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People

Huntsmen On the Move: 2016

barry magner mburg photo cropBarry Magner is the new huntsman at Mr. Stewart's Cheshire Foxhounds. /  Middleburg Photo

As we approach the 2016/2017 season, Foxhunting Life reports on recent huntsmen moves around the hunting countries.

Round I
Ivan Dowling has retired from hunting Mr. Stewart’s Cheshire Foxhounds (PA). After ten seasons (and before that as first whipper-in), this comes as a major change at Cheshire because the Irish-born Dowling was a key figure in implementing a bold, highly unusual, and successful hound breeding program there. With Dowling’s departure, Cheshire loses a professional whipper-in as well—Stephanie Boyer—who will wed Dowling in September.

Barry Magner is the new Cheshire huntsman. Irish-born Magner’s professional career includes whipping-in at the United Foxhounds (IRE) and a stint whipping-in in England. In the U.S., Magner whipped-in to the Howard County-Iron Bridge Hounds (MD) for a season and became huntsman there in 2007 upon Allen Forney's retirement. He came to Virginia as huntsman for the Middelburg Hunt where he remained for five years until leaving two years ago for Australia. Back in the U.S., Magner joined the Cheshire as professional whipper-in last season and was named huntsman upon Dowling’s retirement.

Newsmakers at Virginia

marty woodkleckcropC. Martin Wood, III, MFH / Nancy Kleck photoFoxhounds weren’t the only newsmakers at the Virginia Foxhound Show. A few people were worth noting as well!

Huntsmen’s Room
Three individuals were introduced for induction into the Huntsmen’s Room of the Museum of Hounds and Hunting in ceremonies on Saturday evening. Before dinner under the tent, Jake Carle, ex-MFH, spoke eloquently, reverently, and at the right times humorously about the three men who have hunted hounds with distinction for many years: C. Martin Wood, III, MFH, Live Oak Hounds (FL), G. Marvin Beeman, MFH, Arapaho Hunt (CO), and the late Jim Atkins who hunted hounds for the Piedmont Fox Hounds, Old Dominion Hounds, and the Warrenton Hunt, all in Virginia.

marvin beeman  jim atkins2
G. Marvin Beeman, MFH                    Huntsman Jim Atkins

The Purebred and The Mutt

With the kind permission of the author, here is the first chapter of The Great Hound Match of 1905 by Martha Wolfe. The Library of Virginia has selected Martha’s work as a potential Best Book of 2016 in the Non-Fiction category. Readers may cast their votes by clicking here.

higginson and cotesworth with houndsA. Henry Higginson, MFH, Middlesex Hunt, in derby and spats with huntsman Robert Cotesworth and his imported English foxhounds of the period.  /  Courtesy, National Sporting Library and Museum

     Storytellers claim that there is really only one story in the world: “A Stranger Comes to Town.” In this case, two strangers came to two towns in Virginia bringing with them their separate entourages—private train loads of friends and their horses, trunks of tack, boots, formal and informal clothing, food and wine, servants and of course their hound dogs. Neither Middleburg nor Upperville, Virginia, had seen the likes since J. E. B. Stuart established his headquarters at the Beverage House (now the Red Fox Inn) in Middleburg during the Gettysburg Campaign. Alexander Henry Higginson of South Lincoln and Harry Worcester Smith of Grafton, Massachusetts had determined that the Loudoun Valley in Virginia’s pastoral Piedmont was the best place to prove the relative worth of their chosen foxhounds.    

     It was November of 1905, the peak of foxhunting season across the Midlands of England and up and down the east coast of North America and these folks had come south from already snow-covered New England to the relatively mild winter in Virginia to hunt her plentiful red foxes. There was to be a contest, a Great Hound Match, between two packs of foxhounds, one English and one American. The English hounds carried, on their great stout forearms and deep chests, the monumental weight of centuries of foxhunting in England and were expected to make their hound dog ancestors proud of their New World conquest. The American hounds were expected to show those stodgy old Brits how it was done over here—with spunk and intuition, individuality, drive and nerve. Of course the dogs just wanted to chase a fox or two; it was their Masters who loaded the poor hounds and The Match, this moment in history, with the weighty question of worth.

Meeting Martha, Part IV: A Very Grand Finale

Intrigued by a photo of a British foxhunter with smoldering eyes and apparent ice in her veins, and sensing a story, Leslie Wylie reached out to its subject, the Lady Martha Sitwell, in the hope she could arrange for an interview. The next thing she knew she had accepted Martha’s surprise invitation to come hunting with her in England (see “Meeting Martha, Part I: How I Got Invited to Foxhunt with British Royalty”; “Part II: Darling, You’re Mad!”; and “Part III, I Got Ledburied (and Liked It).” What follows is Part IV, the final episode of Wylie’s epic weekend.

martha1Martha Sitwell and Winston at Saturday's VWH/Cotswold joint meet. / All photos by Leslie Wylie

Do you still have skin on the inside of your thighs?
Firstly, thanks for your well-wishes regarding my busted-up face and bum elbow. Good news: I had my arm checked out by the physio and nothing is broken — just a bone bruise, it turns out.