Fox Hunting Life with Horse and Hound
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FHL WEEK, May 28, 2019

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This Week in...

...Norm Fine’s Blog

New Exhibits at Museum of Hounds and Hunting: One Master’s Retirement Project
Twelve ancient wooden toy horses lovingly restored by Meg Gardner, ex-MFH, and 12 paintings by 12 sporting artists. (pg. 2)

How to Photograph Foxhounds
Six steps to properly photograph hound show champions so that houndsmen may see their conformation points. (pg. 4)


Albert Poe, Dead at 87
The finest American-born professional breeder of foxhounds of our time, consummate huntsman, articulate teacher, lived life on his own terms. (pg. 7)


Bedford County Detroit Is Grand Champion at Carolinas
Are Penn-Marydels replacing the old Virginia type in the breeding of Crossbreds down south? (pg. 10)

Harvard Goneaway Is Grand Champion at Central States
The system works when generous Masters and huntsmen at the top breeding kennels draft good hounds on, unselfishly. (pg. 12)




New Exhibits at Museum of Hounds and Hunting: One Master’s Retirement Project

Norm Fine's Blog

meg gardner toy horse

I’m looking forward to the new exhibits at the Museum of Hounds and Hunting. They’ll open the day before the Virginia Foxhound Show at Morven Park, Saturday afternoon, May 25, 2019 at 4:00 pm. In addition to the permanent exhibits, including the hallowed Huntsmen’s Room, visitors will see twelve ancient wooden toy horses lovingly restored by Meg Gardner, ex-MFH and Field Master of the Middleburg Hunt (VA). Meg retired as Master in 1994.

She was a superb horsewoman and adventurous Field Master. I followed her over a five-foot stone wall once—yes, someone measured it—and we weren’t even running at the time. In cold blood. Just something she decided to do for a lark. No panel. No rider. Just a solid stone wall. But as for artistic restoration of wooden rocking horses? Who knew?

Meg was born in England, and—as were all British citizens during the war years there—she was deprived. The six-year-old longed for a toy horse, but such luxuries weren’t being manufactured at the time. Now, after a long career as a foxhunter, MFH, horse trainer, side saddle and jumper competitor nationally, she is committed to elaborate gardening and horse rescue. Toy horse rescue, that is. Finding fine examples of old rocking, gliding, and wheeled wooden horses and rehabilitating them.

John Head, a member of the Museum’s Advisory Committee, explains the roots of these toy horses which came in several forms for children and will be on display.

“Toy horses excavated in ancient Persia, Greece, Rome, and the Far East, made from bronze, terracotta and wood are well documented. Designs in each culture often include wheels for push or pull action. Rocking motion came later.

“The Victoria and Albert Museum features an English Elm bow rocking horse, c. 1610, possibly belonging in childhood to King Charles I. On a bow horse a spirited rider could propel around a room or palace. Trestle gliders, which parents liked for their stationary safety, became popular in the mid-nineteenth century. Creative play in a world of make-believe is also part of the toy rocking horse’s appeal.

“Meg Gardner’s Rescued Rocking Horses feature wheeled, bow rocker, and glider horses belonging to young children in Europe and America in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. Each was found discarded, ready for repair, and has been returned to near original condition. Over the past ten years, Mrs. Gardner has performed all of the necessary repairs herself, sometimes commissioning a new saddle or bridle.

“Growing up in England, Meg did not have a rocking horse; they were not made during World War II. Ponies and horses were also scarce. Her foxhunting experiences began at age five on hired ponies, and she rode throughout her youth, finally receiving a horse of her very own at age fifteen. Some years later, Meg moved to Middleburg to continue pursuing her passion for horses. Boarding, training, showing, and making field hunters for many years, Mrs. Gardner was Master of the Middleburg Hunt from 1984 to 1994.

“A lifelong passion for horses now includes the rescue and restoration of toy horses.

“The Museum is proud to present the first public exhibition of Meg Gardner’s restoration efforts. Even in repose these unique toys still evoke childhood fun and dreams.”

A sporting art exhibit and sale will also open, consisting of twelve paintings by twelve familiar and talented sporting artists. Both exhibits will run through June 30th. Stay for the reception at 5:00 pm and relax at a table on the mansion portico.

