Fox Hunting Life with Horse and Hound

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Orange County Hunt

orangecounty

Fauquier County, Virginia

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20110129_0485J.B. Birdsall (holding trophy) is flanked by the Farmington Masters (l-r) Carol Easter, Pat Butterfield, and Joy Crompton. Cheryl Microutsicos photo

The Farmington Hunt and J.B. Birdsall received the 2011 Hunting Habitat Conservation Award at the MFHA Annual Meeting in New York City on Friday January 28.

Each year with each recipient of this award we witness yet another testament to the role of foxhunting in the preservation of open space. Arguably no other sporting culture has done as much to preserve land and natural habitat.

But, it often takes a leader, an individual driving force, to establish a culture of conservation within an organization. J.B. Birdsall—longtime foxhunter, landowner, and hunt member—provided that passion, commitment, and leadership for the Farmington Hunt to become a force for open space conservation in their hunting country.

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arundel.nick.douglas.leesArthur "Nck" Arundel at the Gold Cup Races, Great Meadow, 2007               Douglas Lees photo

Foxhunter, visionary, and publisher Arthur “Nick” Arundel died in his sleep at home on Tuesday, February 8, one day shy of being named Outstanding Virginian of 2011 by the Virginia General Assembly. He was eighty-three.

Mr. Arundel was publisher of the Times Community Newspapers covering four counties in Northern Virginia, including Loudoun and Fauquier.

His father was a foxhunter and once served as head of the National Steeplechase and Hunt Association. His mother was an ardent conservationist. Mr. Arundel merged the influence of both parents into his life.

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Gathering of First Flight juniors before their mock hunt moved off.
Gathering of First Flight juniors before their mock hunt moved off.
Lauren Giannini photo

For their first seven years, the Junior North American Field Hunter Championships took place in Virginia, mostly at Old Whitewood, part of Orange County's country in The Plains. However, after Alex Matz won the First Flight (12-and-Under) championship in 2009, the notion of staging the next finals in Mr. Stewart's Cheshire country came to fruition. Blue Ridge Hunt's David Pawlak partnered with the indubitable Paris to ace the individual test in the First Flight and claim their second consecutive 13-18 championship. Makayla Benjamin (Loudoun West) and Butterfly Painting went home with the reserve tri-color.

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Gathering of First Flight juniors before their mock hunt moved off.
Gathering of First Flight juniors before their mock hunt moved off.
Lauren Giannini photo

For their first seven years, the Junior North American Field Hunter Championships took place in Virginia, mostly at Old Whitewood, part of Orange County's country in The Plains. However, after Alex Matz won the First Flight (12-and-Under) championship in 2009, the notion of staging the next finals in Mr. Stewart's Cheshire country came to fruition. Blue Ridge Hunt's David Pawlak partnered with the indubitable Paris to ace the individual test in the First Flight and claim their second consecutive 13-18 championship. Makayla Benjamin (Loudoun West) and Butterfly Painting went home with the reserve tri-color.

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DSC_1688
Melvin Poe celebrating his ninetieth birthday
Douglas Lees photo

Hounds were screaming, and the huntsman was cooking. A cattle guard loomed ahead—a coop to the left and a gate to the right. The huntsman veered left.

"Melvin," someone yelled, "the gate’s on the right!"

"Melvin just kept kicking on, right over the coop," recalled Joe Conner, shaking his head and grinning in wonder.

Conner, who has whipped-in to Melvin for years at Bath County (VA), didn’t resurrect that story out of a distant past. It had happened only weeks before Melvin Poe’s ninetieth birthday celebration.

A month or so earlier, I had recognized the same notes of awe and wonder as I stood chatting with Brian Smith, my farrier, about Melvin’s upcoming ninetieth birthday.

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