“New” is hardly the word to use when writing about the sport of foxhunting in general, and even harder to use with a club as dedicated to tradition as central Virginia’s Farmington Hunt Club. Change is always a challenge! But our new huntsman Matthew Cook has been changing things all around since he arrived in Free Union three years ago—raising a new level of hunting sport with a growing list of firsts.
Cook entered Farmington hounds in the Virginia Hound Show in May, 2014 for the first time; he took a carefully picked few hounds to meet prospective foxhunting juniors at the local 4H club last spring, and he accompanied his daughter Pippa along with a group of Farmington juniors to compete for the first time ever at the finals of the Junior North American Field hunting championship in Lexington, Kentucky just last October. Most recently, he prepared Farmington hounds to compete in a foxhound performance trial at the Belle Meade Hunt in Thomson, Georgia in January 2017.
As we approach the 2016/2017 season, Foxhunting Life reports on recent huntsmen moves around the hunting countries.
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.
Brian Kiely knows he will have big boots to fill when Larry Pitts, huntsman for the Potomac Hunt (MD), retires after thirty-five seasons there. Brian spent a weekend recently with the Potomac Masters, had a chance to hunt with Larry, and accepted the position of huntsman starting next season.
“The way Larry conducted himself, the way the hounds related to him, was poetry,” said Brian. “It was a fabulous experience just to watch him.”
“I remember seeing Larry some years ago at the Virginia Foxhound Show,” Brian continued. “Hounds from hunts all over were arriving at the kennels...nervous...running off...and there was Larry, calmly walking his pack through all the confusion, without a care.”
In a fast game of musical chairs, huntsmen around the country are moving at a rapid pace. Andy Bozdan, Ryan Johnsey, Daron Beeney, Matthew Cook, Gerald Keal, and Ross Salter are all in the game.
Two years ago London-born Andy Bozdan arrived here from Australia to hunt hounds for the Tennessee Valley Hunt (TN). Bozdan is now moving to the Loudoun West Hunt (VA) to take over their pack of Old English and Crossbred hounds for the 2013/2014 season.
“I have loved every minute of hunting the Tennessee Valley Penn-Marydels,” Bozdan said, “and moving to Tennessee from the UK allowed me the opportunity to meet Erin, whom I married in May last year.
“Hounds have really come together this season, making a real pack. All the new entry have entered well and hunted well all season with no exceptions. The pack is in good shape both physically and mentally, very happy with life, and I know they will miss their dad as I will miss them very much too. We are sad to be leaving Tennessee, but realize what a wonderful opportunity awaits us in Virginia this coming May.”
Bozdan’s opening at Tennessee Valley will be filled by Ryan Johnsey, current huntsman for the Loudoun Hunt (VA)—not to be confused with Bozdan’s Loudoun West! The Loudoun Hunt is currently seeking a huntsman.
Bill McDevitt, honorary whipper-in and benefactor of the Los Altos
Hounds (CA) since 1963, passed away at his waterfront Sausalito home over
He will be remembered by his many hunt buddies and the numerous
Masters he served, including Tom Harris, W.W. Mein, Richard Collins,
Eugene Rettig, Mrs. Jay Foss, and Albert Schreck. He served as Vice
President from 1981 until 1985 and maintained his membership until 2000.
He and his great friend Niels Schultz, Los Altos member for many years, were
great benefactors of the hunt in the early years, often meeting with
landowners and hosting hunt breakfasts, not only in Marin County but
also in San Benito County, and providing needed funds, labor, and
vehicles for the hunt, his friends recall.
Bill and his son "Willie" often rode as a pair in the Los Altos Hunt Pebble Beach
Race Meet. Bill also rode jumpers and played polo. He was the
honored guest at the 1993 Hunt Ball held at the Monterey Bay Aquarium.
He was owner and founder of McDevitt and Sons construction company in
Marin County and is survived by an extended family. Funeral
arrangements were private, but a party for his friends is planned in
mid-September, to be announced later.
Posted September 1, 2011