The Millbrook Hunt (NY) held its 113th Opening Meet at Wethersfield, the former home of Mr. Chauncey Stillman, on Saturday, October 3, 2020. Mr. Stillman first hunted with Millbrook in 1937 as a guest. Soon after, he assembled the land and began construction of this elegant property. He continued to hunt with the Millbrook as a member.
John Wittenborn and his fourteen-year-old Clydesdale-Thoroughbred cross, Soccer, returned home to Long Island and the Smithtown Hunt with the Championship Trophy and ribbon from the Theodora Randolph 2018 Field Hunter Championship in Virginia. Three tries was the charm for Wittenborn and Soccer. Last year the pair made a good showing, placing third.
It was the first team from a northern hunt to have won the coveted prize in thirty-five years of competitions. And it was fitting; Mrs. Randolph was a northerner, though from Boston’s North Shore.
Stuart 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.
Harry deLeyer, born in the Netherlands in 1928, died last summer at the age of ninety-three.
After the Nazis rolled over the Low Countries and much of the European Continent in the spring of 1940, Harry's family farm became a way-station for the Dutch resistance during World War II. Fallen Allied airmen attempting to return to their bases in England and Jews attempting to escape capture by the Nazis were sheltered in a cellar secretly dug out next to the barn and covered by a manure pile. After Allied bombing raids, twelve-year-old Harry would ride out at night, helping to search for surviving Allied airmen. One pilot died of his injuries at the deLeyer farm. Harry' father buried him and mailed the dog tags to his family in North Carolina. Five years after the war ended, the pilot's parents sponsored the deLeyer Family to emigrate to North Carolina. A few years later, the deLeyer family moved to Long Island, and Harry became a riding instructor at an all-girls school. And he needed one more school horse.
Harry de Leyer’s first look at Snowman was between the slats of the truck bound for the killers. Harry had had trouble with his old station wagon, and he arrived late to the horse auction in the Pennsylvania Amish farming country. It was over, and there was only one trailer left in the parking lot. It was always the last trailer to load.
Midst the fearful and fidgeting horses crowded together on the bare floor for their last journey, one plain-looking gray stood apart for his calmness and self possession. Harry had driven to the auction in the hope of finding an inexpensive school horse for his riding students at the Knox School on Long Island, so he asked the trucker if he could see the gray. The gelding was missing a shoe, had bloody knees, and rubs on his chest from a heavy harness, but he was well-made and had a kind eye. The trucker had paid the “killer’s price” of sixty dollars. Harry was indecisive, but something in the horse’s composed demeanor spoke to him. Harry paid the man eighty dollars—the most he had planned to bid for any horse—and took him home.