Posted May 15, 2019

How to Photograph Foxhounds

Norm Fine's Blog

canadian17.toronto north yorks blue ridge wentworthThe conformation of Toronto and North York's Blue Ridge Wentworth 2015, Grand Champion Foxhound at the 2017 Canadian Foxhound Show, is clearly seen in this well-posed photograph. / Denya Massey photo

Hound show champions should be photographed so their conformation is clearly visible to potential foxhound breeders, hound enthusiasts, and the historical record. The champions should be memorialized in a fashion such that others may see what the judges saw, as they carefully and critically studied each hound presented.

Historically, that has been the practice, and hound show organizers might want to remind show photographers of their primary mission at the hound show. Yes, we also want to see the smiling faces of the Masters, handlers, distinguished trophy presenters, and judges, along with candid shots of attendees enjoying the day. Those are also important and of interest to many viewers, but a classical portrait of the hound champions is Job-1. What follows are six-steps to achieve the image foxhound enthusiasts want to see.

Of course, there are those experienced photographers who are expert at photographing four-legged animals, both hounds and horses. The basics are pretty similar. Editors of sporting magazines—those who cover dogs, hounds, horses—love those photographers. They make us proud by providing images for publication comparable to our unforgettable prose. So, here are some basic guidelines for shooting hound champion portraits at hound shows, even those that include all the smiling faces.

fox river valley nightcap 2009The incomparable Jim Meads captured this portrait of Fox River Valley Nightcap 2009 when she was judged Grand Champion at the Southern Hound Show in 2011.

To the photographer, then. Since you are carrying a camera, I will assume you know all about light, shadow, composition, ugly backgrounds, shutter speed, apertures, and such. Here is only what you need to know about shooting a hound portrait for the benefit of houndsmen.

And, yes, it is the duty of the handler to present the hound properly to the photographer. But since live animals tend to move around, the photographer needs to know when to shoot, and when not to shoot the image.

1. Face the hound squarely broadside (or as close to broadside as you can get). Ideally, you and your camera want to be perpendicular to the axis of the hound. If the photo is taken from too much of a forward angle or too much from a rear angle, perspective may distort the hound’s conformation.

2. Crouch down closer to hound level so perspective doesn’t foreshorten the legs.

3. The foreleg closest to the camera should be vertical to show the hound’s front end angles (shoulder to point of chest to elbow) best. If the pose isn’t ideal, at least one of the front legs should be vertical. The other foreleg may be either vertical or slightly behind.

4. The hind leg closest to the camera should be vertical from the hock down (to show off the shape of the gaskin and a well let-down hock).

5. Head and neck should be in profile, extended naturally.

6. Otherwise, don’t shoot! Instead, make a courteous suggestion to the handler. As in, “Could you please stand your dog up for me?” Or kind words of your own choosing, if you want to remain friends.

This is the ideal pose for the hound. The shot available to you will not always be ideal, but a study of the photos accompanying this article should give you a standard to strive for. There is even some leeway in less than ideal poses that still result in useful shots.

Foxhunting Life will be happy to furnish copies of this article to photographers and to hound show organizers for the guidance of their photographers. These tips should benefit any new hound show photographer, especially.

virfinia 2016.midland striker ch.smallNancy Kleck captured this excellent portrait of Midland Striker when he was judged Grand Champion at Virginia in 2016. chDetail from photo above. Midland huntsman Ken George makes certain his hound is standing properly for the photo. / Nancy Kleck photo

Posted May 23, 2018


Albert Poe, Dead at 87


albertpoe.portrait.leesAlbert Poe was huntsman of the Middleburg Hunt (VA) for 15 years before retiring from an illustrious career breeding and hunting old Virgnia Bywaters type foxhounds. / Douglas Lees photo

Albert Poe died on Saturday night, May 18, 2019. He was arguably the finest American-born professional breeder of foxhounds of our time. Along with his brother, Melvin, the pair have to be considered the two most storied American-born professional huntsmen that any foxhunter living today could have followed across the country.

Melvin might have been considered the more gregarious personality, but Albert, in his quiet way, was extremely articulate. He could put into words the hunting wisdom which developed perhaps instinctively.

