Blistering hot weather visited Virginia for the past four weeks. While not unusual this time of year, the length of the hot spell, with temperatures hovering in the high eighties and even reaching into the low nineties, has proved miserable to man and beast alike, but it failed to deter foxhunters who entered this year's North American Field Hunter Championships.
On Monday, September 30, the Championships began at Keswick. Hounds met at Glenwood, a fixture in the neighborhood of James Madison's Montpelier, outside the town of Orange. Contestants from as far away as Florida and Georgia traveled to compete in the event, as well as to enjoy early autumn hunting in Virginia. They were not disappointed. Keswick huntsman Tony Gammell provided a fine day of sport in the lovely rolling countryside as hounds ran across the nearby road, back again, and beyond the fixture into a scenic expanse of woods and cornfields. Afterward, everyone enjoyed a tailgate as five contestants were selected for the finals.
On Tuesday, October 1, hounds met at Owl Run Farm in Warrenton, home of Casanova Hunt Joint-Master Mrs. Joyce Fendley. Previously the home of Donna and Jack Eicher, huntsman at Rombout and later Farmington Hunt, the grounds include a lake and a cluster of graceful weeping willows out front. The residence and barns all exude the charm of old Virginia Hunt Country—weathered stone, stout board and batten, low eaves and metal roofs. A special surprise awaited the field this morning when shortly after casting hounds, an eruption in a cornfield revealed that hounds had encountered a black bear! Fortunately, the pack obeyed their orders to ignore the bear as it beat a hasty retreat. The remainder of the morning proved quieter, and as the field hacked in, Mrs. Fendley positioned herself, as she always does at the end of a hunt, such that she could personally thank everyone in the field as they passed by on their way to their trailer. This small but thoughtful act is just one of many that make hunting in Virginia so special and unique. It was a hot, thirsty, and tired field that gathered under a tent to drink and devour a delicious crab dip while recalling the excitement of having gone on their first bear hunt! This morning, six finalists were announced.
The 2013 Field Hunter Championship of North America will be held in Virginia from Monday, September 30 to Sunday, October 6. Competitors will hunt four days, with fixtures at Keswick Hunt, Casanova Hunt, Snickersville Hounds, and Piedmont Fox Hounds. The Finals will be held on Sunday, October 6 at Glenwood Park.
The final day at Glenwood will start with the judging of the “Best Turned Out” horse and rider, after which a short drag hunt will start and end on the racecourse. At least ten finalists will be chosen to ride over a “handy hunter” course, where they may be required to drop a rail, open a gate, and hand gallop and halt. Spectators are encouraged to attend. This is the second and final day of the Virginia Fall Races at Glenwood Park, so there’s a lot going on!
The family of the late Mrs. Theodora Ayer Randolph will again honor her memory and her lifetime commitment to fox hunting by awarding a $2,500 cash prize to the home hunt of the winner.
The Museum of Hounds and Hunting in Leesburg will award a one-year membership to the winning rider and to the two highest-placed Juniors that qualify for the Finals.
General Admission price is $30.00 per carload of four people. To reach Glenwood Park from the Washington DC area, take I-66 West and exit Route 50 West (Exit 57B towards Winchester). Drive approximately 25 miles to Middleburg and turn right at stop light in Middleburg (Route 626, Foxcroft Road). Proceed 1 mile North to Glenwood Park on your right.
For additional information and/or photos call the name above or contact the Field Hunter Championship Chairman Ms. Pippy McCormick at 540-454-2854.
Posted September 6, 2013
Katherine Gunter and John Dunbar were married on June 9, 2012, at Tybee Island, Georgia.
Katherine has been huntsman for the Aiken Hounds (SC) for the past four seasons. Prior to Aiken, she was professional staff at the Whiskey Road Foxhounds (SC) and the Bear Creek Hounds (GA).
John laid the drag for Aiken Hounds for much of this past season, riding western! John's family owns and operates a large cotton farm east of Aiken, and both share a love of fishing and hunting. Katherine and John met through foxhunting friends, Danielle Sertick and Todd Martineau, who will also be married later this summer.
Katherine and John were married on the beach at Tybee with fifty family and friends in attendance. Katherine's bridesmaids were foxhunting friends Mary Taylor Miller (whipper-in for Middleburg Hunt), Ria Burton (whipper-in for Aiken), Christine Raley (wife of Moore County huntsman David Raley), Danielle Sertick (whipper-in for Aiken) and Alison Brown (rider and trainer).
The couple honeymooned in the Florida Keys where they went deep sea fishing for five days. Shortly thereafter they went on another fishing trip off the North Carolina coast with Tony Gammell, huntsman for the Keswick Hunt (VA), Jordan Hicks, huntsman for the Tryon Hounds (NC), and Adrian Smith, huntsman for the Metamora Hunt (MI). Pretty good summer for the newlyweds so far!
Posted July 22, 2012
Linda Knox McLean is MFH of the Aiken Hounds.
Aiken Hounds huntsman Katherine Gunter and I had been planning this trip for months. South Carolina summers are tough, and no sooner had we returned to Aiken after the 2011 Virginia Foxhound Show and found ourselves enveloped in ninety-plus temperatures that we began to think about September and a possible hunting vacation.
Everything came together well. We don’t begin our own cubhunting until October, which left September free and clear for adventure. Where shall we go? We had a wonderful invitation from friends in Millbrook, NY, so we decided to make the big push north, out of the heat first, and work our way back south.
With stunning examples of the modern English foxhound setting the beauty standard of our time, the Penn-Marydels have long been considered the ugly ducklings of the show ring. So outclassed were they that when shown in the same ring with the modern English or well-bred Crossbred, they never even earned a second glance from the judges.
That view is changing, and we are seeing some spectacular examples of foxhound conformation in the Penn-Marydel ring. So good in fact, that in two cases at least the Penn-Marydel entry has eclipsed all others.