The Old Dominion Hounds were formed in 1924 as a private pack by Sterling Larrabee. During the first season, Mr. and Mrs. Larrabee hunted every day the weather allowed—either alone or with a few farmers and friends—up until Christmas. In January of 1924, the couple went abroad and hunted in England.
For the first few years, Mr. Larrabee had to contend with a scarcity of foxes and relatively few unsatisfactory hounds, but he persevered. Matters improved until 1930, then the Depression hit. To keep the pack going, Larrabee changed the name of the pack from Mr. Larrabee’s Hounds to The Old Dominion Hounds and began to accept subscriptions. His many difficulties notwithstanding, Mr. Larrabee sacrificed much to keep the Old Dominion Hounds going.
The Radnor Hunt (PA) is pleased to announce the appointment of Richard Normington as professional huntsman. Richard brings an impressive level of expertise and horsemanship that bodes well for Radnor’s ability to show good sport for seasons to come.
Before coming to the U.S., Richard was first whipper-in at the Grafton Hunt (Northamptonshire), the Worcestershire, the Crawley and Horsham (Sussex), and the Cheshire Hunt. He is third generation hunt staff, and a crack horseman, with experience in point-to-points and other cross-country competitions.
John Dean has returned to Pennsylvania to become huntsman for the Radnor Hunt. Although he spent his last seven years hunting coyotes in Missouri, Dean is well-known to veteran foxhunters in Pennsylvania.
Dean was huntsman for the old West Chester Hunt, an un-recognized pack in that state, and served as professional huntsman for the Wicomico Hunt in Maryland from the late 1990s. His wife Pam has connections to Radnor through her father, Bob Wilson, who hunted the Radnor hounds from 1972 to 1990.
Radnor celebrated the start of its 131st consecutive season on Opening Day, Saturday, November 2, 2013. After a stirrup cup accompanied by the music of bagpipers, the new huntsman took his pack of 15-1/2 couple of American foxhounds and led a field of fifty-six riders and a horde of car-followers to the first covert.
“Foxes were plentiful,” writes Collin McNeil, MFH, “and John Dean’s hounds accounted themselves well with one big, red Charlie speeding past the second field within just a yard or so.”
The customary hunt breakfast was held later at the clubhouse, where the new huntsman was toasted and the day’s stories shared.
Posted November 5, 2013
The gray uncertain sky and falling barometer suggested that winter was not yet finished with us. Nevertheless, I had rearranged my previously planned trip to Aiken after Joe Cassidy called. Joe hunted Mr. Stewart’s Cheshire Foxhounds (PA) for eighteen years and is currently huntsman for the Radnor Hunt (PA). This was an opportunity for me to hunt in his back pocket.
Joe had taught me to hunt hounds while I was MFH at Loudoun Hunt (VA), and he hunted with me when I carried the horn for a couple of years, making the drive with his wife Leslie and their very large dog Luca each weekend.
The meet was at Big Bend, the long-time residence of Frolic Weymouth, well-known for his immense contributions to open space conservancy. It was a Saturday meet, March 16, 2013, and as we sat waiting for the last of the field to mount and the clock to strike 11:00, Joe turned in his saddle, handed me his horn, and quietly told me that I was hunting the pack that day. I confess to a moment of stage fright, made some knuckle-head comment about strike hounds to which he replied, “Really,” and then we headed off to the first covert—a thick patch of brambles, ground cover, and trees about the size of a football field.
Mr. Stewart’s Cheshire Foxhounds (PA), founded in 1912, are celebrating their Centennial this season. W. Plunkett Stewart, a Philadelphia banker, set out to find the perfect hunting country and settled on the rolling hills, rich pastureland and extensive woods around Unionville. As what in modern terms could be classed as a committed environmentalist, he purchased thousands of acres of land and, before reselling, amended deeds to restrict development and nurture conservancy, clean water, and natural habitat. As a result of his efforts and the culture of conservation he passed on, the Cheshire hunting country today boasts thirty square miles and twenty-six thousand acres free from ribbon residential and commercial development that has allowed foxhunting and National Hunt racing to thrive.
The tenth annual Junior North American Field Hunter Championship competition is in the offing with this year’s finals scheduled for Sunday, November 4, 2012 at the Radnor Hunt in Chester County, Pennsylvania. What started in Virginia has now spread to neighboring mid-Atlantic states and the number of participating hunts continues to grow.
More than a competition, the main purposes are to expose foxhunters eighteen years of age and younger to a variety of hunting countries, to instill in their young minds the importance of open space preservation if our sport is to continue beyond their lifetimes, and to stress suitability of mount to rider. The concept was hatched ten years ago by Douglas Wise-Stuart, MFH and Iona Pillion, both renowned for their junior foxhunting programs.