Fox Hunting Life with Horse and Hound

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Ron Black: A Foxhunting Purist

black.ron.cumbrian.fox.hunter.historianAuthor/historian Ron Black, a fourth-generation foot hunter who strove to preserve the foxhunting history of his beloved Cumbria.I never met Ron Black in person, but I knew him so well. We’d been carrying on an email friendship for years. Ron died of cancer on September 5, 2017.

Over the years our correspondence covered all sorts of subjects—foxhunting, politics, world affairs. (He was for Hillary, all the way.) He scoffed at us mounted foxhunters for our preoccupation with horses and fancy clothing, and he would start most notes with, “How are things in the Colonies?” His sense of history was a huge part of who he was. And it was to preserve the history of foxhunting in his beloved Cumbria, after the despised Hunting Act became law, that possessed him to start a website and begin collecting that history.

That’s how John Harrison became friends with Ron Black. Harrison is currently hunting the Deep Run Hunt (VA) foxhounds, but twenty years ago Harrison was huntsman for one of the storied foot packs in the Lake District, the Ullswater Foxhounds. Ron was writing a book about the Ullswater. It was the hunt of Harrison’s boyhood, and he had returned to England from Toronto and North York (ON) to take up the horn there. It is a hard and dangerous place: climbing borrans (stone piles), crags (cliffs), and crossing the scree beds (fallen stone from the crags). It’s country that would ruin a horse the first time out. Harrison hunted the Ullswater hounds on foot there for eighteen seasons before returning to North America three years ago.

Foxhunter, Hall of Fame Horseman Bucky Reynolds Dies

bucky reynolds and kim nash.lees(Front) "Bucky" Reynolds and Kimbrough Nash, MFH, out with the Warrenton foxhounds / Douglas Lees photo

Famed horseman J. Arthur “Bucky” Reynolds died Monday, July 24, 2017, after a long illness. He was seventy-eight.

Bucky grew up in Tryon, North Carolina. His father J. Arthur Reynolds, Sr., a native of Orange, Virginia, was huntsman of the Tryon Hounds at the time. Both Bucky and his sister Betty Reynolds Oare grew up foxhunting and showing. Reynolds, Sr., a professional horseman, ran his own boarding and training facility. Bucky and his sister learned to ride under their father’s instruction, and both siblings helped break and train the sale horses as children. Each of the three—father, son, and daughter—have been inducted into the National Show Hunter Hall of Fame.

Rhoda Hopkins Root Lived Life at the Top of Her Games

rhoda hopkins2Rhoda Hopkins, one of the first female professional huntsmen* in North America, died peacefully on June 18, 2017. She was eighty-eight.

Rhoda hunted the Fairfield County Hounds (CT) for fifteen years, from 1979 to 1994. Her pack of Penn-Marydel foxhounds provided excellent sport in the field, and excelled at the hound shows, winning the Pack Class at Bryn Mawr for seven consecutive seasons. Hers were the first Penn-Marydels I ever hunted behind, and I remember galloping as fast to keep up as I have behind any other pack of foxhounds since.

Henry Hooker, MFH, Sportsman and Raconteur (1933-2017)

henry hookerFor all his important accomplishments, Henry Hooker could just crack you up with a story.

Henry Hooker, MFH since 1963 of the Hillsboro Hounds in Nashville, Tennessee, passed away at home on April 24, 2017, following a long illness. He was eighty-four.

Sadly, the world of field sport has lost a genial, enthusiastic, humorous, and visionary citizen. With his deliberate and clear Tennessee-inflected drawl, dry wit, and a sparkle in his eye, he was one of the most amusing raconteur’s ever to unfold a story. From the field or the podium—he was a highly-sought speaker—he could just crack you up.

In his memoir, Fox, Fin, and Feather: Tales from the Field (The Derrydale Press, 2002), he took his readers, on a raucous jaunt—foxhunting, fishing, and shooting—from the dark hills and hollows of the Tennessee night hunters to the exclusive quail-shooting plantations of South Georgia. He connected the “Brahmins of the chase” (English-inspired mounted foxhunters) to their American roots (southern night hunters and field trialers). The characters he ran across in the course of his sporting adventures furnished all the material he ever needed for his hilarious and touching anecdotes. For example...

Randy Rouse, MFH and Steeplechase Icon, Dies at 100

randy rouse.cinzano.leesRandy Rouse on his steeplechase champion Cinzano. The pair went to the starting line 11 times, and won every race. / Douglas Lees photo

Randolph D. “Randy” Rouse—Master of Foxhounds, retired champion race rider, Thoroughbred trainer, musician, and national steeplechase icon, died early Friday, April 7, 2017 at age one-hundred.

He was the oldest trainer in North American Thoroughbred history to saddle a winner, ever. He was ninety-nine last April when his Hishi Soar won the Daniel Van Clief Memorial at Foxfield Spring Races. This season, at age one hundred, just one week before his death, he sent Hishi Soar to the starting line again and won the Open Hurdle Race at the Orange County Point-to-Point in Virginia.

Marion Scullin: Doyenne of the Howard County–Iron Bridge Hounds

marion scullin and opal.KWW photoMarion Lee Crosson Scullin with one of her many favorite hounds, Howard County-Iron Bridge Opal.Marion Lee Crosson Scullin passed away peacefully at her Damascus, Maryland home after a brief struggle with brain cancer on March 5, 2017.

Born March 3, 1943 in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, to a family of huntsmen (father, grandfather, uncles, and cousins), Marion’s future could be said to have been predetermined. At the time she was born, Marion’s father, Albert “Pud” Crosson, was the huntsman for Rose Tree Foxhunting Club, moving to Huntingdon Valley Hounds, then Whitelands Hunt, and concluding his career with Pickering Hunt where, in 1976, he “died in the hunting field of a heart attack after his hounds completed a splendid run, marking their fox to ground.” Inducted into the Huntsman’s Room of the Museum of Hounds and Hunting, Marion’s father was known for breeding a hard-running pack of deep-throated Penn-Marydels.

Bill Backer (1926–2016): "The Real Thing"

backer at nslleessmallBill Backer, singing one of his foxhunting ditties while accompanying himself at the keyboard, at the National Sporting Library & Museum. / Douglas Lees photoWilliam M. Backer, a foxhunting man who put phrases and tunes on the lips of people in every corner of the globe, died in Warrenton, Virginia on Friday, May 13, 2016, after a short illness.

A member of the Advertising Hall of Fame, Bill Backer created iconic advertising campaigns such as the 1971 Coca Cola commercial featuring his jingle, "I'd like to Teach the World to Sing." Click for a televised clip of Bill being interviewed for and playing what is arguably the most famous commercial of all time.

Bill added “Miller Time" to the language of those who needed a substitute for “cocktail hour” and created the long-running television argument for Miller Lite: “Tastes Great; Less Filling,” one of the best-liked campaigns in the history of advertising. For Campbell Soup, he persuaded customers that "Soup is good food."

Bill was a longtime member of the Orange County Hunt (VA) and served on the Board of Stewards for fifty years, part of that time as President. At his Smitten Farm in The Plains, Virginia he bred and raised racehorses and was an active member of the Jockey Club and the Virginia Thoroughbred Association.