Fox Hunting Life with Horse and Hound

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Piedmont Fox Hounds

piedmont

Loudoun County, Virginia

Website:


country pursuits.cormackCountry Pursuits: British, American and French Sporting Art from the Mellon Collections in the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, by Malcolm Cormack, Published by the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in association with the University of Virginia Press, 2007, 474 pages, illustrated, $62.00What a debt we all owe the late philanthropist Paul Mellon, whose love of horses and horse sports was expressed through the fabulous art collections that he so generously shared with us.

The Eclipse Award-winning breeder saddled legendary Thoroughbreds Sea Hero, Arts and Letters, and Mill Reef, just to name a few. His first British art purchase, in 1936, was a painting of a racehorse, "Pumpkin with a Stable-lad" by George Stubbs, said to be his favorite painting by one of his favorite artists. Pumpkin won sixteen out of his twenty-four races at Newmarket turf in the late 1770s and was described as an excellent runner.

“It was my very first purchase of a painting,” Mellon recalled later, “and could be said to be the impetus toward my later, some might say gluttonous, forays into the sporting art field.”

That Stubbs painting was donated to his alma mater, Yale, but the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts was another lucky recipient of Mellon’s “gluttonous” obsession with sporting art. Mellon’s donations are explored in Country Pursuits: British, American and French Sporting Art from the Mellon Collections in the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts by Malcom Cormack. Cormack was the Paul Mellon Curator at the VMFA in 1991 until his retirement in 2004. He also once served as the Curator of Paintings at the Yale Center of British Art established by Mellon.

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oatlands.ohiggins jones wallace sharp haightVirginia Foxhound Show, Oatlands, 1986: Huntsman Shelly O'Higgins receives trophy from Joan Jones (now President, Virginia Foxhound Club). Judges are (l-r) Captain R.E. Wallace, MFH, Exmoor Foxhounds (UK); Bun Sharp, MB, Nantucket-Treweryn Beagles; Sherman Haight, MFH, Mr. Haight's Litchfield County Hounds.

The venerable Virginia Foxhound Club—the team that brings you the Virginia Foxhound Show each year—is celebrating its sixtieth anniversary. It seems timely to look back, evaluate the importance of hound shows in the overall scheme of foxhunting, and convince those with a passion for the sport that their membership in the Virginia Foxhound Club, no matter where in North America they hunt the fox or the coyote, is an investment that will benefit all fox hunters and their hunts.

The Virginia Foxhound Show, the largest hound show in the world, brings foxhounds of all types and all strains to the flags for viewing, comparing, and judging. Whether a Master or huntsman is seeking certain bloodlines, or an outcross to introduce hybrid vigor to the gene pool within his kennels, he sees such hounds at Virginia. And he has the opportunity to socialize and chat, in a magnificent setting, about the merits and traits of the canine objects of his desire. With your support, the best matings may continue to be made in Heaven, but they’ll be arranged in Virginia!

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But no one came to the party.

oatlands.ohiggins jones wallace sharp haightVirginia Foxhound Show, Oatlands, 1986: Huntsman Shelly O'Higgins receives trophy from Joan Jones (now President, Virginia Foxhound Club). Judges are (l-r) Captain R.E. Wallace, MFH, Exmoor Foxhounds (UK); Bun Sharp, MB, Nantucket-Treweryn Beagles; Sherman Haight, MFH, Mr. Haight's Litchfield County Hounds.

There's an elephant in the room, sucking away so much attention from what we would normally be thinking about at this particular time of year. The Virginia Foxhound Club, for one.

The venerable Virginia Foxhound Club—the team that brings you the Virginia Foxhound Show each year...except this one—is celebrating its sixty-fifth anniversary. It seems timely to look back, evaluate the importance of hound shows in the overall scheme of foxhunting, and convince those with a passion for the sport that their membership in the Virginia Foxhound Club, no matter where in North America they hunt the fox or the coyote, is an investment that will benefit all fox hunters and their hunts.

The Virginia Foxhound Show, the largest hound show in the world, brings foxhounds of all types and all strains to the flags for viewing, comparing, and judging. Whether a Master or huntsman is seeking certain bloodlines, or an outcross to introduce hybrid vigor to the gene pool within his kennels, he sees such hounds at Virginia. And he will again have the opportunity to socialize and chat, in a magnificent setting, about the merits and traits of the canine objects of his desire. With your support, the best matings may continue to be made in Heaven, but they’ll be arranged in Virginia!

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jordan hicks.tryon.erik olsenHuntsman Jordan Hicks moves from the Tryon Hounds to the Piedmont Fox Hounds / Erik Olsen photoAs we approach the close of the 2014/2015 foxhunting season, here’s our report on thirteen hunts that have either hired or will require a new huntsman for next season. We have already featured personal close-ups of three of the migrating huntsmen—Guy Allman, Brian Kiely, and Graham Buston—and we plan to bring you more.

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.

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piedmont fox

This flying fox was captured in mid-flight by the lens of photographer Douglas Lees. Click for a Photo Gallery of the Piedmont Fox Hound’s meet at Blue Ridge Farm with first whipper-in Neil Amatt temporarily carrying the horn for injured huntsman Spencer Allen.

Posted February 9, 2015

In the last issue of FHL WEEK, Kate Samuels wrote about what eventing horses can learn by going foxhunting. Your editor was reminded of an article we published back in 2010 that turned that question on its head somewhat. We had asked Olympic three-day medalist James Wofford what foxhunters can learn from eventers. As we are now in that part of the hunting season when a traveling fox may take us for the longest and most arduous run of the season, we thought it would be worthwhile republishing Wofford’s advice.
                                                
Carawich-Blue_Ridge_1978_copyJames Wofford on Carawich, 1978 / Gamecock photo

For most of us field members, perhaps one of the greatest single factors influencing the joy we experience in a day’s hunting is our riding ability. The more competently we are able to cross the country on our horse, the closer we come to a totally fulfilling experience.

Since eventers know just a bit about crossing the country, we asked instructor, team coach, author, and Olympic medalist James Wofford to discuss some of the principles of his particular discipline and how they might be applied to the hunting field.

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