Fox Hunting Life with Horse and Hound

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Middleburg Hunt

middleburg

Middleburg, Virginia

Website: www.middleburghunt.com


vafhc.moe.jump.summersMoe Baptiste and Fifty Grand representing the Piedmont Fox Hounds negotiate a seven-board coop during the individual test on their way to winning the Virginia Fied Hunter Championship. / Catherine Summers photo

Mo Baptiste’s handsome bay Thoroughbred, Fifty Grand, has played the role of bridesmaid for years. He was Reserve Champion to Virginia Field Hunter Champions in 2012 and again in 2015. This year he was, finally, the bride. And the Champion.

Reserve Champion honors go to Marilyn Ware, Deep Run Hunt. The annual Virginia Field Hunter Championship is noted for the quality of the competing horses. The Masters of every Virginia hunt receive an annual invitation to nominate up to two horse and rider combinations which have been hunting regularly with that hunt. Chosen by the Masters, twenty-one riders from eleven hunts competed. They were:

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jnafhc17.finalistsFifty-six junior finalists line up for their commemorative photo at Foxboro, home of Belle Meade Master and host Epp Wilson. / Eric Bowles photo

Junior foxhunters, their horses, parents, and friends traveled from thirteen states to Thomson, Georgia, where the Belle Meade Hunt hosted the finals of the fifteenth annual Junior North American Field Hunter Championships on November 11-13, 2017.

Throughout the course of the informal season, hunts around the country held qualifying meets from which the young finalists were chosen by mounted judges. Of the 216 juniors who qualified to compete in the finals, fifty-six young riders from eighteen North American hunts—more than twenty-five percent of those qualified—traveled to Belle Mead to hunt, compete, see old friends, and make a pile of new friends. And did they have a wonderful time! It was truly a pleasure to see.

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calendar cover 2018.cropped

Stop by the Foxhunting Life booth at the Virginia Foxhound Show and meet our guest, Mary Kalergis. She’ll be talking about her new book, Foxhunters Speak: An Oral History of American Foxhunting, and signing copies. The book has received high praise from readers.

Also, we’ll be previewing and accepting advance orders for our 2018 Foxhunting Life Calendar. We have a special deal for pre-orders!

Our new calendar is affectionately dedicated to Hugh Robards, just retired from a brilliant fifty-five-year career in hunt service. He appears on the cover (and on a page inside) in his final hunt as a professional huntsman. We are proud to publish Middleburg Photo’s gorgeous composition of Robards and the foxhounds of the Middleburg Hunt (VA) on the grass, framed by the bare trees of early spring, all against a blue sky adrift with fair weather clouds.

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As we approach the 2017/2018 season, Foxhunting Life makes its annual report on the recent moves of eight huntsmen across the North American hunting countries.

hughjulierobards.cropped.cancelliRetiring huntsman Hugh Robards, wife and first whipper-in Julie, and the foxhounds of the Middleburg Hunt / Chris Cancelli photo

Round I:
Hugh Robards’ decision to hang up his hunting horn after fifty-five seasons in hunt service got Round One underway. Fully half of those seasons, and certainly the most visible, Robards spent in Ireland’s challenging ditch-and-bank country as huntsman for the County Limerick Foxhounds. There, he provided world-class sport for Master Lord Daresbury (whom he succeeded as huntsman), the hard riding members, and a constant stream of hunting visitors from around the globe.

For the last three seasons, Robards has carried the horn for the Middleburg Hunt (VA). As difficult as his personal retirement decision must have been, the Middleburg Masters and members paid Robards such a stirring tribute at their Hunt Ball that he had to have felt the sincere respect and affection in which he was held, notwithstanding his short tenure there. The members made certain that the ball revolved about him with mounted photographs of his career, the showing of a specially produced video, and speeches—sincere and well-earned, to recognize an illustrious career.

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tony leahyMFHA President Tony LeahyTony Leahy, MFH of the Fox River Valley Hunt (IL), was elected to a three-year term as President of the Masters of Foxhounds Association at the Annual Meeting held on Friday, January 27, 2017 in New York. Leslie Rhett Crosby, MFH, Mooreland Hunt (AL) was elected First Vice President and Penny Denegre, MFH, Middleburg Hunt (VA) was elected Second Vice President. Also, David Twiggs was officially confirmed as the MFHA’s new Executive Director.

Retiring Executive Director Dennis Foster will remain at the office for another two months to complete David’s training. Upon his official retirement, Dennis will continue to assist the MFHA in animal rights and other areas, on a consulting basis.

I had the distinct honor of addressing the Annual Meeting crowd, the largest crowd I have ever seen, to relate how special David and his family are, and to explain President Leahy’s vision for an upcoming season of celebration. It was literally standing room only.

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