Fox Hunting Life with Horse and Hound

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Johnsey's tribute to Bagpipe was first published in the 2016 Yearbook of the Tennessee Valley Hunt. The hunt, founded in 1989, is unique in that most of the founding members had never foxhunted prior to forming the hunt. Fortunately, they found their way to Dr. Todd “Doc” Addis who, along with his wife Happy, brought his hounds to Tennessee and taught the fledgling foxhunters all about hunting. Before leaving, Doc made a gift of twenty couple of Penn-Marydels to the Tennessee Valley Hunt.

Bagpipe Kimberton's Bagpipe 2010  /  Gretchen Pelham photo

I’ve chosen Kimberton’s Bagpipe 2010 as this year’s Hound of the Year. Prior to last hunt season, Bagpipe was nothing more than your everyday, stubborn, old filler hound. Terrified of his own shadow and extremely anti-social when it came to humans, Bagpipe did everything on his own terms. By the end of the 2014/2015 season he would pack in, walk out, and was only decent in the hunt field.

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epp and gro allison howellEpp Wilson, MFH, Belle Meade Hunt and Grosvenor Merle-Smith, MFH, Tennessee Valley Hunt are two men who create sport wherever they go. / Allison Howell photo

In January of 2010, Tennessee Valley Hunt had a three-day joint meet with the Belle Meade Hunt down in Georgia. Belle Meade’s MFH and Huntsman, Epp Wilson, had last hunted with TVH’s MFH Grosvenor Merle-Smith when Gro was huntsman for the Bull Run Hunt in Virginia several years earlier. They had what Epp described as an “epic” hunt chasing fox. The two huntsmen had finally organized a recap of that memorable hunt, and the expectations of both men were very high for the weekend.  

Twelve of us Tennesseans trekked south to Georgia just west of Augusta. Included were Grosvenor, his wife Rosie Merle-Smith, MFH, and our TVH huntsman Beth Blackwell who brought about eleven couple of Penn-Marydels.

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wws heythrop r achelWhy Worry Hounds' Heythrop Rachel 2011 is Grand Champion of the 2016 Carolinas Hound Show.

Why Worry’s Heythrop Rachel 2011 was judged Grand Champion at the fortieth annual Carolinas Hound Show held at the Springdale Racecourse in Camden, South Carolina on May 7, 2016. It’s one thing for a visiting MFH to pick up a nice draft to bring back to the home kennels; it’s another thing entirely to know what to do with it. Here’s where George and Jeannie Thomas, MFHs, Why Worry Hounds (SC), showed their breeding acumen.

While visiting friends in England and judging a puppy show at the Heythrop kennels, George mentioned that he needed a bi*ch* to introduce new bloodlines into his breeding program. We have just the hound for you, he was told. So he brought home a nicely-bred entered bi*ch, Heythrop Rachel 2011.

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skyler.smallClick photos for full size.  /   Cristy Grimsley/Hernandez photo

Seven-year-old Skyler Beauchene was the youngest member of the field out with the Tennessee Valley Hunt when hounds met at Riverplains, the family farm, in Strawberry Plains, Tennessee. The more senior generations of Skyler’s family in the photo are State Senator, Grandfather Frank Nicely (left) and international trainer and rider, Uncle Jose Hernandez (right).

Riverplains is one of the founding farms for the Tennessee Valley Hunt. They do organic growing, carriage driving, dressage, three-day eventing, and so much more. I also live there. Could not be anywhere else!

Skyler is mounted on his pony Cruisy; Riverplains owner Senator Frank is mounted on Farrah; and Jose is riding Roma, a carriage horse for his four-in-hand. All the horses are owned by Skyler’s mother Rachel Nicely, Frank’s daughter. Rachel also trains and has hunted since she was very little.

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Completing the recent round-robin of “Huntsmen on the Move,” Martyn Blackmore will be the new huntsman at the Loudoun Hunt (VA) come the month of May, the traditional month for hunt staff to move to their new posts. Blackmore is the departing huntsman at the Loudoun West Hunt, just across town. With this announcement, a circle is completed as three huntsmen trade places among three hunts.

Huntsman Andy Bozdan moves from the Tennessee Valley Hunt (TN) to fill the vacancy at Loudoun West. Huntsman Ryan Johnsey leaves the Loudoun Hunt to fill the vacancy at Tennessee Valley. And Blackmore, departing from Loudoun West, fills the vacancy at Loudoun.

"Sue and I look forward to meeting Andy and Erin Bozdan," said Martyn, "and will offer them any help they may need."

To most members of the field, the huntsman is a heroic figure on horseback who gives us great pleasure in our moments of recreation. For the huntsman, however, those glorious moments are but brief episodes ina career for which their are very few opportunities available in the entire world! What brings these men and women to commit their working lives to such a career? Foxhunting Life will be starting a new series of articles focusing on huntsmen and their own stories of how they came to their profession. It promises to be a fascinating glimpse of lives most of us know nothing about. Watch for it!

Posted April 24, 2013