Fox Hunting Life with Horse and Hound

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As we approach the 2017/2018 season, Foxhunting Life makes its annual report on the recent moves of eight huntsmen across the North American hunting countries.

hughjulierobards.cropped.cancelliRetiring huntsman Hugh Robards, wife and first whipper-in Julie, and the foxhounds of the Middleburg Hunt / Chris Cancelli photo

Round I:
Hugh Robards’ decision to hang up his hunting horn after fifty-five seasons in hunt service got Round One underway. Fully half of those seasons, and certainly the most visible, Robards spent in Ireland’s challenging ditch-and-bank country as huntsman for the County Limerick Foxhounds. There, he provided world-class sport for Master Lord Daresbury (whom he succeeded as huntsman), the hard riding members, and a constant stream of hunting visitors from around the globe.

For the last three seasons, Robards has carried the horn for the Middleburg Hunt (VA). As difficult as his personal retirement decision must have been, the Middleburg Masters and members paid Robards such a stirring tribute at their Hunt Ball that he had to have felt the sincere respect and affection in which he was held, notwithstanding his short tenure there. The members made certain that the ball revolved about him with mounted photographs of his career, the showing of a specially produced video, and speeches—sincere and well-earned, to recognize an illustrious career.

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wws heythrop r achelWhy Worry Hounds' Heythrop Rachel 2011 is Grand Champion of the 2016 Carolinas Hound Show.

Why Worry’s Heythrop Rachel 2011 was judged Grand Champion at the fortieth annual Carolinas Hound Show held at the Springdale Racecourse in Camden, South Carolina on May 7, 2016. It’s one thing for a visiting MFH to pick up a nice draft to bring back to the home kennels; it’s another thing entirely to know what to do with it. Here’s where George and Jeannie Thomas, MFHs, Why Worry Hounds (SC), showed their breeding acumen.

While visiting friends in England and judging a puppy show at the Heythrop kennels, George mentioned that he needed a bi*ch* to introduce new bloodlines into his breeding program. We have just the hound for you, he was told. So he brought home a nicely-bred entered bi*ch, Heythrop Rachel 2011.

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Senior Master James E. Covington of the Deep Run Hunt (VA) died at home, surrounded by  family, on January 21, 2016. He was born February 23, 1935 in Richmond, Virginia, but spent most of the first four years of his life in Shanghai, China, where his father bought tobacco for Universal Leaf. After the Japanese invasion of China, the Covington family returned to Richmond.

Jim loved sailing, skiing, and golfing, but his main passion was foxhunting. He served as MFH from 1980 to 1985 and from 2001 to the time of his death. Among his many roles as Master, he worked hard to ensure that Deep Run would have open country for hunting.

Following a tip from Joint-MFH Polly Bance, he learned that Sunnyside Farm in Fluvanna County was up for sale. At the time the farm had not been lived in for several decades. The buildings were in disrepair, and the fields were overgrown. Nonetheless, he had a vision. He mowed and cleaned up fields, fenced pastures, and cleared miles of trails. With the help of his daughter, Janie, he restored barns and outbuildings. Sunnyside also became the center of his land conservation efforts in Fluvanna County. He put land he owned in easement and convinced and guided neighbors through the process. As a result, several thousand acres of land have been protected there. At Sunnyside he could be found on the back of a horse or behind the wheel of a tractor.

Jim was a graduate of the University of Virginia. While in law school there, he met his wife of fifty-five years, Jane Elizabeth Ellis. They married in 1961 and after his graduation, the couple moved to Richmond, where he joined the law firm of Williams, Mullen, Christian, Pollard. In 1969, he created The Covington Company, a residential and commercial real estate development company that is still in operation today. He is described as having introduced the concept of luxury-condominium living to the city of Richmond, and pioneering its development.

Click for James Covington’s complete obituary.

Posted March 3, 2016

carolinas15.david traxlerGrand Champion Hillsboro Graphic '14 with professional whipper-in Leilani Hrisko. Judges (l-r) are MFHs Tony Leahy and Dr. Jack Van Nagell / David Traxler photoHillsboro Graphic '14 was judged Grand Champion of Show at the thirty-ninth annual Carolinas Hound Show held at the Springdale Race Course in Camden, South Carolina on May 8 and 9, 2015.

Whelped to royal bloodlines—American on the sire’s side and English on the dam’s side—it should have been no surprise to see Graphic garner top honors. Her sire is Hillsboro Jethro '08, son of the magnificent Potomac Jefferson '05, Grand Champion Foxhound at Virginia in the year of the MFHA Centennial celebration, 2007.

On the dam’s side, Graphic goes back in tail female to North Cotswold Grapefruit '95, a Peterborough Champion and dam of several influential foxhounds in North America including Iroquois Grundy '98, Master Jerry Miller’s all-time favorite foxhound, and Mid-Devon Grocer '00, sire of Virginia and Bryn Mawr champion hounds from Blue Ridge.

Foxhounds from fourteen hunts and five states trod the flags at Carolinas: Aiken, Camden, DeLa Brooke, Green Creek, Hillsboro, Keswick, Lowcountry, Moore County, Red Mountain, Sedgefield, Tennessee Valley, Tryon, Whiskey Road, and Why Worry.

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mfc.americanChampion American Foxhound: Orange County Kermit with huntsman Reg Spreadborough / Karen Kandra Wenzel photoFor forty consecutive years, foxhunters from the Mid-Atlantic have gathered on the day following the Kentucky Derby to give their unentered hounds an opportunity to learn what this “hound show thing” is all about. As a prelude to the major shows—Virginia and Bryn Mawr—later in the spring, this show is a bit lower key, but still a serious undertaking. Restricted to unentered hounds except for classes for Produce of Dam and Get of Sire, the emphasis is on teaching young hounds and young handlers what they can expect in a few weeks.

The show is held on a rotating basis among the MFHA-sanctioned hunts in Maryland, and this year the Marlborough Hunt in Prince Georges County served as host. On the banks of the Patuxent River on their lovely grounds for both clubhouse and kennels, the Marlborough folks, under the leadership of Masters Katherine Cawood, Patty Sasscer, and Christine Claggett, provided two spacious rings—one for foxhounds where Thomas H. Jackson, MFH, Mr. Jackson’s Flat Creek Hounds and former huntsman of the Mission Valley Hunt Club (KS) would judge the 101 foxhounds entered, and one for foothounds where Forbes R. Reback, MB and Charlotte D. Buttrick, MB, both from the Farmington Beagles (VA), would judge bassets and beagles.

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