Foxhunters from Mr. Stewart's Cheshire Foxhounds (PA) dominated Hunt Night at the Pennsylvania Horse Show in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania on October 16, 2017. Cheshire riders won three classes and received ribbons in all five events on Monday night to claim the overall hunt championship title over the thirteen competing foxhunts. This was the eighth hunt championship won by Cheshire since the inception of Hunt Night. Riders from the Bull Run Hunt (VA) and the Green Spring Valley Hounds (MD) were also class winners.
One surprising contributor to Cheshire's Championship team was Olympic veteran Boyd Martin who competed in and won the Gentlemen's Hunter Under Saddle class with Right On Que, owned by Tanya Emslie of Unionville, Pennsylvania. Martin had just placed third in the Fair Hill International Three-Day Event CCI*** this past weekend and decided to drive up at the suggestion of one of his fellow Cheshire members.
The fourth Friendship Meet on the Hark Forward Tour of scheduled hunts and performance trials was at Mr. Stewart’s Cheshire Foxhounds in Unionville, Pennsylvania. During the month of September we traveled a distance of three thousand miles and visited nine hunts.
The Cheshire is revered as one of the best foxhunting establishments in North America, renowned for big fences, protected countryside, and a distinguished history. When you hunt here, everyone asks, “Did you jump the line fences?” Yes, we jumped one of the line fences first! Everyone spreads out and picks a panel of three-rail fencing and off you go, foxhunting with Cheshire!
Junior foxhunters and their parents traveled from thirteen states to Lexington, Kentucky, where the Iroquois Hunt hosted the finals of the 2016 Junior North American Field Hunter Championships. Thirty-three hunts participated over the course of the informal season by holding qualifying meets from which the finalists were chosen by mounted judges. In thirteen years, the program has grown steadily in participation and geographically from its modest start involving a few hunts in Virginia.
The program is succeeding because it’s purpose rises above just competition. Founders Douglas Wise, MFH, Old Dominion Hounds (VA) and Iona Pillion from the Blue Ridge Hunt (VA) had a larger dream: bring children to new hunting countries, broaden their hunting perspectives, and open their eyes to the fact that these hunting countries don’t just happen to be there for them by chance, but have been nurtured and conserved for the perpetuation of wildlife, open space, and for those who treasure the natural world.
“We want these kids to know what a conservation easement is,” said Marion Chungo, one of the organizers.
"I’d spent several minutes trying to describe my job as huntsman to a friend" recalled Ivan Dowling, the forty-two-year-old recently retired huntsman for Mr. Stewart’s Cheshire Foxhounds (PA). “The friend looked at me and said, ‘Ivan, you mean you’re the guy on the place mat?’”
Dowling cringed a bit and smiled, “Yea, that’s me.”
As we approach the 2016/2017 season, Foxhunting Life reports on recent huntsmen moves around the hunting countries.
Ivan Dowling has retired from hunting Mr. Stewart’s Cheshire Foxhounds (PA). After ten seasons (and before that as first whipper-in), this comes as a major change at Cheshire because the Irish-born Dowling was a key figure in implementing a bold, highly unusual, and successful hound breeding program there. With Dowling’s departure, Cheshire loses a professional whipper-in as well—Stephanie Boyer—who will wed Dowling in September.
Barry Magner is the new Cheshire huntsman. Irish-born Magner’s professional career includes whipping-in at the United Foxhounds (IRE) and a stint whipping-in in England. In the U.S., Magner whipped-in to the Howard County-Iron Bridge Hounds (MD) for a season and became huntsman there in 2007 upon Allen Forney's retirement. He came to Virginia as huntsman for the Middelburg Hunt where he remained for five years until leaving two years ago for Australia. Back in the U.S., Magner joined the Cheshire as professional whipper-in last season and was named huntsman upon Dowling’s retirement.