Fox Hunting Life with Horse and Hound

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Featuring the photographs of Douglas Lees

odhptp17.open hurdleEasy Exit and Jeff Murphy (left) are Open Hurdle winners over Del Bando and Liam McVicar. / Douglas Lees photo,

Six jump races—three hurdle and three timber—and two flat races completed an eight-race card at the Old Dominion Point-to-Point at Ben Venue Farm in Virginia on Saturday, April 8, 2017. Jeff Murphy swept both the Open Races—Hurdles and Timber.

In the Open Hurdles, Murphy rode Easy Exit to an easy win by a seven-length margin for trainer Doug Fout. This was Fout’s first of two wins for the day.

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As we approach the 2017/2018 season, Foxhunting Life makes its annual report on the recent moves of eight huntsmen across the North American hunting countries.

hughjulierobards.cropped.cancelliRetiring huntsman Hugh Robards, wife and first whipper-in Julie, and the foxhounds of the Middleburg Hunt / Chris Cancelli photo

Round I:
Hugh Robards’ decision to hang up his hunting horn after fifty-five seasons in hunt service got Round One underway. Fully half of those seasons, and certainly the most visible, Robards spent in Ireland’s challenging ditch-and-bank country as huntsman for the County Limerick Foxhounds. There, he provided world-class sport for Master Lord Daresbury (whom he succeeded as huntsman), the hard riding members, and a constant stream of hunting visitors from around the globe.

For the last three seasons, Robards has carried the horn for the Middleburg Hunt (VA). As difficult as his personal retirement decision must have been, the Middleburg Masters and members paid Robards such a stirring tribute at their Hunt Ball that he had to have felt the sincere respect and affection in which he was held, notwithstanding his short tenure there. The members made certain that the ball revolved about him with mounted photographs of his career, the showing of a specially produced video, and speeches—sincere and well-earned, to recognize an illustrious career.

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The late Melvin Poe remains a legendary American huntsman, and undoubtedly will for all time. From his earliest days, Melvin absorbed the ways of the forest and the habits of every wild creature.

From a new book, Foxhunters Speak (The Derrydale Press, 2017), here is one of fifty interviews conducted by an accomplished author highly experienced in the art of the interview. Mary Kalergis has traveled the country to learn how foxhunters acquired their passion. For books inscribed by the author, purchase directly.

GTPics 27Mary Kalergis photo

I was born in 1920, five miles down the road from where I live now in Hume, Virginia. There were ten of us in the family—five girls and five boys. My dad worked for a dollar a day. He had hounds when I was a little boy, and as soon as I got big enough to hunt, that was all I wanted to do. I loved to hunt skunks and possum at night when I was a schoolboy. We had no coons in those days. No beavers either. Those skins would have been worth a lot more than skunk or possum.

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keeneland auction.drawn blank.michael lyneMichael Lyne (British 1912-1989), DRAWN BLANK, Watercolor, gouache, 17 x 23-3/4, $7,000 to $10,000

For American art lovers, the upcoming Sporting Art Auction on Monday, November 21, 2016, 4:00 pm, at the Keeneland Sales Pavilion should be of special interest. Several lots by contemporary American and European artists feature North American hunts. Two in particular of the Old Dominion Hounds (VA) were painted by the late Peter Biegel (British) in the latter part of the twentieth century. Click to view the catalog.

This annual auction combines the expertise of two renowned institutions: Keeneland, the world’s largest Thoroughbred auction house and Gregg Ladd's premier Gross Gate Gallery, both located in Lexington, Kentucky. The 2016 collection features 175 high-quality lots of paintings and sculpture from renowned masters as well as talented new artists. In the foxhunting genre alone, there are works by Peter Biegel, Julie Chapman, Richard DuPont, John Emms, Dede Gold, Harry Hall, Juli Kirk, J.B. Lalanne, Michael Lyne, LeRoy Nieman, Andre Pater, Belinda Sillars, Susie Whitcombe, and George Wright.

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jnafhc claire goff.betsy parkerClaire Goff riding Miss Congeniality was judged 1st Field Champion, 13 and over, of the 2016 Junior North American Field Hunter Championships at the finals hosted by the Iroquois Hunt. With Claire are (l-r) Dr. Jack van Nagell, MFH, host, and President of the MFHA; Marion Chungo, organizer; Douglas Wise-Stuart, MFH, Old Dominion Hounds, and co-founder of the event; Cathy Murphy, daughter of the late Pat Murphy, longtime Iroquois huntsman ; and Cindy Goff, Claire's grandmother and former member of the Iroquois field. And the cute dog is Bert! /  Betsy Burke Parker photo 

Junior foxhunters and their parents traveled from thirteen states to Lexington, Kentucky, where the Iroquois Hunt hosted the finals of the 2016 Junior North American Field Hunter Championships. Thirty-three hunts participated over the course of the informal season by holding qualifying meets from which the finalists were chosen by mounted judges. In thirteen years, the program has grown steadily in participation and geographically from its modest start involving a few hunts in Virginia.

The program is succeeding because it’s purpose rises above just competition. Founders Douglas Wise, MFH, Old Dominion Hounds (VA) and Iona Pillion from the Blue Ridge Hunt (VA) had a larger dream: bring children to new hunting countries, broaden their hunting perspectives, and open their eyes to the fact that these hunting countries don’t just happen to be there for them by chance, but have been nurtured and conserved for the perpetuation of wildlife, open space, and for those who treasure the natural world.

“We want these kids to know what a conservation easement is,” said Marion Chungo, one of the organizers.

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