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Foxhunting Life with Horse and Hound

 

 

Rappahannock Hunt
Huntsmen on the Move: 2015
People
Written by Norman Fine   

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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Stu Grod Retires from the Field at Eighty-Four
People
Written by Norman Fine   

stu grod2.julie stuart segerJulie Stuart Seger photoStuart Grod—popular field member of the Fairfield County Hounds (CT)—has retired after forty-three consecutive seasons hunting in the first flight. A retirement party was held in Stu’s honor at the hunt’s clubhouse on November 22, 2014, where well-known food and travel author Michael Stern read a poem he composed for the occasion.

"Build a bridge with your hands on the mane;"
"Trot smooth as you head for the jump;"
"Go light when your hands hold the reins;"
"And don't crowd on the lead horse's rump:"

Just some of Stu's tips I've acquired
Since I started to ride with you folks.
I'll miss you up there, you strange country squire
With your bright eyes, your wisdom, and jokes.

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Thoughts on Field Hunter Competitions
Norm Fine's Blog

nafhc14.winnerA competent horse and rider, confidently and comfortably crossing the country: what we all aspire to! Laurie Ambrose and Stretch, winning the Theodora A. Randolph Field Hunter Championship in Virginia.  /  Douglas Lees photo

The recently held Theodora A. Randolph Field Hunter Championship in Virginia is a unique competition. It differs from the more usual one-day hunter trial in which foxhunters ride individually over a course of obstacles, often including lead-overs, trot fences, fast gallops, and hold-hards.

In the Theodora A. Randolph Championship format (see Susan Monticelli’s report in separate article), field hunters are observed by mounted judges for several days during a series of actual foxhunts behind different packs of foxhounds. The judges’ task during these hunts is to select those horse/rider combinations they wish to see in a final day of competition. The finals, held each year at Glenwood Park in Middleburg on the morning of the Virginia Fall Races, consist of a mock hunt following a Field Master over a course of obstacles, and then individual tests similar to those in a hunter trial for the final ten or so selected.

While some avid and capable foxhunters believe that foxhunting is not a competitive sport and decline to participate, and while I can appreciate and respect their view, I also see benefits from these competitions. From one aspect, it’s a great value. If you want a hunting holiday in Virginia, you get to hunt with four different packs for an entry fee of not much more than the cost of a single cap at some of these hunts. And parties all week to boot!

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New Huntsman, New MFH at Why Worry Hounds
People
Written by Norman Fine   

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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On the Road: One Master's Perspective
Hunt Reports
Written by Oliver L. Brown, MFH, Rappahannock Hunt   

hunt 2Foreground (l-r): Michael Brown, huntsman and Oliver Brown, MFH, Rappahannock Hunt with host Epp Wilson, MFH, Belle Meade Hunt /  Karen Raiford photo

This article—about foxhunters on the road and the joys of visiting—is being published in several installments: 1. A Huntsman’s Perspective, 2. One Master’s Perspective, 3. Another Master’s Perspective, and 4. A Member’s Perspective. Here is our second installment.

I first met the Ambassador of Foxhunting, Ben Hardaway, MFH, of the Midland Foxhounds (GA) in 1973. It was Ben’s first trip to Virginia, and I was in awe of this traveling foxhunting circus. His members were so excited as were his hounds to show their adaptation to a different territory. Many more times did he come to hunt with us, and I also had the pleasure of being invited to hunt with him in his country. But I envied being able to take your own hounds to strange territories. So after hunting in Midland several times and becoming enthused, my son Michael and I made our first trek south with hounds in 1999.

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