Fox Hunting Life with Horse and Hound

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Orange County Hunt

orangecounty

Fauquier County, Virginia

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spencer allen crop smallHuntsman Spencer Allen / Douglas Lees photo

Huntsman Spencer Allen has gone through a rocky time in the past couple of years. He’s been forced to consider other options for his future, but he knows in his heart what he loves the most—working with and hunting foxhounds. And this is why he’s so happy to be in Monticello, Florida at Marty and Daphne Wood’s unparalleled establishment as huntsman for the Live Oak Hounds.

After serving six years in the Marine Corps, including a tour in Iraq, Allen began as an amateur whipper-in at the Bull Run Hunt (VA). Two seasons later he turned professional and moved to the Piedmont Fox Hounds (VA), serving four seasons as first whipper-in to huntsman Richard Roberts. Allen found himself working with a talented and attractive whipper-in, Rachel Gray, who also happened to be the daughter of the previous huntsman, Butch Gray. Spencer and Rachel were married, and in 2010 Spencer was named huntsman at Piedmont. He hunted the Piedmont hounds for five seasons, showing excellent sport, but trouble followed.

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backer at nslleessmallBill Backer, singing one of his foxhunting ditties while accompanying himself at the keyboard, at the National Sporting Library & Museum. / Douglas Lees photoWilliam M. Backer, a foxhunting man who put phrases and tunes on the lips of people in every corner of the globe, died in Warrenton, Virginia on Friday, May 13, 2016, after a short illness.

A member of the Advertising Hall of Fame, Bill Backer created iconic advertising campaigns such as the 1971 Coca Cola commercial featuring his jingle, "I'd like to Teach the World to Sing." Click for a televised clip of Bill being interviewed for and playing what is arguably the most famous commercial of all time.

Bill added “Miller Time" to the language of those who needed a substitute for “cocktail hour” and created the long-running television argument for Miller Lite: “Tastes Great; Less Filling,” one of the best-liked campaigns in the history of advertising. For Campbell Soup, he persuaded customers that "Soup is good food."

Bill was a longtime member of the Orange County Hunt (VA) and served on the Board of Stewards for fifty years, part of that time as President. At his Smitten Farm in The Plains, Virginia he bred and raised racehorses and was an active member of the Jockey Club and the Virginia Thoroughbred Association.

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och16.nov timberNovice Timber (l-r): Zanclus (Kieran Norris) first, Le Chevalier (Mark Beecher) second / Douglas Lees photo

Trainer Neil Morris made the best of his home turf advantage by saddling three winners on the five-race card at the Orange County Point-to-Point on Sunday, April 3, 2016.

In Novice Timber, the only race over fences, Morris-trained Zanclus won his second timber race in just two Virginia starts this season, both under Kieran Norris. His earlier win was at Blue Ridge. Le Chevalier, ridden by Mark Beecher, winner of the Novice Timber at Warrenton two weeks earlier, mounted a strong challenge in the stretch, but Zanclus prevailed at the wire by a neck.

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bundles murdock.leesCatherine “Bundles” Murdock is the lady to seek out when paying your cap at Orange County. Be sure to observe proper protocol by enclosing your check in an envelope with your name and address. Ms. Murdock is one field secretary who knows her protocol! / Douglas Lees photoIn a recent article in the Loudoun Times-Mirror, Billie Van Pay wrote, “Almost everyone in horse country knows Catherine ‘Bundles’ C. Murdock, a fourth-generation member of a family well-known for its community leadership and for helping make the area known for its foxhunting.”

Indeed, Murdock is a long-time member of the Middleburg, Virginia community and the Orange County Hounds, serving as honorary secretary, field secretary, and road whip. And “almost everyone in horse country” does know her. But Murdock knows everyone else. Like Barbara and George Bush, Mikhail Gorbachev, and Queen Elizabeth to name a few.

Murdock was born in New York, but Middleburg has always been home. Her grandfather William Philander “Pappy” Hulbert came to Middleburg more than one hundred years ago, and her mother grew up on the family farm, Stonehedge, before her.

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joe whited.Michelle OHanlon ArnoldJoe Whited (right) and the author in the Old Dominion field  /   Michelle OHanlon Arnold photo

A foxhunter and conservationist with an impressive background in foreign affairs is seeking the Republican nomination for Virginia's Fifth Congressional District seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Joe Whited, thirty-six, has mounted a campaign for the Republican nomination, one of four vying for the seat being vacated by Representative Robert Hurt (R). Whited wears the colors of the Old Dominion Hounds (VA) and helps run the club's annual point-to-point. His first race, however, will be purely political—the Republican primary in April.

Virginia’s Fifth District is the Commonwealth’s largest. The pie-shaped wedge includes much of Virginia hunt country, including territory of Piedmont, Orange County, Warrenton, Casanova, Old Dominion, Rappahannock, Thornton Hill-Fort Valley, Bull Run, Keswick, Farmington, Deep Run, Oak Ridge, Stonewall, Bedford, and Red Oak in Virginia, just north of Sedgefield and Red Mountain in North Carolina.

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