Fox Hunting Life with Horse and Hound

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Karen Stives Succumbs After Long Illness

karen stivesKaren Stives and Ben Arthur, 1984 Olympics

Olympic medal-winner Karen Stives died peacefully at her home in Dover, Massachusetts on August 14, 2015 after a five-year battle with cancer. She was sixty-four. Karen was a member of the Norfolk Hunt Club but her great passion was competition, and there she made history.

Karen showed hunters and jumpers successfully through the 1970s and then became smitten with eventing and dressage. She was the first woman to win an Individual Medal in an Olympic Three-Day Event, winning the individual Silver Medal in the 1984 summer Olympics in Los Angeles on her gray Irish-bred Ben Arthur. In doing so, she anchored the U.S. team in capturing the Team Gold Medal in the Three-Day Event that year. In 1982 she had represented the U.S. in the World Championship Three-Day Event at Luhmuhlen aboard her Thoroughbred horse, The Saint. She was the USEA Rider of the Year in 1981, 1987, and 1988.

In her induction into the USEA Hall of Fame, Karen is described as a “New England rider who rose to the top of international competition through sheer diligence, hard work, and plenty of natural ability, and is called a ‘small package with a thousand-pound brain,’ by longtime friend and colleague, Jim Wolf.  At one time she contemplated trying out for both the U.S. eventing and dressage teams in the same year—an idea she discarded after riding in two separate selection trials in the same weekend!”

Gus Schickedanz, Foxhunter, Horse Breeder, Dies at Ninety

gus schickedanz.kronprinz.brendan matthiasGus hunting Kronprinz, a Trakehner /  Brendan Matthias photo

Gustav Schickedanz, ex-MFH, Eglinton and Caledon Hunt (ON), 2009 inductee into the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame, emigré from war-ravaged Europe, died peacefully at his Schönberg Farm in Ontario on Monday, June 17, 2019. A horseman from his earliest days, Gus was a loveable, courtly, and fascinating man who had personally witnessed the best and the worst of life’s offerings during his ninety years on this planet.

Gus’s life trajectory included the pleasures of a childhood with horses on the three hundred acre family farm in East Prussia, the terror of his family’s flight from the Russians across Germany in World War II, the struggles of gaining entrance to Canada and a new life, achieving wealth through building a successful construction and development company from scratch, the breeding of stakes winners, and the satisfactions derived from devotion to family, horses, and foxhunting.

Shelley O’Higgins: A "Can-Do" Ambassador for Hounds and Hunting

ShelleyAlbert BrynMawrShelley O'Higgins and Albert Poe evaluating foxhounds at Bryn Mawr.

Last July, Shelley O’Higgins, age sixty-two, lost her battle with cancer. She died as she lived—motivated by the heart and determination that characterized her passion for meeting every challenge. An avid foxhunter, she thrilled to the chase and encouraged new enthusiasts. Family and friends remember Shelley as a dedicated huntsman and an ambassador for the sport.

Shelley spent two decades of service as a professional huntsman. While at Bull Run Hunt (VA), she raced over fences for several seasons, making fifty starts in all. All nine of Shelley’s career wins took place aboard two outstanding timber horses, Woodstock Nation and Amberson Place. In 1980, five of her victories earned Shelley the title of Leading Lady Timber Rider on the Virginia Point-to-Point circuit.

Albert Poe, Dead at 87

albertpoe.portrait.leesAlbert Poe was huntsman of the Middleburg Hunt (VA) for 15 years before retiring from an illustrious career breeding and hunting old Virgnia Bywaters type foxhounds. / Douglas Lees photo

Albert Poe died on Saturday night, May 18, 2019. He was arguably the finest American-born professional breeder of foxhounds of our time. Along with his brother, Melvin, the pair have to be considered the two most storied American-born professional huntsmen that any foxhunter living today could have followed across the country.

Melvin might have been considered the more gregarious personality, but Albert, in his quiet way, was extremely articulate. He could put into words the hunting wisdom which developed perhaps instinctively.

Matthew Page Mackay-Smith, Hall of Fame Veterinarian, Dies at 86

mm sMatthew Mackay-Smith, internationally-renowned equine veterinarian, medical editor for EQUUS magazine, lifelong foxhunter, competitive endurance rider, and historian, died on December 8, 2018 in Berryville, Virginia. He was eighty-six.

Matthew possessed one of the most brilliant, ravenously curious minds I've ever encountered. A pioneer of equine surgical procedures, Harvard man, crazy brave foxhunter from age eight to eighty, mapper of colonial roads, 100-mile endurance rider, wordsmith nonpareil, coiner of riotous witticisms, knower of seemingly everything, mentor of seemingly everyone. In a world peopled with the narrow-focused, he was Jeffersonian in breadth. (Matthew was, in fact, a descendant of Thomas Jefferson.)

Bruce Smart: Horseman, Conservationist, Executive, Author, Reagan Appointee

bruce smart.leesDouglas Lees photoStephen Bruce Smart, Jr., a well-known, highly respected, and popular figure in Virginia’s horse country, died at his home in Middleburg on Thanksgiving Day at age ninety-five.

In his retirement from commerce and government, he established Trappe Hill Farm in Upperville, Virginia, where he owned, bred, and sent winning steeplechase horses to the racecourses. The successful racing and breeding operation, however, was just the tip of the iceberg that encompassed his passion and commitment to horses, foxhunting, showing, conservation of open space, and all the working people and institutions that make up the Community of the Horse. Which was the title of a three-volume set of books he wrote and published, synthesizing how horses play a unique role in knitting entire communities together.

Bruce Smart’s “community” has suffered an immense loss.

The Stable Yard Is Silent

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The anniversary of the start of the First World War will be upon us July 28th. Four years ago, in England, on the hundredth anniversary of that terrible conflict, James Barcaly, ex-MFH, tossed and turned through the early morning hours. Thoughts of the war, the carnage that took its toll on James's family members, eighteen million people, eight million horses, and what those years meant to a way of life that was so much a part of the Barclay family ran through his head. He got out of bed, sat down, and wrote this poem. At 6:30 am he finished writing. Twenty minutes later the South Wold Foxhounds came up his drive on summer exercise, making his world right once again.

The stable yard is silent, no equine friends, no ears twitching over the doors.
Where have they gone? They have gone to Europe to fight a war.
Will they be back to graze the summer pastures green?
Will they be back to see the autumn mist and hear hounds running?
Will they be back to enjoy the fifty minutes across the grass?

They and their Masters have gone to defend our freedoms.
In mud and wire they toil, no end in sight,
But the thought of hounds running and their cry deep in their veins,
Make our horse and human friends dream, dream of
A cold winter’s night, hacking homewards with the moon up high.