Born into a Virginia country family that raised its own hounds for hunting, Albert, his father, and his brothers all hunted for sport and for the table. The children of the family all had farm chores. Albert showed an early aptitude for horses, and was breaking and training ponies for his neighbors from an early age. There was no tractor, just horse power. Albert had to feed the cattle before school, and if he was running late he would jump onto his father’s horse and gallop to the bus stop, pat the horse on the rump, and send him home.

He began his professional career at the age of fifteen, whipping-in to his older brother, Melvin, at the Old Dominion Hounds (VA). Eight years later, at the age of twenty-three, Albert became the youngest professional huntsman in North America when he accepted an offer from Joint-Masters Mrs. A.C. Randolph and Paul Mellon to be the huntsman for the Piedmont Fox Hounds (VA). It was 1954, and the bloodlines Albert started breeding at Piedmont from the old Virginia Bywaters foxhound strain are the same bloodlines being bred at that hunt to this day. And countless American hunts breeding and hunting Crossbred packs today are still using the same Piedmont lines that Albert began developing in the mid-twentieth century.

“We certainly have a good many hounds in our kennel who come from old Piedmont lines that Albert developed from Bywater type hounds,” said Piedmont MFH Tad Zimmerman. "Interestingly, [current Piedmont huntsman] Jordan [Hicks] was weaned on this blood at Greenville County, where a lot of hounds were drafted over the years.”

Piedmont, then as now, was considered one of the finest packs in the world. For twenty-one years, Albert show the best of sport to a national and international Who’s Who of visitors. During Albert’s tenure as huntsman, the Piedmont Fox Hounds went from hunting two days a week to four days a week.

Piedmont only hunted on weekdays during the two-day-a-week period, which meant that Albert’s sons couldn’t hunt their ponies with him. He had beagles at home, so he invited all the kids in the neighborhood to bring their ponies and join him and his sons hunting rabbits on the weekend. The formidable Mrs. Randolph heard what Albert was up to, and told him she’d like to hunt with the beagles, too! He said he’d be happy to have her if she would be his Field Master, and Mrs. Randolph agreed.

Albert rated Mrs. Randolph, a transplanted New Englander, as the best Master he ever worked for. Unfortunately, their parting of the ways came over racehorses in 1974. He was spending more time training racehorses and she wasn’t happy about that. Everyone knew Mrs. Randolph was strong-willed, and, in his own way, Albert must have possessed some of that same iron. Here were two individuals with enormous talent and resources—each of a vastly different nature and position—but neither would bend to the other.

albertpoe.moving off.snake hill.leesHuntsman Albert Poe and the MIddleburg hounds moveoff from a meet at Snake Hill. / Douglas Lees photo

After the parting from Piedmont, Albert concentrated on training race horses, but soon returned to the hunting field to hunt hounds for Randy Rouse, MFH, at Fairfax Hunt (VA) for a few years, thence to the Middleburg Hunt (VA) in 1980. He remade the pack at Middleburg and carried the horn for fifteen years before closing his professional hunting career. He wasn’t through foxhunting, though.

After Melvin retired as huntsman at the Orange County Hunt (VA), Melvin maintained and hunted a private pack of foxhounds, the Bath County Hounds, for George Ohrstrom. With Albert’s help, the pack was ultimately filled with Albert’s foxhounds, and the two brothers continued to hunt. Perhaps they’re back together again and hunting now.

Funeral services will be in Middleburg, Virginia, at the Royston Funeral Home on Friday, May 24, at 1 o'clock. A private interment will take place in Leeds Cemetery at Markham, Virginia. In lieu of flowers, the family asks for donations to the MFHA's Hunt Staff Benefit Foundatrion (HSBF).

Posted May 21, 2019

Bedford County Detroit Is Grand Champion at Carolinas


carolinas19Grand Champion of Show, Bedford County Detroit 2017 with handler Laura Pitts.The 2019 Carolinas Hound Show was hosted by the Moore County Hounds on May 11th at Lyell’s Meadow in the Walthour Moss Foundation, a paradise for horsemen and naturalists in the sand hills of Southern Pines, NC. The Foundation was formed in 1974 by Pappy and Ginny Moss, MFHs of the Moore County Hounds (NC), as a charitable trust of 1,700 acres preserved in perpetuity. With additional gifts through the succeeding years from Ginny Moss and others, the Foundation now totals more than 4,000 acres and represents Moore County’s principal hunting country.

