Fox Hunting Life with Horse and Hound

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Piedmont Fox Hounds

piedmont

Loudoun County, Virginia

Website:


willie poole.jim atkins.leesDouglas Lees photo

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

nafhc13.teresa.callar2013 North American Field Hunter Champion Greyland Woods, owned by Karen Mantz and ridden by daughter Teresa Croce, jumps to victory over Judge Jean Derrick's scarlet coat (Belle Meade colors). / Liz Callar photo

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.

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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

thomas.george.charles sainsbury-plaiceGeorge Thomas, MFH of the Why Worry Hounds (SC) / Charles Sainsbury-Plaice photoWhen 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.

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eddie arcaroHall of Fame jockey Eddie ArcaroEddie Arcaro (1916–1997) is regarded by many as the greatest jockey in the history of American Thoroughbred racing. He tallied more wins in classic stakes races than any other jockey and is the only jock to have won the Triple Crown twice—Whirlaway (1941) and Citation (1948). He has the most wins of any jockey in the Belmont (six) and the Preakness (six) and is tied with Bill Hartack for Kentucky Derby wins (five). He won 4,779 of his 24,092 races and earned a record setting $30 million in purses.

On November 23, 1954 Arcaro experienced his first foxhunt when he appeared at a meet of the Piedmont Fox Hounds in Philomont, Virginia, as reported by Liz Smith in Sports Illustrated’s December 27 issue of that year:

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jim atkins2Douglas Lees photoJim Atkins, the well-known and greatly admired native Virginian huntsman, died on Tuesday, June 25, 2013, after suffering a heart attack. Although Jim had retired from hunting hounds, he was highly respected as a judge of foxhounds, most recently judging the Crossbred Ring at the Bryn Mawr Hound Show earlier this month.

Jim served as professional huntsman for the Old Dominion Hounds (1978–1987), the Piedmont Fox Hounds (1987–1989), and finally the Warrenton Hunt (1993–2005).

“Jim has to be recognized as one member of that exceptional group of natural huntsmen from Rappahannock and upper Fauquier Counties,” said Dr. Will Allison, ex-MFH of Warrenton. “As boys, they grew up hunting to put food on the table. They developed an innate feeling for game.”

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