Fox Hunting Life with Horse and Hound

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Henry Hooker, MFH, Sportsman and Raconteur (1933-2017)

henry hookerFor all his important accomplishments, Henry Hooker could just crack you up with a story.

Henry Hooker, MFH since 1963 of the Hillsboro Hounds in Nashville, Tennessee, passed away at home on April 24, 2017, following a long illness. He was eighty-four.

Sadly, the world of field sport has lost a genial, enthusiastic, humorous, and visionary citizen. With his deliberate and clear Tennessee-inflected drawl, dry wit, and a sparkle in his eye, he was one of the most amusing raconteur’s ever to unfold a story. From the field or the podium—he was a highly-sought speaker—he could just crack you up.

In his memoir, Fox, Fin, and Feather: Tales from the Field (The Derrydale Press, 2002), he took his readers, on a raucous jaunt—foxhunting, fishing, and shooting—from the dark hills and hollows of the Tennessee night hunters to the exclusive quail-shooting plantations of South Georgia. He connected the “Brahmins of the chase” (English-inspired mounted foxhunters) to their American roots (southern night hunters and field trialers). The characters he ran across in the course of his sporting adventures furnished all the material he ever needed for his hilarious and touching anecdotes. For example...

Randy Rouse, MFH and Steeplechase Icon, Dies at 100

randy rouse.cinzano.leesRandy Rouse on his steeplechase champion Cinzano. The pair went to the starting line 11 times, and won every race. / Douglas Lees photo

Randolph D. “Randy” Rouse—Master of Foxhounds, retired champion race rider, Thoroughbred trainer, musician, and national steeplechase icon, died early Friday, April 7, 2017 at age one-hundred.

He was the oldest trainer in North American Thoroughbred history to saddle a winner, ever. He was ninety-nine last April when his Hishi Soar won the Daniel Van Clief Memorial at Foxfield Spring Races. This season, at age one hundred, just one week before his death, he sent Hishi Soar to the starting line again and won the Open Hurdle Race at the Orange County Point-to-Point in Virginia.

Marion Scullin: Doyenne of the Howard County–Iron Bridge Hounds

marion scullin and opal.KWW photoMarion Lee Crosson Scullin with one of her many favorite hounds, Howard County-Iron Bridge Opal.Marion Lee Crosson Scullin passed away peacefully at her Damascus, Maryland home after a brief struggle with brain cancer on March 5, 2017.

Born March 3, 1943 in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, to a family of huntsmen (father, grandfather, uncles, and cousins), Marion’s future could be said to have been predetermined. At the time she was born, Marion’s father, Albert “Pud” Crosson, was the huntsman for Rose Tree Foxhunting Club, moving to Huntingdon Valley Hounds, then Whitelands Hunt, and concluding his career with Pickering Hunt where, in 1976, he “died in the hunting field of a heart attack after his hounds completed a splendid run, marking their fox to ground.” Inducted into the Huntsman’s Room of the Museum of Hounds and Hunting, Marion’s father was known for breeding a hard-running pack of deep-throated Penn-Marydels.

Sherman P. Haight, Jr.: MFH, Statesman, Innovator

sherman inducted.crop.leesSherman Haight is inducted into the Huntsman's Room of the Museum of Hounds and Hunting in May, 2016. / Douglas Lees photo

With the passing of Sherman Haight, the foxhunting world has lost one of its longest serving gentleman-statesmen. He was ninety-three.

I use the term “gentleman” in its fullest sense, mourning both Sherman and an age that is passing with him and his few remaining contemporaries. I don’t believe I ever saw Sherman without a shirt and tie, even in his own home and even when visiting in the morning.

He was a true statesman for our sport, born of a dedicated foxhunting family. His father, his father-in-law, his brother, and he were all Masters. His mother, game for any adventure, followed hounds on both sides of the Atlantic. His record of accomplishments and innovations, many of which are taken for granted by today’s foxhunters, is lengthy.

Bill Backer (1926–2016): "The Real Thing"

backer at nslleessmallBill Backer, singing one of his foxhunting ditties while accompanying himself at the keyboard, at the National Sporting Library & Museum. / Douglas Lees photoWilliam M. Backer, a foxhunting man who put phrases and tunes on the lips of people in every corner of the globe, died in Warrenton, Virginia on Friday, May 13, 2016, after a short illness.

A member of the Advertising Hall of Fame, Bill Backer created iconic advertising campaigns such as the 1971 Coca Cola commercial featuring his jingle, "I'd like to Teach the World to Sing." Click for a televised clip of Bill being interviewed for and playing what is arguably the most famous commercial of all time.

Bill added “Miller Time" to the language of those who needed a substitute for “cocktail hour” and created the long-running television argument for Miller Lite: “Tastes Great; Less Filling,” one of the best-liked campaigns in the history of advertising. For Campbell Soup, he persuaded customers that "Soup is good food."

Bill was a longtime member of the Orange County Hunt (VA) and served on the Board of Stewards for fifty years, part of that time as President. At his Smitten Farm in The Plains, Virginia he bred and raised racehorses and was an active member of the Jockey Club and the Virginia Thoroughbred Association.

George “Frolic” Weymouth (1937–2016) Inspired Conservation-Minded Hunts

george frolic weymouthGeorge A. "Frolic" Weymouth, visionary conservationist, philanthropist, artist, and sportsman, died on April 24, 2016. In 1967, Weymouth and two friends purchased two parcels of land in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania totaling forty-seven acres that were threatened with industrial development. That act of preservation marked the start of the organization that was to become the Brandywine Conservancy. That conservancy, led by Weymouth, and the nearby Mr. Stewart’s Cheshire Foxhounds, led by Mrs. John B. Hannum, MFH, saved the Cheshire hunting country when the King Ranch was sold off. Their success served as a model and inspiration for other conservation-minded foxhunting clubs across North America to preserve their open space and educate their juniors.

Today, the Brandywine Conservancy is one of the leading land trusts in country, with 62,000 acres of land permanently protected in Pennsylvania and Delaware. Weymouth received the MFHA/Chronicle of the Horse Conservation Award in 2013, just one of numerous other awards received for his contributions to land preservation and the arts.

Hugh Motley, ex-MFH (1955–2016)

hugh motley2Hugh Motley, MFH with the Keswick foxhounds / Courtesy of the Motley Family

Hugh Douglas Camp Motley, ex-MFH of the Keswick Hunt (VA) and a highly-regarded horseman who started his own bloodstock agency and sold Thoroughbred horses at many of America's premier racing sales, died in Wellington, Florida on January 9, 2016 of complications from pneumonia. He was sixty.

Hugh foxhunted all his life and served as Master of Foxhounds for the Keswick Hunt (VA) from 2000 to 2005. He also played polo for many years as a member of the Charlottesville Polo Club.

Jake Carle, longtime Master and huntsman at Keswick, remembers Hugh from the time he was hunting ponies. “He was game as hell," Jake recalls. "He would go anywhere on his pony."

“We bonded instantly because we both stuttered as kids, so I understood. Later, he whipped-in to me. When it was time to name a new Joint-Master, he was the only person I trusted to maintain the standards. And he did.

"He hired [huntsman] Tony Gammell, and they had a bond. He had the most wonderful sense of humor, and we all will miss him terribly. He’s one of only a few people I know who was liked by everyone who met him.