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Remembrance

Sally Tufts, ex-MFH (1924–2016)

sally tufts1Douglas Lees photo

Sally Spilman Tufts passed away peacefully on January 1st, 2016 at age ninety-one. A passionate horsewoman and lifelong foxhunter, she was Joint-MFH of the Warrenton Hunt (VA) for twenty-two years.

How many times have I recalled the first time we met? It was the moment when I, a Northerner, learned the definition of a Southern Lady—a woman who could say the hard thing and make it taste like honey.

About thirty-five years ago, before I had even moved to Virginia, a friend from Massachusetts and I went for a day’s hunting with Warrenton. For whatever reason, my friend’s horse decided to stop at virtually every fence. We were proving to be the cappers from hell. I was embarrassed, but the word, embarrassment, had never been a part of my friend’s lexicon. He just kept trying. At one fence, after several fruitless attempts, a hospitable Warrenton rider offered to get on the horse and jump him over so we could catch up to the field. Even he was unsuccessful, so he and another gracious rider took us through a gate—the nadir of the day’s experiences. Thankfully, the endless day finally ended, and, back at the trailers, Master Sally Tufts came up to us.

Tommy Jackson, ex-MFH and Huntsman (1945–2015)

tommy jacksonThomas H. Jackson, huntsman for twenty-five years at the Mission Valley Hunt (KS) and huntsman and Joint-Master of the Coal Valley Hounds (KS), passed away on Wednesday, October 21, 2015 at age seventy. Tommy enjoyed a stellar reputation in the hunting world. I can honestly say that I never saw any huntsman more passionate about seeing the job done right.

Born in Bellevue, Pennsylvania on June 19, 1945, to Joseph Henry and Mary Agnes (McAuliffe) Jackson, he went to work at a very young age due to family financial struggles. He loved the outdoors and farm life. One of his first jobs was at a dairy farm in the Sewickley area.

Tommy was drafted into the Army on October 20, 1965 and received an Honorable Discharge two years later. He served one tour in Vietnam with notable honors: National Defense Service Medal, Vietnam Service Medal with two Bronze Stars, Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal, and Marksman Rifle Award.

After returning from Vietnam, Tommy went to work as a stable groom at the Allegheny Country Club. He grew fond of horses and horseback riding, and this job launched him on his life-long career. Through the club's affiliation with the Sewickley Hunt, he worked his way up to the position of Professional Huntsman. Foxhunting was not just a job or a hobby for Tommy; it was his passion.

Joan Batterton (1917–2015)

joan batterton.beacon rock.1986Field Master Joan Batterton, Opening Meet, 1986, on her homebred North American Field Champion Beacon RockJoan Batterton, one of the finest Field Masters I have ever followed across a hunting country, died on Monday, August 31, 2015 at the age of ninety-eight. She was born in Auckland, New Zealand in 1917 and died at her home in Berryville, Virginia.

A diminutive but magnificent horsewoman, she led the field for the Blue Ridge Hunt (VA) for fifteen years, while in her sixties and seventies, on a succession of bold, grand jumping horses, some off the timber racecourses. She knew her country, knew how the foxes ran, and what I remember best is how she led her field at a steady hand-gallop, at an even pace, whether over fences or in the open, keeping us in touch with hounds in a lovely and seductive rhythm.

She never raised her voice, but spoke in her soft New Zealand accent, always with a touch of a smile, an inquiring arch of her eyebrows, maintaining an eye contact as expressive as her words. She didn’t suffer fools, however, and could flay them with a quiet single-sentence opinion.

Karen Stives Succumbs After Long Illness

karen stivesKaren Stives and Ben Arthur, 1984 Olympics

Olympic medal-winner Karen Stives died peacefully at her home in Dover, Massachusetts on August 14, 2015 after a five-year battle with cancer. She was sixty-four. Karen was a member of the Norfolk Hunt Club but her great passion was competition, and there she made history.

