Fox Hunting Life with Horse and Hound

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Albert Poe and the Old Virginian

mary phillips photoMary Phillips Coker photo

The Huntsmen’s Room of the Museum of Hounds and Hunting at Morven Park is a space that honors all North American huntsmen for their existential contributions to our sport. Enshrined therein are the images and histories of certain huntsmen who, by their demonstrated skill with hounds, their courage across country, and their unselfish and complete dedication to the sport, have been selected for individual honor in representing their peers.

In the same room stands a sculpture of the Old Virginian by the important American artist (and Hall of Fame polo player) Charles Cary Rumsey (1879–1922). This is one of Rumsey’s many smaller bronzes of horses, though he is probably best know for his grander works such as war memorials, the Three Graces Fountain at Forest Lawn Cemetery, his controversial nude, The Pagan, and the triumphal arch and colonnade at the Manhattan entrance to the Manhattan Bridge.

Mary Phillips Coker’s snapshot of Rumsey’s bronze in context with the image of recently deceased Albert Poe may not be an award-winning photograph—Mary has already won her share of awards and attention for her artistry and sculpture—but for those of us in the foxhunting fraternity, the photograph has a stirring significance. The mounted Old Virginian, walking with his hounds in this hall of memories where fitting tributes have been paid to both Albert and Melvin Poe, makes us wonder if we have seen the last of such Virginians with their passing—countrymen born in a simpler time when youngsters grew up absorbing naturally the secrets of the fields and woods and hunting for the dinner table and for sport. If so, aren’t we lucky to have been here in their time?

Posted June 10, 2019

Ghost Dog

ghost dogGhost Dog. That’s how this foxhound is referred to in Fairfax County, Virginia.

For nearly a year now, Ghost Dog has been seen hunting through suburban properties by homeowners in Fairfax and Annandale, just west of the Washington D.C. Beltway, between Routes 236 and 50. These are busy high-speed roadways, and local residents fear he may be lost from a nearby hunt or a family, and would like to see him safely home and out of danger.

In the photograph, he appears to be clean, well-groomed, and healthy, which suggests that he actually may have an owner who simply allows him to run loose. But the hound is shy of people, and no homeowner has yet been able to lay a hand on him to look for a tattoo or implant.

We publish this appeal in the hope a reader may be ably to identify the hound or provide information. Please use the New Comment feature or respond directly to Foxhunting Life.

Posted January 23, 2019

The Amazing Colors of Fauna and Flora

Photograph by Liz Callar

ochfox.small.callar

Photographer Liz Callar says this was “just a great moment after trying for ten years to get a great Orange County fox!”

Liz not only captured her fox—one that invites me to rub my hands on its fur—but a photograph that includes all the colors of nature both in crisp focus and in fuzzy pastels. Every color in the visible spectrum is represented in this lovely composition of a graceful and healthy fox standing alertly in the midst of its natural world.

Click for larger image.

Posted December 26, 2018

Why Some Autumn Hunts are Unforgettable

IMG 1062Frances Player photo

Early every season, foxhunters get to sit for a special moment on a horse, in the midst of the natural world, as the rising sun ignites crystals of dew, and the slanting light creeps across the once dark fields. All is silent but for nature’s sounds, and then...

“...the sounds of the hunting horn and this year’s young entry could be heard in the cornfield, giving hope for a promising season ahead,” said Heather Player, professional whipper-in for the Keswick Hunt (VA).

Heather’s mother, Frances Player, took this lovely photo.

Posted September 14, 2018

On the Grass With Blue Ridge and Thornton Hill

DSC 5816Photographs by Liz Callar

By the north-western banks of the Shenandoah River, just under the sweep of the Blue Ridge Mountains, huntsman Beth Opitz, MFH, Thornton Hill Hounds (VA) readies to move off to the first draw with her pack of Penn-Marydel foxhounds. Husband and Joint-Master Erwin Opitz (in scarlet) helps to keep the pack together.

The joint-meet at the southern-most end of the Blue Ridge Hunt country at Blue Ridge Master Jeff LeHew’s beautiful Shannon Hill fixture was held on Tuesday, December 4, 2018. It was new country for Thornton Hill’s Penn-Marydels, and a different experience for the Blue Ridge hosts who regularly follow their Crossbred pack of Modern English and American lines, but also includes some pure Old English, pure Fell, and crosses on these bloodlines as well. (See “A Level Pack or a Team of Specialists?”)