Fox Hunting Life with Horse and Hound

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jordan hicks.tryon.erik olsenHuntsman Jordan Hicks moves from the Tryon Hounds to the Piedmont Fox Hounds / Erik Olsen photoAs we approach the close of the 2014/2015 foxhunting season, here’s our report on thirteen hunts that have either hired or will require a new huntsman for next season. We have already featured personal close-ups of three of the migrating huntsmen—Guy Allman, Brian Kiely, and Graham Buston—and we plan to bring you more.

We invite readers to fill us in on any moves that we’ve missed. We also invite you to send us a personal profile on any of these huntsmen that we can publish as a feature article. Or, just send us the information, and we’ll write the story. Use the “Contact Us” link that appears at the bottom of every screen to communicate directly with me, and be sure to include your phone number.

What follows is foxhunting’s version of musical chairs.

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robardsHugh Robards cubhunting with the Rolling Rock HuntTalk about experience. Hugh Robards has spent fifty-three years in hunt service. He whipped-in to some of the legendary huntsmen in England—Brian Gupwell at the Eridge (later to become huntsman for the Duke of Beaufort), Percy Durno and Captain Ronnie Wallace at the Heythrop, and Charlie Wilkin at the Wynnstay.

Upon Captain Wallace’s recommendation to Lord Daresbury, MFH of the County Limerick Foxhounds, Hugh moved to Ireland to take up his first post as huntsman. There he remained for twenty-seven seasons showing world-class sport to the Irish—none keener—and visiting sportsmen and women from around the globe.

After parting from the Limerick, he came to the U.S. to help rebuild the Rolling Rock Hunt (PA), remaining there as Master and huntsman until 2007. From Rolling Rock he moved to the Saxonburg Hunt (PA) where he served as huntsman until coming to the Middleburg Hunt last year as first whipper-in to huntsman Barry Magner. (Barry is moving to Australia this season, and we hope to catch our readers up with him in another article.)

“Hugh continually reinvents himself because of his love for his work,” said Juli Robards, his wife. “Transcending change is one of his great qualities, and I’m unabashedly one of his biggest fans!”

Those who have hunted behind him are big fans as well. Tony Leahy, who grew up in Ireland, is first vice-president of the MFHA and serves as Master and huntsman of the Fox River Valley Hunt (IL). “Hugh is without question one of the best huntsmen I’ve seen,” said Tony. “I remember hunting behind him at Limerick, and I’ve seen him do amazing things!”

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downing.dennis.karen mDennis Downing is the new huntsman at the Bedford Hunt (VA). / Karen L. Myers photo

Huntsman Robert Taylor hasn’t had a good rest in five years. He’s been hunting two separate packs of foxhounds in Maryland—the Goshen Hounds as Master and amateur huntsman and the New Market-Middletown Valley Hounds as professional huntsman. Huntsman Ken George has been driving hounds and horses six hours each way twice a week from Kansas to Iowa to hunt hounds in both states. Huntsmen love what they do, but each season ends with changes in the wind.

As this hunting season draws to a close, we see huntsmen on the move again. Starting in the north and progressing southward then west, here’s what we know so far; please let us know who we’ve left out.

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robards.hugh.alex.farnham1What does a huntsman do when he finds himself in the autumn of his prime? The same question faces every athlete who commits his or her life to a sport. Some carry on doggedly until they are unable to continue or until their career is terminated by outside forces. Others find a path to contribute their experience and knowhow to the benefit of a new team in a different way.

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foxhound and parrotAt home with Cathy and friendCathy Eising has a twenty-month-old foxhound out of her mother’s rescue foxhound, and she works at his training diligently. She writes:

“I am seeking advice on how to raise the foxhound as a family dog, especially off-leash training. Will he ever stop chasing wild things and pay attention to me outdoors? I have done a lot of obedience with him, and all areas are coming well except off leash outdoors. He needs to run and I can't walk fast enough or long enough for him to get properly exercised, so I need to trust that he will come when called under all circumstances (including around deer). I'm very dedicated and work with him every day.”

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