Fox Hunting Life with Horse and Hound

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Old Chatham Hunt

oldchatham

Old Chatham, New York

Website: www.oldchathamhuntclub.com


RoseTree-Blue Mountain prevails with all five entries finishing among the top-ten overall scoring hounds, including Bridle 2015, the winner.


Through an early morning mist, foxhounds are in full cry after the coyote. This excellent video was filmed on the second day of the Millboo Hunt Foxhound Performance Trials.  /   Video by Marion Latta de Vogel

The first of ten foxhound performance trials scheduled across North America this season is history. Millbrook Hunt (NY) hosted the 2021/2022 opener on September 8 and 9, 2021. Participants enjoyed superb weather, gorgeous country, exciting sport, and Millbrook’s unparalleled hospitality.

The first nine trials are qualifiers for the tenth and final Grand Championship Trials. That final showdown is scheduled for March 26 and 27, 2022, in Hoffman, North Carolina, where a national champion and the top ten foxhounds countrywide will be recognized.

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ellen emmet rand.mary foote.1907Ellen Emmet Rand painted by Mary Foote in 1907A 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.

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nyd18.champBest in Show is Millbrook Hunt’s Galaxy (right) with Erin McKenney, whipper-in. At the left is Windy Hollow Hunt's Riley in Reserve, with huntsman Chris Burrowswood.  /   Becca Loyche photo

The 2018 New York District Puppy Show, hosted by the Old Chatham Hunt (NY), was held at Valley View Farm, courtesy of Doe Hee Kim and Michael Leder, on May 20, 2018. The day dawned with cloudy skies that, upon the start of the show, turned to a steady rain with temperatures in the low fifties. Not the nicest of spring days in the Old Chatham foxhunting country west of the Berkshire Mountains in Massachusetts.

Old Chatham Master Jef Murdock and his members were prepared, however, and the show was moved into a spacious tent. Participating hunts were Golden’s Bridge Hounds, Millbrook Hunt, Rombout Hunt, Windy Hollow Hunt, and the hosts, Old Chatham Hunt.

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rhoda hopkins2Rhoda Hopkins, one of the first female professional huntsmen* in North America, died peacefully on June 18, 2017. She was eighty-eight.

Rhoda hunted the Fairfield County Hounds (CT) for fifteen years, from 1979 to 1994. Her pack of Penn-Marydel foxhounds provided excellent sport in the field, and excelled at the hound shows, winning the Pack Class at Bryn Mawr for seven consecutive seasons. Hers were the first Penn-Marydels I ever hunted behind, and I remember galloping as fast to keep up as I have behind any other pack of foxhounds since.

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jef murdock.kleckNewly appointed Old Chatham MFH Jef Murdock tells how it feels to hunt hounds for the very first time. / Nancy Kleck photoOn a recent Saturday the Old Chatham Hunt (NY) had a rare hunting day. Hounds ran their first coyote hard for an hour before huntsman and staff had to stop them from going into country where it was difficult to follow. Hounds then found another coyote and ran it through their wooded country in fine voice for another forty-five minutes to finish an excellent day of hunting. What’s remarkable about that? one might ask. Nothing, except that the huntsman had never hunted a pack of hounds before in his life until that day.

At the end of last season, Old Chatham members made some difficult and controversial organizational changes in an effort to improve their sport. A new huntsman—Tommy Hopkins—was named, and a new Master—Jef Murdock—was appointed. Hopkins had been whipping-in for years and was familiar with the hounds, but Murdock, though he’d been following hounds as a field member for years, was better known for his skiing acumen—he owns the popular Butternut ski area in the Berkshire Mountains of Massachusetts—than for his prowess with foxhounds.

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