Fox Hunting Life with Horse and Hound

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Piedmont Fox Hounds

piedmont

Loudoun County, Virginia

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erskine bedfordThe late Erskine Bedford led the field brilliantly for the Piedmont Fox Hounds for many years.

A good Field Master is a blessing for any huntsman. The converse is equally true.

Have you ever wondered why your Field Master follows closely upon the huntsman and hounds at times, yet at other times keeps you further back than you, as a keen field member, would like? A good Field Master is always dancing between what he or she knows you want and what he/she knows the huntsman needs.

Good Field Masters ride well, of course, and are confident in their ability to jump whatever comes their way. They also need to be well mounted. I have seen many a good-riding Field Master made to look pretty poor because they were on horses that were simply not cut out to lead across country.

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henry higginson paintingAlexander Henry Higginson, MFHAn Old Sportsman’s Memories, the autobiography written by A. Henry Higginson and J. Stanley Reeve tells the story of a proper Bostonian, Harvard class of 1898, who turned his back on a life of commerce, finance, and philanthropy—the route traditionally followed by New England men such as he. Smitten by the sport of foxhunting to the exclusion of all else, and with the support of his indulgent father, A. Henry Higginson followed his dream: a life of foxhunting.

His father, Major Henry Lee Higginson, more than fulfilled the family’s responsibilities to his community by his own philanthropy. The elder Higginson had dreamt of being a musician in his younger years, but Puritan Boston expected other things from her sons, and so he became a businessman as was expected. In time, he founded the Boston Symphony Orchestra, however, and was its earliest administrator.

He organized the corporation that built Symphony Hall, the first auditorium designed in accordance with scientifically derived acoustical principles. It is, as a result, widely regarded as one of the top concert halls in the world. Interestingly, with all the architectural flourishes of the period that architects McKim, Mead & White could bring to their creation in the year 1900, the structure displays only one composer’s name upon a large shield mounted on a frieze centered above the stage—Beethoven. There are other smaller shields upon the frieze framing the stage, but they are still blank! Boston is a careful and thoughtful old city.

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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.

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Photos by WLS Photography

tlj and commendationCasanova Master Joyce Fendley and huntsman Tommy Lee Jones were honored by the Virginia House of Delegates in Richmond. On February 1, 2019, Representatives of The Virginia State Legislature approved a Resolution commending the Casanova Hunt in Fauquier County on its 110th anniversary. Casanova’s history and contributions to the land and the community were noted.

A second Resolution recognized Casanova’s professional huntsman of forty-nine years, Tommy Lee Jones, for his contributions to hunting and showing in his Fauquier County community as well. Tommy Lee is the show manager for both the Upperville Colt and Horse Show and the Warrenton Horse Show.

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eric myer.karen kandraEric Myer wears the colors of the Genesee Valley Hunt (NY) early in the season.  /   Karen Kandra Wenzel photo

Eric Myer, DVM, is currently in his sixty-sixth season of foxhunting. And not just with one hunt. No, no. If that were the case, the hunting season would be far too short to suit him.

At eighty-two, Eric begins his season in mid-July up north near Rochester, New York with the Genesee Valley Hunt. His wife Martha has roots in Geneseo, and the couple has a summer farm there. Then, in mid-October, when the Piedmont Fox Hounds are well into their cubhunting season down south in Virginia, Eric and Martha return to their Boyce farm in the Shenandoah Valley.

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The sheer beauty of a level pack of foxhounds is indisputable. There is a uniformity of appearance and traits, and such a pack tends to run well together. But isn't there another option?

Why not a pack consisting of foxhounds of various types, welcoming the unique attributes of each hound type? Breeders know that no single type offers all the best attributes we want in a pack; hence the English-American Crossbred. But within those two categories there are still more individual types with more concentrated attributes that could allow each type to contribute at the appropriate stage of any hunt just when needed.

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