With the 2020 events calendar at sixes and sevens for sporting events worldwide, Old Dominion Hounds’ annual Point-to-Point Races at Ben Venue came off on September 12th in the fall of the year rather than in the spring. The good news that some point-to-points are coming off at all is testament to the fact that we are trying to learn how to co-exist with a new reality. Not ideally, to be sure, but we are testing boundaries and, hopefully, learning what works and not what doesn’t.
The fact that most of the ten races on the day’s card were well-filled with entries demonstrates a heartfelt desire for a return to normalcy, but the many horses pulled up during the course of so many of the jump races also demonstrates the training difficulties encountered this year.
De La Brooke Pony Club topped seven North American Pony Clubs in the annual United States Pony Club Foxhunting Challenge Award. Marty and Daphne Wood, Joint-Masters of the Live Oak Hounds (FL), established and funded the annual Challenge Award to reward those Pony Clubs and hunts across North America that work together proactively in giving Pony Clubbers the opportunity to foxhunt.
Last season seven Pony Clubs and their local hunts accepted the Challenge, accounting for more than 420 days in the hunting fields for the young riders. In order of the Award placings, the Pony Clubs are: De La Brooke Pony Club, hunting with the De La Brooke Foxhounds (MD); St. Margaret’s, hunting with the Marlborough Hunt (MD); Ochlockonee, hunting with the Live Oak Hunt (FL); Blue Mountain, hunting with the Rose Tree-Blue Mountain Hunt (PA); Old Dominion, hunting with the Old Dominion Hounds (VA); Cedar Knob, hunting with the Cedar Knob Hounds (TN); and Portneuf Valley, hunting with the Red Rock Hounds (NV). The top participating Pony Clubs receive cash awards donated by the Woods.
It’s time for our annual report on the recent moves of huntsmen across North America. The huntsman is my hero. From the time we mount up and for the few hours that follow, it is he or she most directly responsible for the day’s sport. How the huntsman has bred, trained, deployed, and communicated with his troops—the hounds—has everything to do with the satisfaction of our day in the field.
The moves have been numerous this season, and, in a two cases, we have experienced whippers-in finally achieving their dream of a pack of their own to hunt. We’ll catch up with Alasdair Storer, Andrew Bozdan, Kathryn Butler, Stephen Farrin, Danny Kerr, Emily Melton, and Timothy Michel.
More than six hundred foxhounds from thirty-seven hunts were exhibited at the Virginia Foxhound Show at Morven Park on Sunday, May 26, 2019, over the Labor Day Weekend. Hunts from thirteen states up and down the Eastern Seaboard and from as far away as Texas brought foxhounds to stand up against the finest examples of their breeds in North America. It is the largest foxhound show in the world.
In the always exciting final class of the show, four foxhound Champions—American, English, Crossbred, and Penn-Marydel—presented themselves to be judged for this year’s Grand Championship Class. It’s always a difficult class to judge because each entry has already been winnowed down throughout the day’s classes and has been chosen as the best specimen of its type by the judges in each ring. Each hound is deserving, and the attention and hopes of all spectators, though friendly, are ratcheted to a new level.
Albert Poe died on Saturday night, May 18, 2019. He was arguably the finest American-born professional breeder of foxhounds of our time. Along with his brother, Melvin, the pair have to be considered the two most storied American-born professional huntsmen that any foxhunter living today could have followed across the country.
Melvin might have been considered the more gregarious personality, but Albert, in his quiet way, was extremely articulate. He could put into words the hunting wisdom which developed perhaps instinctively.