Fox Hunting Life with Horse and Hound

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Orange County Hunt

orangecounty

Fauquier County, Virginia

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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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henry higginson paintingAlexander Henry Higginson, MFHAn Old Sportsman’s Memories, the autobiography written by A. Henry Higginson and J. Stanley Reeve tells the story of a proper Bostonian, Harvard class of 1898, who turned his back on a life of commerce, finance, and philanthropy—the route traditionally followed by New England men such as he. Smitten by the sport of foxhunting to the exclusion of all else, and with the support of his indulgent father, A. Henry Higginson followed his dream: a life of foxhunting.

His father, Major Henry Lee Higginson, more than fulfilled the family’s responsibilities to his community by his own philanthropy. The elder Higginson had dreamt of being a musician in his younger years, but Puritan Boston expected other things from her sons, and so he became a businessman as was expected. In time, he founded the Boston Symphony Orchestra, however, and was its earliest administrator.

He organized the corporation that built Symphony Hall, the first auditorium designed in accordance with scientifically derived acoustical principles. It is, as a result, widely regarded as one of the top concert halls in the world. Interestingly, with all the architectural flourishes of the period that architects McKim, Mead & White could bring to their creation in the year 1900, the structure displays only one composer’s name upon a large shield mounted on a frieze centered above the stage—Beethoven. There are other smaller shields upon the frieze framing the stage, but they are still blank! Boston is a careful and thoughtful old city.

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 Photos by Douglas Lees

och19.open hurdle(l-r) Menacing Dennis (Aaron Sinnott up) finishes first; Ack Feisty (Jacob Roberts up) is third in the Open Hurdle.

Julie Gomena-trained horses swept three of the seven races for three different owners with three different riders at the Orange County Point-to-Point on Sunday, March 31, 2019: Maiden Flat (second race), Open Hurdle (fifth race), and the Open Timber (sixth race). Racing was run over the Locust Hill Farm racecourse in Middleburg, Virginia:

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Photograph by Liz Callar

ochfox.small.callar

Photographer Liz Callar says this was “just a great moment after trying for ten years to get a great Orange County fox!”

Liz not only captured her fox—one that invites me to rub my hands on its fur—but a photograph that includes all the colors of nature both in crisp focus and in fuzzy pastels. Every color in the visible spectrum is represented in this lovely composition of a graceful and healthy fox standing alertly in the midst of its natural world.

Click for larger image.

Posted December 26, 2018

trfhc18.wittenborn.leesJohn Wittenborn and Soccer, representing the Smithtown Hunt (NY), win 2018 Theodora Randolph Field Hunter Championship in Virginia.

John Wittenborn and his fourteen-year-old Clydesdale-Thoroughbred cross, Soccer, returned home to Long Island and the Smithtown Hunt with the Championship Trophy and ribbon from the Theodora Randolph 2018 Field Hunter Championship in Virginia. Three tries was the charm for Wittenborn and Soccer. Last year the pair made a good showing, placing third.

It was the first team from a northern hunt to have won the coveted prize in thirty-five years of competitions. And it was fitting; Mrs. Randolph was a northerner, though from Boston’s North Shore.

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