Fox Hunting Life with Horse and Hound

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MFHA Seeks Executive Director

The Masters of Foxhounds Association, soon to be headquartered in Middleburg, Virginia, seeks an executive director to succeed Lt. Col. Dennis Foster, who will retire next year. Foster is just the third person in the 109-year history of the MFHA to manage the venerable association.

The MFHA is the umbrella organization of mounted foxhunting in North America. It sets and maintains standards, requirements, and sporting guidelines for all registered hunts. It maintains registration and pedigree records for all hounds hunted by registered hunts and all that are shown in MFHA-sanctioned hound shows. The association also registers the hunting territories for all registered hunts and mediates territorial disputes.

The executive director works closely with a board of directors and reports to the president. He or she manages the association and its budget, finances, and fund raising. Other activities include planning events, seminars, and board meetings; marketing, promotion, and public relations for the sport of mounted hunting with hounds; and working with local and federal legislative activities. The executive director will engage with 154 member clubs, as well as other hunting-related organizations. Salary and benefits, commensurate with experience.

Candidates are invited to submit resume and salary expectations to Christy@MFHA.com immediately. Selection will be made on or before the fall of this year.

Posted March 25, 2016

Gold Medal Cyclist Switches Mounts; Rides at Cheltenham

victoria pendleton.cyclistThen: Pendleton, winning World ChampionshipScarcely one year after sitting on a horse for the first time, Olympic cycling gold medalist Victoria Pendleton raced over fences in the highly competitive Foxhunter Chase at the Cheltenham Festival (UK) on March 18, 2016. She rode Pacha Du Polder to a respectable fifth place finish, despite the misgivings of some of the experienced jockeys.

At Cheltenham, Pendleton, who has been riding in point-to-points, went up against some of the best amateur jockeys in Britain and Ireland with fewer than twenty rides over jumps under her belt.

The Foxhunter Chase for amateur riders follows the running of the Cheltenham Gold Cup over the same three-mile, two-and-a-half furlong distance. Pendleton received the go-ahead to ride after winning her first race at Wincanton Racecourse on Pacha Du Polder the week before. The win helped erase doubts about her readiness for Cheltenham that arose after she was unseated in a race just two weeks earlier. Prior to her winning start at Wincanton, thirty-five-year-old Pendleton had a total of eighteen starts in point-to-points and four falls.
                                            
Pendleton said achieving her goal of riding at the meeting had required her to take her athletic performance “to a new level.” The decision to let her ride was a gamble and one about which her team felt increasingly nervous as the Foxhunters Chase approached. Nevertheless, she produced a stunning ride according to reports. She stayed toward the back of the field early on, jumping safely before easing her way forward through the field.

"It's such a rush, such a thrill, riding a Thoroughbred over jumps," said Pendleton.

Posted March 19, 2016

victoria pendleton.jock.wincantonNow: Pendleton heading to the paddock at Wincanton Racecourse prior to her first win over fences.

Fire Erupts at Essex Fox Hounds Kennels; All Safely Evacuated

Forty-eight foxhounds in the kennels of the Essex Fox Hounds (NJ) were all safely evacuated by early responders from the local police departments as a fire that broke out in the feed room filled the building with smoke and flames soon seen shooting through the roof.

The fire was reported at 4:51 am on March 3, and was declared out at 5:40 am through the efforts of firefighters and volunteers from four area fire departments. The kennel building was semi-attached to a stable complex, but the fire was contained to just the kennel.

The fire was discovered by a hunt employee arriving at work. Peapack-Gladstone Police Officer Paul Morris, the first officer at the scene, heard the cries of frightened hounds as he pulled up in his patrol vehicle. He set about freeing hounds from the pens closest to the fire, and worked his way through the rest of the pens that were starting to fill with smoke. While freeing hounds, he was joined and assisted by two other officers from Bedminster and Far Hills.

Karen Murphy, MFH, praised the fast response. “We’re really lucky we had very good guys here so fast,” she said. “We’re very thankful.”

The cause of the fire has not yet been determined. It remains under investigation, but is not considered suspicious.

Click for P.C. Robinson’s complete article and James Brusso’s photo in the Bernardsville News.

Posted March 4, 2016

James Edward Covington, Jr., MFH (1935–2016)

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

British Hunts: Damned If They Do and Damned If They Don’t

British hunts are damned and accused by hunt protesters whether the evidence is valid or not.

A dead fox was found in a hedge in the vicinity where the Ledbury foxhounds were hunting. A member of the hunt staff, who had a chance to handle the carcass before it was hustled off by hunt protesters, claims it was cold and had a gunshot wound.

Hours later, photos of the dead fox were posted on various social media strongly accusing the hunt for unlawfully killing it. The local hunt saboteurs association reported on the Ledbury Reporter’s website that the fox’s body had been taken away for a “post mortem.”  

Hunt spokesman Donald Haden said the hunt conducts its activities within the law. "We are now into the lambing season,” said Haden, “and farmers quite understandably are not hesitant in shooting any foxes they see disturbing their sheep. We believe that in this particular case the fox had indeed been shot by a local farmer several hours or possibly days before and the dead carcass then thrown into the hedge."

Click for Gary Bills-Geddes’s story in the Ledbury Reporter.

Posted February 26, 2016