Fox Hunting Life with Horse and Hound
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FHL WEEK, November 21, 2019

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Remembering Russell Clark and Other Sporting Families of Myopia


russel clarkRussell Burrage Clark of Hamilton, Massachusetts died peacefully at home on November 2, 2019. Russell served as MFH of the venerable Myopia Hunt (est. 1882) on Boston’s North Shore from 1975 to 1994 and was an avid polo player as well. A complete sportsman, as were many of the Myopians, Russell competed in every hunter trial and horse show in the state. If he didn’t have a made horse ready to go for an event, he’d pull a green horse out of the field and show up to participate anyway. Sitting tall and slim on his Thoroughbreds, Russell presented the image of sporting elegance.

In 1994, Russell Clark was elected Honorary Master, sharing that honor with only one other Master in the long history of the hunt, James W. Appleton. After I moved to Virginia from the Boston area, we would meet every so often at an MFHA function in New York and catch up on old times. Russell always finished the conversation with, “And didn’t we have fun!”

Russell’s father, Forrester “Tim” Clark, was one of the biggest, strongest, and most admired competitive Harvard athletes of his day In the late 1920s he was captain of the Harvard crew, played two-way tackle on the football team, and was a defensive standout.

In the 1970s, Tim Clark donated an entire family estate in Hamilton to the United States Equestrian Team upon which the three-day team established their training facility. The estate had stables, a racetrack, and housing for USET coach Jack LeGoff and the team. Tim Clark donated superb equine prospects to the team as well.

Despite his stature in a community that included another well-known foxhunter, General George S. Patton, Tim Clark had the self-confidence to be humble and down to earth. He passed away in the 1990s, and the last time I saw that tall, distinguished Boston Brahmin, then in his seventies, he was digging the latrines, unassisted, for the annual Myopia Horse Show.

With families like the Clarks and the Ayers, the town of Hamilton in the 1970s was the center of gravity for U.S. three-day competition and training. Neil Ayer, who preceded Russell as MFH at Myopia from 1868 to 1983, was president of the U.S. Combined Training Association. He and his wife Helen established the leading site for three-day competition in North America at their estate, Ledyard Farm. The first international three-day competitions in the country were hosted by the Ayers at Ledyard in the mid-1970s.

With Ledyard’s cross-country course only a twenty-minute hack from the three-day USET training estate donated by the Clark Family, team riders had convenient access to that storied Hamilton resource as well. The Clarks, the Ayers, and other sporting families at Myopia provided the United States with its halcyon days in international three-day competition.

Services for Russell Clark were held at The Christ Church in Hamilton on Saturday, November 9, 2019. Donations in Russell’s memory may be made to Essex County Green Belt.

Posted November 18, 2019