Hounds competed in three rings, Crossbred in Ring 1, Penn-Marydel in Ring 2, and English, American, and Foot packs in Ring 3. That one ring is dedicated entirely to Penn-Marydel hounds, and English and American foxhounds are combined in one ring with foot hounds, strikes this reporter as a noteworthy indication of the growing affinity for Penn-Marydel foxhounds amongst North American hunts well outside of the breed’s native region of Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Delaware. Concomitantly, the consequence must be a reduction in the numbers of Pure English and American types now being hunted in these southern Atlantic states.

Dr. Jack Van Nagell, MFH, Iroquois Hunt (KY) judged the Crossbreds in Ring 1; Jake Carle, ex-MFH and huntsman, Keswick Hunt (VA) judged the Penn-Marydels in Ring 2; and MFHA president Tony Leahy, MFH, Fox River Valley Hunt (IL), judged in the English, American, and Foot Pack Ring. Lt. Col. Dennis Foster, former Executive Director of the MFHA judged the Unentered Championship and Grand Championship classes and the Juniors. MFHA Executive Director David Twiggs and Adrianna Waddy were Apprentice Judges.

For the Grand Champion Foxhound of Show, Judge Foster pointed at Bedford County Detroit 2017 (Shakerag Grenadier 2012 ex Moore County Dita Vonteese 2014), a fine-looking young Crossbred dog hound that has completed two seasons of hunting. Both tail male and tail female lines are mainly Penn-Marydel—Shakerag on top, Moore County, Millbrook, and Red Mountain on the bottom.

“He’s such a happy dog,” said Bedford County huntsman Larry Pitts. One of the most successful breeders of top showing and performing American hounds during his long career at Potomac Hunt (MD), Larry was one of the relatively few huntsmen in North America still committed to maintaining the old traditional pure American bloodlines as distinguished from the Penn-Marydel type. Larry has an open mind, though. “I’ll probably breed him in a year,” he said, “most likely to a Penn-Marydel.”

If Detroit should sire a litter of pups, I can’t refrain from nominating the name, Nathan, for one of the males in the litter: Nathan Detroit was a Damon Runyon-inspired character in Guys and Dolls, who ran “The Oldest Established Permanent Floating Crap Game in New York.” Nathan’s part was played by Frank Sinatra in Frank Loesser’s Oscar-winning musical. (Of course, names like Olds, Caddie, and Chevvie would also work!)

“He has a bubbling personality...never down,” Larry says. “If he does something wrong, you just have to tell him, and he won’t do it again. He has no bad habits. I never have to tell him twice what I want. And, he’s always so happy! I showed him last year, and all he wanted to do was play with the other hounds in the ring. My daughter, Laura, showed him this year; she has really done well with him.”

Detroit gets his English blood in the middle of the pedigree on the male side, which goes back to a double dose of Duke of Beaufort Mostyn 1992, a highly regarded sire of superbly performing hounds in the field both in England and the U.S. Interestingly, last year’s Grand Champion foxhound at Carolinas, Deep Run Warrior 2015, also went back to Duke of Beaufort Mostyn.

Foxhounds were entered at Carolinas by Aiken Hounds (SC), Bedford County Hunt (VA), Camden Hunt (SC), Goodwin Hounds (NC), Goshen Hounds (MD), Green Creek Hounds (SC), Lowcountry Hunt (SC), Moore County Hounds (NC), Princess Anne Hunt (VA), Red Mountain Foxhounds (NC), Red Oak Foxhounds (VA), Sedgefield Hunt (NC), Whiskey Road Foxhounds (SC), and Wiggins Hounds (SC).

Click for complete results.

