Fox Hunting Life with Horse and Hound

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Old Dominion Hounds

olddominion

Fauquier County, Virginia

Website: facebook page


shannon mackenzie2.doug leesShannon MacKenzie's professional life progressed from the confines of the office to the open spaces. /  Douglas Lees photoThe horse industry is historic, even old-fashioned; the foxhunting world is more so. But follow Shannon MacKenzie’s journey from her native Canada to Virginia’s storied hunting country, and find a surprisingly modern twist to the tale. Facebook played a part.

MacKenzie first found out via a Facebook chat last year about an open slot for a professional first whipper-in at the Old Dominion Hounds (VA). It was a job she felt her skill set would serve, but it was a position she’d never held.

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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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ddl fox huntingWhipping-in on Fearnought, the author's favorite.Cold and wet from rain on my thirty-six-inch pony Toy Mouse, with my fearless two-legged leader...mom Caroline...at the other end of the lead-line: that’s how I became addicted to a sport known as foxhunting. When we got in from hunting, my wool hunt coat weighed more than I did.

Since then, every autumn, from age four until now (not going to disclose that, but I’ve finished college!), there is a sense of anticipation and adrenaline that rushes through my veins. Foxhunters know how the goose bumps rise on your skin the moment those hunting hounds open up on a fresh scent of a fox or coyote, and away they go! This adrenaline rush only multiples, if you can believe it, when a person is allowed to have the honor of being a whipper-in.

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bucky reynolds and kim nash.lees(Front) "Bucky" Reynolds and Kimbrough Nash, MFH, out with the Warrenton foxhounds / Douglas Lees photo

Famed horseman J. Arthur “Bucky” Reynolds died Monday, July 24, 2017, after a long illness. He was seventy-eight.

Bucky grew up in Tryon, North Carolina. His father J. Arthur Reynolds, Sr., a native of Orange, Virginia, was huntsman of the Tryon Hounds at the time. Both Bucky and his sister Betty Reynolds Oare grew up foxhunting and showing. Reynolds, Sr., a professional horseman, ran his own boarding and training facility. Bucky and his sister learned to ride under their father’s instruction, and both siblings helped break and train the sale horses as children. Each of the three—father, son, and daughter—have been inducted into the National Show Hunter Hall of Fame.

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