and Manacor, owned by a Daybreak Stables syndicate.