Fox Hunting Life with Horse and Hound

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Piedmont Fox Hounds

piedmont

Loudoun County, Virginia

Website:


falling off

No fear, suspended
in slow time.
Afterward,

recite your name,
say you’re fine.
Believe it.

Climb back on to prove it.
Ride along, wondering
how you got to Goose Creek –

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cb19Twelve of the seventeen Cleveland Bay purebreds and crosses pose at the annual Cleveland Bay reunion before Farnley house in White Post, Virginia.  /  Karen Kandra photo

Cleveland Bay owners, breeders, and fanciers were privileged to travel back in time to recreate the heyday of this handsome, versatile, yet endangered breed of equine on November 16, 2019. The reunion combined with a meeting of the Blue Ridge Hunt is so appropriate at Farnley Farm in White Post, Virginia.

In the 1930s and 1940s the late Alexander Mackay-Smith bred both pure Cleveland Bay horses and partbreds at Farnley for use as field hunters. He remains the only North American breeder to have exported a stallion back to the UK from whence the breed originated. His stallion, Farnley Exchange, still appears in the pedigrees of most Cleveland Bays living in the world today.

Mackay-Smith’s daughter, Hetty Mackay-Smith Abeles, and her family welcomed the Blue Ridge Hunt subscribers, guests, and seventeen purebred and partbred Cleveland Bays to Farnley for the annual event. Mackay-Smith was a Master of Blue Ridge in the mid-twentieth century. Mrs Abeles and her family continue to breed their well-known Farnley Ponies there, based on bloodlines started and proven as early as the 1930s.

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aaea2019.linda volrath.mburg photoLinda Volrath from White Post, Virginjia, with one of her oils, a handsomely mounted huntsman, Jordan Hicks, and his Piedmont foxhounds  /  Middleburg Photo

The American Academy of Equine Art, after an absence of thirty years, has returned to its original home, Middleburg, Virginia, with a delightful exhibit of equine art. The works chosen for the AAEA 39th Annual Open Juried Exhibition will be available for viewing until October 26, 2019 from 10:00 am to 4:30 pm, Monday through Saturday, at the newly occupied headquarters of the Masters of Foxhounds Association, 301 East Washington Street (U.S. Route 50), Middleburg, Virginia 20117.

The MFHA headquarters is “a beautiful facility inside and out, fully restored and expanded,” writes AAEA President Booth Malone. “The Academy plans to give them a show they can be proud of.”

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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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