Karen showed hunters and jumpers successfully through the 1970s and then became smitten with eventing and dressage. She was the first woman to win an Individual Medal in an Olympic Three-Day Event, winning the individual Silver Medal in the 1984 summer Olympics in Los Angeles on her gray Irish-bred Ben Arthur. In doing so, she anchored the U.S. team in capturing the Team Gold Medal in the Three-Day Event that year. In 1982 she had represented the U.S. in the World Championship Three-Day Event at Luhmuhlen aboard her Thoroughbred horse, The Saint. She was the USEA Rider of the Year in 1981, 1987, and 1988.

In her induction into the USEA Hall of Fame, Karen is described as a “New England rider who rose to the top of international competition through sheer diligence, hard work, and plenty of natural ability, and is called a ‘small package with a thousand-pound brain,’ by longtime friend and colleague, Jim Wolf.  At one time she contemplated trying out for both the U.S. eventing and dressage teams in the same year—an idea she discarded after riding in two separate selection trials in the same weekend!”

Harry Wight, ex-MFH (1932--2015)

harry wightHarry Wight (to the right) and Randy Rouse battle for the lead at Seven-Corners circa 1970s. / Douglas Lees photo

Charles Henry Conley Wight, “Harry,” passed away on May 11, 2015 at INOVA Loudoun Hospital in Virginia. Harry hunted hounds at the Loudoun Hunt starting in 1985 and was appointed MFH in 1990. He retired from hunting hounds in 2001.

His steeplechase racing career spanned over forty years. He won Gentleman Rider titles several seasons, earning his last title at the age of sixty while besting many twenty-year-olds at the game. In 1967, with a committee of the late Dr. Joseph Rogers, S.D. Phillips, and others, he participated in the creation of the first Loudoun Hunt Point-to-Point races on the grounds of Oatlands. He managed these races until 2012.

Lady Anne Hemphill (1929--2015)

lady anne hemphill2Lady Anne Hemphill (nee Ruttledge) passed away this week at Craughwell Nursing Home in County Galway. An elegant and friendly lady, with a pleasant greeting for everyone, she will be remembered as one of the most accomplished Field Masters for the Galway Blazers, a role she filled with style for fifteen seasons.

I remember hunting in Oranmore when Michael Dempsey was huntsman, and as he drew the last covert at the Rifle Range in near darkness, hounds found immediately and we were away. Lady Anne leading the field came down in a narrow lane when her horse slipped. Deciding to stop and help we got a glimpse of her hand barely visible over the wall waving us on as she was trying to extricate herself from under her horse, saying,” Go, on, go on, don’t mind me, enjoy yourselves!”

Dedicated to Janet Hitchen

och hounds.hitchen.525Orange County foxounds at the old kennels / Janet Hitchen photo

Each year I look forward to the task of choosing the cover photo for our Foxhunting Life calendar. This year that task was taken in a more serious vein than usual. Having lost Janet Hitchen, one of the country’s foremost sporting photographers and a good friend, I arranged with her assistant Joanne Maisano to reproduce one of Janet’s iconic foxhunting photographs for our cover—one that represents her particular talent in composing a visually dramatic image, replete with contrasting textures, and which tells a story about our sport.

The four Orange County foxhounds in their old kennels—so clearly American—appear in a variety of postures, moods, and expressions from regal to relaxed. Their silky coats contrast with the rough floor boards, the distressed door, and the white-washed walls, worn and soiled from years of toenails and mud. And, as expected in Janet’s photographs, the composition, balance, focus, and color are flawless.

With this photo gracing our cover, we dedicate our Foxhunting Life 2016 Calendar to Janet Hitchen. And as with all our covers, the image appears both on the cover and inside the calendar, enlarged to fill the entire page to the edges. Also, as before, photos of the hound show grand champions that you’ve been reading about in FHL throughout the hound show season are still to be found inside the back cover.

We’ve been publishing our appointments calendar since 1998, and our annual collection of foxhunting images continues to represent the finest examples of the sporting photographer’s art.

Foxhunting Life 2016 Calendars will be ready to ship on September 1. They’ll help you keep track of your busy schedule while they brighten up your tack room and kitchen. And they make great gifts for your party hosts and for landowners in your hunting country.

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