Fox Hunting Life with Horse and Hound

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Schooling Moses, the Mulish Field Hunter

moses.brunnen.cropMoses discovered it was futile to resist.

Fresh Start Farm, both a name and sometimes a working philosophy, is a farm I rent where I maintain my horses as well as boarders.  My boarding is limited to retired or laid up horses since I do not want the liability associated with riders on the property. Or the owners, to be perfectly honest. Riding around the farm myself is enough of a liability.

The problem with boarding retired horses is that eventually you lose them to the infirmities of old age. This is what happened to my friend Jan’s big imported Rhinelander gelding Christmas Eve of 2015. JW had been with us for seven years or so before he passed away. The following spring, Jan mentioned that with JW gone she would like to get a rescue. A mule.

Warrenton Kicks Off Virginia Point-to-Point Season

warrenton18.jimmy emily mcvicar.lees
Bruce Smart's Officer's Oath, winner of the Virginia Bred/Sired Flat Race, is untacked by trainer Jimmy Day, Emily Mackay-Smith Day, and jockey Liam McVicar. /  Douglas Lees photo

Warrenton Hunt opened the Virginia Point-to-Point Season on the first hospitable Saturday in the month of March this year. It was a spring-like day everywhere except at the Airlie Racecourse, where it snowed!

It was St. Patrick’s Day, and a good day for the Irish at that, with trainer Jimmy Day winning one Hurdle and two Flat races and two Irish horses winning the Open Timber and the Foxhunter Timber Races.

Timber Horses Show Up to Race at Piedmont

piedmont.davies family.leesTeddy Davies, shown between (l-r) father Joe Davies and grandfather Bruce Miller, won two pony races. Trainer Joe Davies is a Maryland Hunt Cup winning rider. Trainer Bruce Miller is ex- MFH of Mr. Stewart's Cheshire Foxhounds (PA) / Douglas Lees photoTwo of the four timber races at the Piedmont Point-to-Point on Saturday, March 24, 2018, were split, giving race goers six well-filled and exciting races over the beautiful timber course at Salem. Turf conditions were good.

Dakota Slew, a multi-winning timber horse was back. Slew had the honor of retiring the Rokeby Bowl here two years ago after his third consecutive Open Timber win at Piedmont. Still trained by Richard Valentine, the old favorite that for a time practically “owned” the course settled for a second place finish under McLane Hendricks in the first division of the Amateur/Novice Rider Timber Race.

Fout-Norris Dominate at Orange County

och18.kieran norris.leesWith four wins and two seconds of ten races on the card, Kieran Norris was leading rider at Orange County. / Douglas Lees photoKieran Norris had an outstanding day on the racecourse at beautiful Locust Hill Farm—timber, hurdle, flat—whichever course he rode. Norris, Virginia’s Leading Rider in 2017, rode four winners at the Orange County Point-to-Point on Saturday, April 1, 2018. He finished the day with two seconds as well, making it first or second in six of the ten races run.

Entries were reasonably strong, with the Maiden Flat and the Maiden Hurdle Races being split. Trainer Doug Fout saddled four winners as well, three of them with Norris aboard.

Old Dominion Point-to-Point at Ben Venue

odh18.lady timberTrained and ridden by Amber Hodyka, Manacor returns to the races as a timber horse, and wins. / Douglas Lees photoManacor is back. Remade into a timber horse and now trained and ridden by Amber Hodyka, Manacor won the first race, Lady Timber, at the Old Dominion Hounds Point-to-Point Races on Saturday, April 7, 2018.

The bay ten-year-old was brought to the U.S. from Ireland by trainer Jimmy Day and was a frequent winner over hurdles out of Daybreak Stables for four years. He disappeared from the point-to-points last year and is back in the capable hands of Hodyka, a friend of the Days.

Manacor led throughout most of the race, held off a bid by Erin Swope’s Sweet Talking Guy, and won comfortably. Sweet Talking Guy—another familiar horse on the point-to-point circuit with a regular habit of winning Lady Timber races—was one of the top six Leading Horses in Virginia in 2017. Just off a Lady Timber win at Piedmont this season, he came up short against Manacor.

Loudoun Hunt Point-to-Point Races

loudoun18.open hurdle.hower(Center) Greg Ryan's Three Kingdoms (Kieran Norris up) won the Open Hurdle Race. / Lesley & David Hower photoLoudoun Hunt opened a day of point-to-point racing at Oatlands Plantation in Leesburg, Virginia on Sunday, April 15, 2018, with two exhibition side saddle races—one over fences, the other on the flat. King of Hearts trained by George Kuk and ridden by Devon Zebrovious was the winner over fences. The sixteen-yerar-old bay gelding alternated the lead with Little Lady, Amy Jo McGee up, in the two-horse field and prevailed in the stretch.

Hail Yeah was the winner by a neck in the Side Saddle Flat race in a field of seven. Winning owner was Terri Ehrenfeld, and Kathryn Cowles was trainer and rider.