Fox Hunting Life with Horse and Hound

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Genesee Valley Hunt

geneseevalley

Geneseo, New York

Website: www.geneseevalleyhunt.org


henry higginson paintingAlexander Henry Higginson, MFHAn Old Sportsman’s Memories, the autobiography written by A. Henry Higginson and J. Stanley Reeve tells the story of a proper Bostonian, Harvard class of 1898, who turned his back on a life of commerce, finance, and philanthropy—the route traditionally followed by New England men such as he. Smitten by the sport of foxhunting to the exclusion of all else, and with the support of his indulgent father, A. Henry Higginson followed his dream: a life of foxhunting.

His father, Major Henry Lee Higginson, more than fulfilled the family’s responsibilities to his community by his own philanthropy. The elder Higginson had dreamt of being a musician in his younger years, but Puritan Boston expected other things from her sons, and so he became a businessman as was expected. In time, he founded the Boston Symphony Orchestra, however, and was its earliest administrator.

He organized the corporation that built Symphony Hall, the first auditorium designed in accordance with scientifically derived acoustical principles. It is, as a result, widely regarded as one of the top concert halls in the world. Interestingly, with all the architectural flourishes of the period that architects McKim, Mead & White could bring to their creation in the year 1900, the structure displays only one composer’s name upon a large shield mounted on a frieze centered above the stage—Beethoven. There are other smaller shields upon the frieze framing the stage, but they are still blank! Boston is a careful and thoughtful old city.

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va19.gsv sappire.karenkGrand Champion Green Spring Valley Sapphire with (l-r) huntsman Ashley Hubbard; Franklin Whit Foster, MFH; J.W.Y. Martin, MFH; Virginia Foxhound Club president Joan Jones, ex-MFH; and Sheila Jackson Brown, MFH. /   Karen Kandra photo

More than six hundred foxhounds from thirty-seven hunts were exhibited at the Virginia Foxhound Show at Morven Park on Sunday, May 26, 2019, over the Labor Day Weekend. Hunts from thirteen states up and down the Eastern Seaboard and from as far away as Texas brought foxhounds to stand up against the finest examples of their breeds in North America. It is the largest foxhound show in the world.

In the always exciting final class of the show, four foxhound Champions—American, English, Crossbred, and Penn-Marydel—presented themselves to be judged for this year’s Grand Championship Class. It’s always a difficult class to judge because each entry has already been winnowed down throughout the day’s classes and has been chosen as the best specimen of its type by the judges in each ring. Each hound is deserving, and the attention and hopes of all spectators, though friendly, are ratcheted to a new level.

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eric myer.karen kandraEric Myer wears the colors of the Genesee Valley Hunt (NY) early in the season.  /   Karen Kandra Wenzel photo

Eric Myer, DVM, is currently in his sixty-sixth season of foxhunting. And not just with one hunt. No, no. If that were the case, the hunting season would be far too short to suit him.

At eighty-two, Eric begins his season in mid-July up north near Rochester, New York with the Genesee Valley Hunt. His wife Martha has roots in Geneseo, and the couple has a summer farm there. Then, in mid-October, when the Piedmont Fox Hounds are well into their cubhunting season down south in Virginia, Eric and Martha return to their Boyce farm in the Shenandoah Valley.

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ashley hubbardKgp photoTrial Huntsman Ashley Hubbard  /  Kgp PhotographyTwo days of hard hunting on November 6 and 7, 2018 behind a pack of fifty-four foxhounds—each of which qualified for this championship event by placing among the top ten of one or more of the performance trials over the past year—concluded the MFHA Hark Forward! Performance Trial Season. The season of performance trials, field hunter trials, and joint meets which began last year were conceived by MFHA president Tony Leahy and Master Epp Wilson, Belle Meade Hunt (GA), to reprise, during Leahy’s tenure as president, the spirit of the MFHA Centennial celebrations ten years earlier.

The Performance Trial Championship event was matured, expanded, organized, and staged to perfection by the Masters of the Midland Fox Hounds (GA) in their Fitzpatrick, Alabama hunting country. More than two hundred people representing more than forty hunts participated. Foxhounds from twenty-four hunts competed. Ashley Hubbard, professional huntsman at the Green Spring Valley Hounds (MD), served as trial huntsman for this all-star pack.

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marion thorneThe Genesee Valley hunting country is blessed with both red fox and coyote which have coexisted for thirty-five years. So to say that I would draw specifically for coyote on any given day would be impossible. However, there are areas in which coyote are more likely to be in my country. If am drawing one of those areas, I am very mindful of the wind.

With a coyote it is much more important to draw upwind. He will get up and go much sooner than a fox will. To have the best chance of being close behind him, it is better to draw upwind so he does not wind us and bolt. I would enter the covert quietly, encouraging hounds to concentrate and draw fairly widely.

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