Fox Hunting Life with Horse and Hound

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Benjamin Hurt Hardaway, III, American Foxhunting Icon

ben hardaway cropBenjamin H. Hardaway, III, MFH died peacefully at his home on Thursday, October 19, 2017 at the age of ninety-eight. Funeral services were held Tuesday, October 24th. Interment at Linwood Cemetery was private. A memorial service was held at 2:00 pm, followed by a reception at Hardaway Hall in Midland, Georgia.

Ben was arguably the most widely-known American foxhunter throughout the foxhunting world and the most influential American breeder of foxhounds of the twentieth century. He had a passion for hunting all manner of wild game from his childhood days until his last. He hunted small game and birds with a gun, rabbits and coon with hounds, foxes with foxhounds and deer with lurchers.

He established the Midland Fox Hounds (GA) in 1950 and served as Master for sixty-seven years and huntsman for much of that period. He adored the July foxhound for its activity and aggressive hunting style, traits to which he could well relate. Ben’s favorite description of a successful foxhunt was “short, sharp, and decisive.”

William Gleeson: 1925–2017

Willie and Helen GleesonWillie Gleeson was Helen's first and only boyfriend.

Willie Gleeson, from Knocklong, County Limerick, Ireland, died on November 5, 2017. He was ninety-two.

Willie was known to just about every foxhunting visitor worldwide who ever hunted with the world-famous Scarteen Black and Tans. He hired out well-schooled, athletic field hunters that carried visitors safely over the imposing and sometimes treacherous banks and ditches of the Scarteen hunting country. Many of those visitors had never before faced such obstacles, but Willie's horses knew what to do!

Michael Higgens: Gifted in Every Aspect of Foxhunting

Michael HiggensNoel Mullins photoThe passing of Michael Higgens earlier this year is a huge loss to the hunting world. He was truly gifted in every aspect of our great sport—exceptional huntsman, horseman, hound breeder, judge, raconteur. He found his true life’s vocation in foxhunting, and he found his true soul-mate in Yvonne McClintock, a partnership that stood the test of time.

Only last November, the Tipperary Foxhounds made a presentation to Michael, their former Master and huntsman, on his fiftieth season hunting with the Tipps. I interviewed Michael on a number of occasions, and he kindly penned the foreword for a book I wrote some years ago on biographies of thirty-one equestrian personalities, some living, and others that had passed on. He described my book as featuring “The departed, those about to depart, and those with no intention of departing”! I don’t think Shakespeare could have matched that for word-craft. Michael could always effortlessly find the most fitting expressions for every occasion.

Ned Bonnie, ex-MFH: Horseman, Equine Lawyer, Conservationist

ned bonnieEdward S. “Ned” Bonnie, ex-MFH of the Long Run Hounds (KY), died on Saturday, March 17, 2018, in Louisville, at age eighty-eight.

He was a Master at Long Run from 1988 to 2014 and served terms as a director of the Masters of Foxhounds Association. He was a complete horseman, conservationist, and a leading equine lawyer for top Thoroughbred breeding farms in Kentucky.

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.

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.)

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.

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