Nancy Dillon is a living, legendary treasure of the Piedmont Fox Hounds in Virginia. She is the longest subscribing member of the hunt, having started hunting at age eight in 1943. For nearly a half century she has taught and led more children into the hunting field than anyone can count. Her truck and trailer pulling into the meet have been likened to the car at the circus where the clowns just keep coming out.
On Friday, November 8, 2013, the hunt threw a party at Buchanan Hall in Upperville to screen a specially-produced documentary—Lessons in the Piedmont—in tribute to Nancy. Throughout this beautifully-produced and heart-warming film, children (some grown, others still growing), Masters, hunt members, and citizens of the community expressed their love for this woman and their heart-felt appreciation for what she has done to instill a love of the sport, respect for the land, and personal values to generations of children.
Neil Amatt, whipper-in to the Piedmont Fox Hounds (VA), won the 2013 North American Horn Blowing Championship on Monday, October 14. This final horn blowing competition of the season is held annually during Hunt Night activities at the Pennsylvania National Horse Show in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Hunt staff members across North America qualify to compete for the championship by winning a horn blowing contest at any one of the MFHA-sanctioned hound shows held the previous spring.
Previous winners have been Andrew Barclay, Sam Clifton, Emma Downing, Steve Farrin, Tommy Jackson, Brian Kiely, Ian Milne, Charles Montgomery, Adrian Smith, and John Tabachka.
A perpetual trophy engraved with the name of each year’s winner remains on permanent display at the Museum of Hounds and Hunting at Morven Park in Leesburg, Virginia.
Posted October 17, 2013
In 1989, ghosts of the Great Hound Match of 1905 were awakened from their long slumber in the Piedmont Fox Hounds country of Virginia when Ben Hardaway, MFH of the Midland Fox Hounds (GA), brought his pack of Crossbreds (English crosses on American July bloodlines) to duel on alternating hunting days with Piedmont’s pack of Crossbreds (English crosses on old Virginia bloodlines).
Piedmont huntsman Jim Atkins (right), who passed away just this year, hunted the home pack. The colorful author/journalist Willy Poole (left) came from England to cover the match for the Daily Telegraph, whose weekend headline proclaimed, “Let Slip the Dixie Dawgs of War!”
Poole was awarded the O.B.E. by his queen for services to journalism and rural affairs in 2001. Three years later the Hunting Act was passed banning foxhunting in England, and Poole, who always marched to his own drummer, protested in his own way by moving to Normandy.
Posted October 13, 2013
Blistering hot weather visited Virginia for the past four weeks. While not unusual this time of year, the length of the hot spell, with temperatures hovering in the high eighties and even reaching into the low nineties, has proved miserable to man and beast alike, but it failed to deter foxhunters who entered this year's North American Field Hunter Championships.
On Monday, September 30, the Championships began at Keswick. Hounds met at Glenwood, a fixture in the neighborhood of James Madison's Montpelier, outside the town of Orange. Contestants from as far away as Florida and Georgia traveled to compete in the event, as well as to enjoy early autumn hunting in Virginia. They were not disappointed. Keswick huntsman Tony Gammell provided a fine day of sport in the lovely rolling countryside as hounds ran across the nearby road, back again, and beyond the fixture into a scenic expanse of woods and cornfields. Afterward, everyone enjoyed a tailgate as five contestants were selected for the finals.
On Tuesday, October 1, hounds met at Owl Run Farm in Warrenton, home of Casanova Hunt Joint-Master Mrs. Joyce Fendley. Previously the home of Donna and Jack Eicher, huntsman at Rombout and later Farmington Hunt, the grounds include a lake and a cluster of graceful weeping willows out front. The residence and barns all exude the charm of old Virginia Hunt Country—weathered stone, stout board and batten, low eaves and metal roofs. A special surprise awaited the field this morning when shortly after casting hounds, an eruption in a cornfield revealed that hounds had encountered a black bear! Fortunately, the pack obeyed their orders to ignore the bear as it beat a hasty retreat. The remainder of the morning proved quieter, and as the field hacked in, Mrs. Fendley positioned herself, as she always does at the end of a hunt, such that she could personally thank everyone in the field as they passed by on their way to their trailer. This small but thoughtful act is just one of many that make hunting in Virginia so special and unique. It was a hot, thirsty, and tired field that gathered under a tent to drink and devour a delicious crab dip while recalling the excitement of having gone on their first bear hunt! This morning, six finalists were announced.
The 2013 Field Hunter Championship of North America will be held in Virginia from Monday, September 30 to Sunday, October 6. Competitors will hunt four days, with fixtures at Keswick Hunt, Casanova Hunt, Snickersville Hounds, and Piedmont Fox Hounds. The Finals will be held on Sunday, October 6 at Glenwood Park.
The final day at Glenwood will start with the judging of the “Best Turned Out” horse and rider, after which a short drag hunt will start and end on the racecourse. At least ten finalists will be chosen to ride over a “handy hunter” course, where they may be required to drop a rail, open a gate, and hand gallop and halt. Spectators are encouraged to attend. This is the second and final day of the Virginia Fall Races at Glenwood Park, so there’s a lot going on!
The family of the late Mrs. Theodora Ayer Randolph will again honor her memory and her lifetime commitment to fox hunting by awarding a $2,500 cash prize to the home hunt of the winner.
The Museum of Hounds and Hunting in Leesburg will award a one-year membership to the winning rider and to the two highest-placed Juniors that qualify for the Finals.
General Admission price is $30.00 per carload of four people. To reach Glenwood Park from the Washington DC area, take I-66 West and exit Route 50 West (Exit 57B towards Winchester). Drive approximately 25 miles to Middleburg and turn right at stop light in Middleburg (Route 626, Foxcroft Road). Proceed 1 mile North to Glenwood Park on your right.
For additional information and/or photos call the name above or contact the Field Hunter Championship Chairman Ms. Pippy McCormick at 540-454-2854.
Posted September 6, 2013
When George and Jeanie Thomas organized their hunt twenty years ago near Aiken, South Carolina, they expressed their philosophy in naming it. Why Worry Hounds they called it, and now, after twenty years of managing hounds, horses, and country by themselves, they have made some organizational changes to re-establish that philosophy.
With George busier in his day job and Jeanie having conquered some pesky physical issues, the couple has taken steps to ease their burdens by bringing on board two well-known, immensely capable, and passionate foxhunters ready and wanting to shoulder a share of the responsibilities—Randy and Robin Waterman.
Randy, ex-MFH and former huntsman of the Piedmont Fox Hounds (VA), has been named huntsman of the Why Worry Hounds. Robin, who whipped-in to Randy at Piedmont, joins George and Jeanie as Joint-MFH at Why Worry and will whip-in to Randy.