Fox Hunting Life with Horse and Hound

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Warrenton Hunt


Warrenton, Virginia

Website: 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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dhlees1-bmpIn nearly a half century of foxhunting, I have never seen a more handsome, elegant, and classically turned-out man astride a horse in the hunting field than Harcourt Lees. Nor did I ever meet a kinder or more pleasant gentleman in the hunting field. For me, he epitomized the grace and courtliness of a bygone age. It was an honor to know him, and I shall never forget him. What follows is the obituary of this sportsman/businessman/civic leader as released. -Ed.

With the passing of Douglas Harcourt Lees Jr. on July 21, Warrenton and Fauquier County, Virginia lost not only a respected businessman and sportsman but also a living link to a simpler time of grace and civility. Mr. Lees, 91, suffered a stroke on July 9 and was hospitalized briefly before returning to “Blackrock,” the Lees’ family home on Springs Road.

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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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reception LRG 2598Lauren Giannini photo

The Museum of Hounds & Hunting NA opened its season with a reception for 200 members and guests Saturday evening, May 26, 2013 at Morven Park in Leesburg, Virginia. The Virginia Foxhound Show took place on the grounds the following day.

Visitors viewed new exhibits featuring art and artifacts of the Warrenton Hunt (VA), established in 1887 and celebrating its 125th anniversary. Warrenton’s three current Masters—Kim Nash, Celeste Vella and Rick Laimbeer—graciously sponsored the Member’s Reception.

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warrenton1.125th.lees125th anniversary joint meet for both the Warrenton and the Deep Run Hunts (VA). Front, l-r: Warrenton huntsman Matt van der Woude and Deep Run huntsman Richard Roberts / Douglas Lees photo

Celebration of any centennial is not just a major milestone, it is an achievement in survival. This season Warrenton Hunt marked 125 years of sporting tradition and, making this anniversary even more special, the future of this American pack of foxhounds looks rosy. Leadership and landowner relations are two key elements, according to Rick Laimbeer, who returned to the Mastership after a brief hiatus. He had only good things to say about Warrenton’s newly minted Joint-Masters Celeste Vella and Kim Nash, along with discussing how the board has been infused with fresh energy and vigor.

The Masters
“Celeste Vella and Kim Nash are both extremely bright and well-organized,” said Laimbeer. “Celeste is an attorney. She’s a very clear thinker, personable and well-liked, and a good rider. She has a daughter who is also an excellent young rider. They are vital to the whole junior connection. Celeste is also very talented in the business-sense and has an extremely artistic flair; she has great taste and does all the decorating for all of our functions.

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