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All-New Staff at Blue Ridge

brh exercise2.awmHuntsman Guy Allman leads the Blue Ridge pack on summer exercise with (l-r) whipper-in Neil Amatt and Albert Anderson behind. / Anne McIntosh photo

The Blue Ridge Hunt will have a new look up front when hounds take to the field for the upcoming season. Huntsman Guy Allman and first whipper-in Neil Amatt—both English-born—comprise an all-new professional hunt staff. The two men and the Blue Ridge pack of English and Crossbred foxhounds have spent the summer months getting to know each other and establishing a working relationship.

Guy arrived at the Blue Ridge kennels in May directly from England after twelve years as huntsman to the Mid Devon (UK). He has spent this very hot summer immersed in the task of establishing the Blue Ridge pack as his. Neil arrived just recently—within the month—from the Midland Fox Hounds (GA) where he has served for the past five seasons as kennel huntsman.

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Arturo Bandini and the Pasadena Hunt

arturo bandiniArturo Bandini“Mr. Arturo Bandini, of the Pasadena Hunt, owns the finest pack in the vicinity.... The meet is generally upon Orange Grove Avenue, or some spot contiguous to the Arroyo. And before the dew is off the grass, and while the scent is fresh, the musical notes of Mr. Bandini’s horn may be heard, followed by the fitful baying of the hounds; and then horsemen and women come from all directions—parties from the Raymond and other hotels, and from Los Angeles and San Gabriel, swelling the hunt....”

So writes Charles Frederick Holder, in his 1889 book, All About Pasadena and its Vicinity; It’s Climate, Missions, Trails and Canyons, Fruits, Flowers and Game. Holder tells us that the sport holding the most fascination to visitors is hunting the wild-cat with hounds—the cats in this area sometimes weighing in at fifty pounds. One can't help but wonder if Mr. Bandini and his hounds were even known to those east-coast founding fathers that were pioneering our own sport of organized mounted foxhunting in the late 1800s.

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When Children Are Included

belle meade.neilly.allison howellAllison Howell photo

Neilly Dozier (7) is congratulated by Epp Wilson, MFH of the Belle Meade Hunt for her recitation of the Belle Meade Toast to the huge Opening Meet crowd at the Knox House, site of the Blessing Ceremony. Nellie memorized the poem—written by Mrs. Pinkie Knox in 1967—and asked to recite it.

Neilly works with hounds regularly and knows the names of many. She helps walking out and showing each year at the hound shows and puppy shows. Along with her family, Neilly helps to deliver Christmas gifts to landowners and goes caroling with other members to the landowners.

Neilly is a wonderful example of what children can contribute when they are encouraged and included.

Posted December 19, 2012

Drawing for a Fox, the Huntsman Catches a Wife

fran and guy2The newly engaged couple, Francesca Harding and Blue Ridge huntsman Guy Allman, return to the meet at the end of a surprising day. / Nancy Kleck photoBlue Ridge huntsman Guy Allman transformed last Saturday’s well-attended Junior Meet from just another great day in the field to far loftier levels. He chose a moment during his first draw to propose marriage to Francesca Harding. The lady said, “Yes,” and Allman presented her with a ring.

This was no spur-of-the-moment proposal I was to learn. The day’s affair was a premeditated, meticulously planned campaign of romance on the huntsman’s part that warmed even the hearts of the grizzled and jaundiced old-timers in the field.

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