Fox Hunting Life with Horse and Hound

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Old Dominion Hounds


Fauquier County, Virginia

Website: facebook page

jordan hicks.tryon.erik olsenHuntsman Jordan Hicks moves from the Tryon Hounds to the Piedmont Fox Hounds / Erik Olsen photoAs we approach the close of the 2014/2015 foxhunting season, here’s our report on thirteen hunts that have either hired or will require a new huntsman for next season. We have already featured personal close-ups of three of the migrating huntsmen—Guy Allman, Brian Kiely, and Graham Buston—and we plan to bring you more.

We invite readers to fill us in on any moves that we’ve missed. We also invite you to send us a personal profile on any of these huntsmen that we can publish as a feature article. Or, just send us the information, and we’ll write the story. Use the “Contact Us” link that appears at the bottom of every screen to communicate directly with me, and be sure to include your phone number.

What follows is foxhunting’s version of musical chairs.

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david semmes and field1Joint-Masters David Semmes and Mildred Riddell move off at the head of the Old Dominion field from a meet at the Honorable and Mrs. Joseph W. Barr's Houyhnhnm Farm near Hume, Virginia / Douglas Lees photo

David Hopkins Semmes—longtime Master of the Old Dominion Hounds (VA), amateur steeplechase rider, and deep-water sailor—died peacefully at his home, Indian Run Farm, near Flint Hill, Virginia, on New Years Day, just four days shy of his eighty-seventh birthday.

Born in Washington, D.C., Semmes graduated from Episcopal High School then served a tour of duty in World War II as an aviation radio crewman. He graduated from Princeton in 1949, and in 1950 served in Army intelligence on the Pusan perimeter during the Korean conflict. He worked as a government service officer in Japan, Taiwan, and Hong Kong before returning to Washington to practice law.

Semmes managed intellectual property for forty-one years, notably patenting the so-called “black box” used on airplanes, and the technology used for protective vests for jockeys.

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ashland bassets1The Ashland Bassets  /  Susan Monticelli photoWhen not following foxhounds on horseback, many foxhunters and their like-minded friends can be found following their local basset or beagle pack on foot—a perfect way to continue enjoying sport and a country lifestyle. Any foxhunter who thrills to the cry of foxhounds and hasn’t yet heard a pack of bassets in full cry must try a day’s hunting behind these wonderful hounds!

Even after dismounting from the saddle on a Saturday, many still yearn to hunt on before returning to an office on Monday. There are others who have hung up their tack for various reasons, and some who have never hunted astride yet love being outdoors on fall and winter afternoons. For all these sportsmen and women, the Ashland Bassets—hunting the territories of the Casanova, Old Dominion, Orange County, and Warrenton foxhound packs in Virginia—have provided a welcome window through which to extend one's weekend enjoyment of the countryside and venery.

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stu grod2.julie stuart segerJulie Stuart Seger photoStuart Grod—popular field member of the Fairfield County Hounds (CT)—has retired after forty-three consecutive seasons hunting in the first flight. A retirement party was held in Stu’s honor at the hunt’s clubhouse on November 22, 2014, where well-known food and travel author Michael Stern read a poem he composed for the occasion.

"Build a bridge with your hands on the mane;"
"Trot smooth as you head for the jump;"
"Go light when your hands hold the reins;"
"And don't crowd on the lead horse's rump:"

Just some of Stu's tips I've acquired
Since I started to ride with you folks.
I'll miss you up there, you strange country squire
With your bright eyes, your wisdom, and jokes.

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Cubhunting is in full swing and it’s time to be publishing hunt reports once again. Here’s one from an honorary whipper-in to the Old Dominion Hounds (VA) about a good hunt on a clever fox. How are your hounds doing? Click to send us your story and photos.

odhhuntreportJohn Stuart (left), huntsman Ross Salter (center), honorary whipper-in Denya Dee Leake (right) watch the Old Dominion hounds speak to their line. / Michele Arnold photo

Promptly at 8:00 am huntsman Ross Salter sent hounds into covert, and by the time I got around the covert—which took no more than two minutes—hounds had opened. I galloped down the side of the road trying to stay in front of them just in case they shot over to cross the road. No sooner had I reached the end of the covert, out popped the fox!

It was a big, healthy red fox. I hollered, and hounds came flying. They crossed the road into Warrenton Hunt's country. I went around the left-hand side of the covert while Ross went through the middle. The fox ran all the way to the end of the woods and made a sharp right hand circle, heading back to where he had come from. He then made something close to a  serpentine through the woods, but the hounds never lost him. They kept the pressure on.

There is a small valley going through the woods and the fox really worked that valley. He kept crossing a small creek but still could not shake hounds off. He finally crossed a big road, and Ross thought he had better stop hounds before one got hit.

It had been a great cubhunting morning. We had run for about an hour and a half. All puppies and entered hounds were accounted for. We were smiling all the way home and so proud of the puppies!

Posted September 16, 2014

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