A new exhibit, Leading the Field: Ellen Emmet Rand, opens at the National Sporting Library & Museum (NSLM) with a reception for members on October 4, 2019, and will hang through March 22, 2020. Rand was the first female student of American painter and sculptor Frederick MacMonnies, spent decades studying and painting in Paris, and for decades more was a successful portrait painter, commuting from her beloved Connecticut farm to her studio in New York City and across the country on commissions. Her subjects included sportsmen and women, captains of industry, judges, lawyers, socialites, children, and politicians—notably the first presidential portrait of Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
During a journey that fulfilled her dream of becoming a foxhunter, she crossed paths with some of the most influential sporting figures of the 1920s and 1930s, memorializing Masters of several prestigious hunts such as Fletcher Harper of Orange County (VA), Dr. Howard Collins of Millbrook (NY), and Evelyn Thayer Burr of Norfolk (MA). This important exhibition brings together several of these sporting commissions as well as paintings, studies, and sketches of the artist’s family and friends, and creates a personal picture of Rand as a fiercely talented painter, loving mother, countrywoman, and horsewoman.
The ninetieth annual New England Hound Show was hosted by the Norfolk Hunt (MA) at their Steeplechase Course in Medfield on Sunday, May 5, 2019. Seven district hunts exhibited foxhounds: Green Mountain Hounds (VT), Myopia Hunt (MA), Norfolk Hunt (MA), North Country Hounds VT), Old North Bridge Hounds (MA), Tanheath Hunt (CT), and Wentworth Hunt (NH).
Entries competed in three divisions—American, Penn-Marydel, and Crossbred—but North American foxhunting is currently going through a confusing period in which foxhounds registered as American may defy the thinking of some traditionalists.
Permit me, Muse, to sing the praises of Martha Doyle, a great lady in her own right and the noblest hunter I have ever seen or known. If I ever did see a better, I would not admit it, for that would be disloyalty to Martha’s memory and I am the High Priest of her cult. Many admire her, a certain few revered her greatness, but I adored her. She had my heart and perhaps, in a grudging, spinsterish, slightly contemptuous way, I had hers. You give your heart, I believe, to only one woman, one countryside, one horse, and one dog.
More than thirty children, ranging in age from fourteen months to sixteen years, enjoyed a day showing, learning, and making new friends at the Central Virginia Young Entry Junior Handlers Hound Show on June 10, 2018 in Charlottesville, Virginia. This unique event offered a full schedule just for youngsters, including four showmanship sections, a retired foxhound class, a modified pack class, and horn blowing and whip cracking contests.
The emphasis was on creating a fun, welcoming day for juniors from any background—even those with no previous foxhunting or hound showing experience. Keeping with this accommodating theme, organizers invited bassets and beagles to compete, as well as foxhounds.
Judges Graham and Sheri Buston, huntsman and whipper-in at the Blue Ridge Hunt, perfectly combined cheerful patience and helpful suggestions with keen professional eyes for pinning the best exhibitors in each event. Foxfield Racing Association kindly offered use of their lush green course just outside Charlottesville as the beautiful venue.
The New England Foxhound Show was hosted by the Norfolk Hunt in their Dover, Massachusetts country on May 6, 2018. Six hunts from four of the six New England States brought hounds: Green Mountain Hounds (VT), Myopia Hunt (MA), Norfolk Hunt (MA), Old North Bridge Hounds (MA), Tanheath Hunt (CT), and Wentworth Hunt (NH).
At the end of the day, a tricolor Crossbred dog hound, Norfolk Blarney 2016 (Myopia Bartlett 2008 ex Myopia Rachel 20112), was chosen Grand Champion of Show by Judge John Ike, ex-MFH, visiting from the Millbrook Hunt (NY).
I found Blarney’s breeding to be quite interesting, and I talked to Sue Billings, longtime Norfolk honorary whipper-in, about him as well.