When a huntsman retires after a long and successful career hunting hounds for a respected hunting establishment, that vacuum creates a ripple effect throughout the hunting community. So it was when Larry Pitts retired after thirty-five seasons hunting hounds at the Potomac Hunt (MD). Pitts’s vacancy was filled by huntsman Brian Kiely from the Myopia Hunt (MA); the void at Myopia was filled by huntsman Philip Headdon from the Chagrin Valley Hunt (OH); and the Chagrin Valley opening will be filled this season by huntsman Mark McManus from the Ottawa Valley Hunt (ON).
During his time at Ottawa Valley, McManus definitely left his mark (pun intended). OVH Master Anne McKibbin lets sixteen-year-old whipper-in Carmen Powell-Sadik tell us how.
Mark is an enjoyable person to be around, with many a good story to tell depicting various scenes of humor and horror taken from an exciting and sometimes perilous life of foxhunting in his native Ireland. He remembers times of his childhood riding with his baby brother “sat in me lap” as he (much to his father’s chagrin) jumped the hedges!
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.
Drag hunting, according to conventional wisdom, is what a hunt does when its country is constricted by suburban development. Sometimes that’s true, but, more often, hunts follow a dragged line of man-laid scent because the Masters want to. And a few hunts have been doing it for more than a century.
Each type of hunting—live or drag—has its pluses and minuses, depending on the needs and priorities of the participants. Drag hunting offers a controlled hunting experience to the benefit of hounds, riders and landowners. With a judicious laying of the drag, hounds are safer because roads and other hazards can be avoided; farmer’s crops are protected from horse’s hooves; homeowners’ lawns and yards are not trampled; and small pets are safe from the attention of hounds (all assuming that hounds don’t riot).
For riders who seek a gallop over fences, drag hunting offers a more efficient use of time, with no standing on a windy hillside while hounds search a covert for a fox (which may or may not be found). Thus the drag-hunting day typically lasts about two to three hours, with guaranteed galloping and jumping, better suiting those with a busy schedule, rather than the three- to five-hour day usually consumed by the ebb and flow of live hunting.