Fox Hunting Life with Horse and Hound

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matthew cook2.cathy summers“My first knowledge of foxes began with hating them,” said Matthew Cook with a chuckle. "Working as a gamekeeper they were a pest.” / Cathy Summers photo“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.

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Buffalo rideAs a part of Opening Meet Weekend 2016, Riders in formal attire participate in a tribute at the Buffalo Soldiers monument. Front, l-r: Infantry Major Jeroen van Rantwijk of the Royal Netherlands Army, who is attending the Command and General Staff College, and Honorary huntsman Dr. Steven Thomas.

The Fort Leavenworth Hunt (KS) put together an Opening Meet Weekend attracting foxhunters from ten states and featuring the hunt’s unique place in our nation’s history. One hundred mounted riders and fifty car-toppers participated in a three-day program that included a historic ride on the 5,600-acre post, Opening Meet, Military Hunt Ball, wreath laying ceremony at the Buffalo Soldiers monument, and guided tours. The events were led by both military and civilian personnel, as appropriate.

Attending guests included current Masters from Bijou Springs Hunt (CO), Bridlespur Hunt (MO), North Hills Hunt (NE) as well as members from other hunts hailing from Alabama, California, Colorado, Kansas, Kentucky, Missouri, Nebraska, Iowa, South Carolina, and Virginia.

Built in 1827, Fort Leavenworth is the oldest active United States Army post west of Washington, D.C. The fort is also the oldest permanent settlement in Kansas. Historically, Fort Leavenworth has been known as the Army’s intellectual center. During the country's westward expansion, Fort Leavenworth was a forward destination for thousands of soldiers, surveyors, immigrants, American Indians, preachers and settlers who passed through. The fort was the eastern terminus of the Santa Fe and Oregon Trails, and the weekend events were aimed at exposing visitors to much of the post's history.

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fort leavenworth vixenFort Leavenworth Vixen, Grand Champion of Show, handled by Stephanie Wilcox Carter, MFH and huntsman. Judge Vincent Tartaglia is standing (middle). /  Angela Fain photo

Last year was the boys’ year. This year the Crossbred female, Fort Leavenworth Vixen 2013, evened the score with her littermate Valor by winning the Grand Championship at the Central States Hound Show.

Vixen is a speckled, mostly white tricolor by Brazos Valley Baxter ‘08 out of Fort Leavenworth Piper ‘07. American and Crossbred bloodlines are predominantly from Fort Leavenworth Hunt (KS), Brazos Valley Hounds (TX), and the Piedmont Fox Hounds (VA). The most recent contribution of pure English blood to this lovely Crossbred was from the Arapahoe Hunt kennels (CO), three generations back.

Stephanie Wilcox Carter, MFH and huntsman of the Fort Leavenworth pack describes Vixen as conformationally correct, happy, and unflappable.

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centralstates15.valor.glen carterFort Leavenworth Valor '13 begins his day at Central States by capturing the English/Crossbred Championship. North Hills Kid Rock, last year's Grand Champion of Show, was Reserve. Huntsman Stephanie Wilcox Carter, MFH shows Valor. Judge Cameron Sadler is standing (right). / Glen Carter photo

Fort Leavenworth Valor ‘13 was crowned Grand Champion Foxhound at both the Southwest Hound Show on April 18, 2015 and the Central States Hound Show on May 2, 2015.

Valor is a fitting name for Fort Leavenworth hounds, tied as the hunt is to that venerable military post in Kansas. Three Fort Leavenworth foxhounds have proudly carried the name, Valor, in the last thirty years!

Southwest Hound Show
Exhibiting hunts at the Southwest Hound Show included Brazos Valley Hounds (TX), Fort Leavenworth Hunt, and Independence Foxhounds (TX). Judges George and Jeanie Thomas, MFHs of the Why Worry Hunt (SC) were impressed by both Valor and the hound show. In a “joint communique” George and Jeanie write, “We like Valor a lot, and he showed the way a champion should. We found him to be a very nice hound with super conformation and correctness. He is a fluid mover and has a lot of power from his lovely hind end.  Although he is not a big hound, he made up for it with his drive and verve. We are looking forward to seeing him in Virginia!”

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central states14.kid rock12.glencarterGrand Champion Kid Rock 2012 was shown by North Hills huntsman Tyce Mothershead with the help of wife and whipper-in Hillary and daughter Finley. / Glen Carter photo

North Hills Kid Rock 2012 was judged Grand Champion of the Central States Hound Show in Stilwell, Kansas on Saturday, May 3, 2014. The handsome white Crossbred dog hound (North Hills Ira 2011 ex Their Passion 2012) is the product of outstanding bloodlines from Fox River Valley (IL), Iroquois (KY), and Midland (GA).

Brazos Valley Mystic 2010—multi-time Grand Champion foxhound in past years—was Reserve Champion for the second time this year.

Huntsman David Raley from the Moore County Hounds judged entries from the Brazos Valley Hunt (TX), Bridlespur Hunt (MO), Fort Leavenworth Hunt (KS), Mission Valley Hunt (KS), and North Hills Hunt (NE). Foxhounds were judged in two divisions: American and English/Crossbred.

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