Fox Hunting Life with Horse and Hound

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Juniors Meet in Pennsylvania for 2010 Junior North American Field Hunter Championships

Gathering of First Flight juniors before their mock hunt moved off.
Gathering of First Flight juniors before their mock hunt moved off.
Lauren Giannini photo

For their first seven years, the Junior North American Field Hunter Championships took place in Virginia, mostly at Old Whitewood, part of Orange County's country in The Plains. However, after Alex Matz won the First Flight (12-and-Under) championship in 2009, the notion of staging the next finals in Mr. Stewart's Cheshire country came to fruition. Blue Ridge Hunt's David Pawlak partnered with the indubitable Paris to ace the individual test in the First Flight and claim their second consecutive 13-18 championship. Makayla Benjamin (Loudoun West) and Butterfly Painting went home with the reserve tri-color.

Adopt-a-Kid

norman.dede.karenmYou've come a long way, kid! / Karen L. Myers photoThe average age of active foxhunters continues to rise. Where are the youngsters? we ask. Pointing to all the “usual suspects”—risk aversion, social media addiction (living vicariously rather than actively), animal rights activism—is...well...pointless. Social change continues to be part of mankind’s evolutionary process. What can we do pro-actively? is more to the point.

The MFHA has periodically urged hunts to reach out to nearby Pony Clubs, and many of these efforts have been successful. The Live Oak Challenge sponsored by MFHs Marty and Daphne Wood has introduced numerous young riders to foxhunting by offering financial incentives to the winning Pony Clubs. The Guide to Establishing a Foxhunting Camp written by Joyce Fendley, MFH provides a cookbook approach to running a summer day camp for any hunt wishing to reach out to children. (The booklet is available from the MFHA.)

Hunts can do these things, but there is something we as ordinary members of the field can do. We can adopt-a-kid.

Outreach at Cheshire Brings More Children to the Field

cheshire_juniorsThe late Mrs. John Hannum, former Master of Mr. Stewart’s Cheshire Foxhounds (PA), was always thrilled to see a new child at the kennels on a summer morning. Nothing pleased her as much as giving a child—at the kennels for hound walking—his or her first opportunity to observe working hounds at close range.

Building on that early philosophy, the current Masters have introduced new incentives that have greatly increased the number of children in the field.

Juniors Rule at Snickersville's Junior Meet

7Connor PoeConnor Poe whipped-in with Robyn Harter. / Middleburg PhotoLike most days at Nelson Gunnell’s Banbury Cross we expected a large field. But this was Junior Day—a day when the juniors take over the positions of staff and make all the calls. So the group that gathered for this nine o’clock meet was huge. I’m not sure, but I heard rumors there might have been eighty people out to hunt. We had fifteen couple of Penn-Marydels and Penn-Marydel crosses under open skies, with temperatures warming to sixty-eight degrees.

Don’t get me wrong; I like a large field. I want visitors and guest alike to see what one of the best packs in Virginia can do. But at some point it can get too large! We had a first field, second field, and a beginner field for children. We also had, besides the Field Masters, field stewards in the back to help along those who might fall out, to check gates and riders, and generally to keep order at the tail of the field.