Posted May 17, 2019

Harvard Goneaway Is Grand Champion at Central States


central states 19.angela fainStanding with Grand Champion Harvard Goneaway 2018 are (l-r): J. Nick Badgerow, Steward and Show Chair; Judge Graham Buston, huntsman, Blue Ridge Hunt; and Harvard Fox Hounds member Angela Heinz. / Angela Fain photoThe Central States hound Show was held on May 4, 2019 in Stilwell, Kansas, hosted by the Leavenworth Hunt. Hounds from six hunts were shown: Brazos Valley Hounds (TX), Bridlespur Hunt (MO), Fort Leavenworth Hunt (KS), Harvard Fox Hounds (OK), Mission Valley Hunt (KS), and North Hills Hunt (NE). Hounds were judged by Graham Buston, huntsman, Blue Ridge Hunt (VA).

Brazos Valley was the high scoring hunt for the day and was gunning for its third consecutive Grand Championship at Central States, but it was not to be. Grand Champion of Show was Harvard Goneaway 2018, drafted unentered by Hillsboro Hounds (TN) to Harvard and entered last season. Goneaway’s male line is highly prepotent, as we will see, and Goneaway’s story serves as a fine example of how the system is supposed to work: top breeding kennels generously drafting well-bred hounds to bolster other packs around the country.

“Goneaway has very good conformation,” said Judge Buston. “He was confident, he moved well, and showed himself well. He was active in his movement and always watching his handler.”

“I'm really impressed with the [Hillsboro] bloodlines,” said Fort Leavenworth Master Dr. Steven L. Thomas, “and also their generosity in sharing. I have quite a bit of Hillsboro blood in my kennel now and I’m very happy with it.”

Indeed, the Hillsboro kennels where Goneaway was whelped is one of today’s premier breeding kennels, consistently producing champions and grand champions at the Southern Hound Show, Virginia, and Bryn Mawr. Goneaway’s pedigree is a good example of the depth and quality of the bloodlines to be found at Hillsboro.

Goneaway's sire is Hillsboro Godfrey 2016. Godfrey was the Grand Champion Foxhound at the Southern Hound Show in 2017. The year before that, then being shown unentered by Fox River Valley Hunt (IL) where he was bred, Godfrey was judged Champion Unentered Hound at the Southern Hound Show. Godfrey was generously drafted to Hillsboro by Tony Leahy, MFH, Fox River Valley, another top breeding North American kennel. The Southern Hound Show, the first show of the season, is a small show, but the quality is immense. Nine of the last twelve Grand Champions at Virginia were Grand Champions at the Southern Hound Show first!

Going back one more generation in Goneaway’s tail mail line is his grand-sire, South Shropshire Goblin 2012, an English dog hound imported from the UK by MFHA President Tony Leahy. Goblin goes back two more generations to Duke of Beaufort Bailey 2003. Bailey was one of the most prepotent sires in England, appearing in the tail male lines of many Champion hounds both here and abroad.

According to Daphne Wood, Bailey bred more than ninety bi*ches during his last year standing in England, before being drafted to the Toronto and North York Hunt in Canada. Martin Scott, ex-MFH, Vale of the White Horse (UK), one of England’s leading breeders and judges of foxhound, refers to Bailey as arguably the most influential hound in England in recent years.

Bailey was a champion at Peterborough as was his dam, Duke of Beaufort’s Patience 1998. Bailey is also the grandsire of Canadian Hound Show Grand Champions, Toronto and North York Cleopatra 2012 and Clarence 2012.

Scott notes that Bailey’s male line goes back to Heythrop Busby 1996, another highly influential sire in his time, as well as to College Valley/North Northumberland Grafter 1989 from one of the most influential hill hound kennels in England, and regarded as an outcross and valued highly for his work in the field.

Goneaway’s tail female line goes back to Modern English lines from the Heythrop kennels in England, the bloodlines of which were carefully crafted by the late Captain Ronnie Wallace, England’s most acclaimed hound breeder of the latter half of the twentieth century.

Goneaway’s dam’s tail male line goes back to Fox River Valley Keystone, a Crossbred dog hound bred by Tony Leahy. Top breeding kennels like Hillsboro and Fox River Valley carefully preserve those bloodlines that descend from superior foxhounds of the past, which prove able to pass along and reproduce the good traits which they desire.

Posted May 13, 2019