with Horse and Hound

Denya Dee Leake

ddl fox hunting

Whipping-In Is a Rush

ddl fox huntingWhipping-in on Fearnought, the author's favorite.Cold and wet from rain on my thirty-six-inch pony Toy Mouse, with my fearless two-legged leader...mom Caroline...at the other end of the lead-line: that’s how I became addicted to a sport known as foxhunting. When we got in from hunting, my wool hunt coat weighed more than I did.

Since then, every autumn, from age four until now (not going to disclose that, but I’ve finished college!), there is a sense of anticipation and adrenaline that rushes through my veins. Foxhunters know how the goose bumps rise on your skin the moment those hunting hounds open up on a fresh scent of a fox or coyote, and away they go! This adrenaline rush only multiples, if you can believe it, when a person is allowed to have the honor of being a whipper-in.

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cubhunting.ddl

Foggy Cubhunting Morning

Denya Dee Leake shot this dramatic photo and recorded the cry of hounds with her smartphone. Hounds found a fox near the kennels, sang all the hound music that one could wish for, and pushed their quarry hard through the course of the morning in a huge circuit and finally to ground back near the find. A fine school for the young entry and an exciting start to the Blue Ridge Hunt’s 129th season. More than twenty riders and staff, along with car followers, braved the early hour start on the morning of September 3rd, 2016.
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graham buston.hounds.maisano

A Fast Day and Foxes Aplenty at Blue Ridge

graham buston.hounds.maisanoHuntsman Graham Buston, hounds, staff, and field of the Blue Ridge Hunt  /  Joanne Maisano photo

The November morning was unseasonably warm as I tacked up my beautiful Cleveland Bay/TB cross, Fearnought. It was a surprise that I had come home from school, but with my mother keeping him fit for me, I knew that he would be all ready for a day’s hunting. Conveniently, the Blue Ridge Hunt (VA) meet was only a fifteen-minute hack from my grandmother’s stable where I keep my horse. By the time we arrived I was already very warm in my formal coat and wondering, ‘Did I drive all the way home for nothing?’

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lowcountry.caroline

A New Hunting Experience in the Lowcountry

lowcountry.carolineSouth Carolina's Lowcountry / Caroline Leake photo

I have been hunting for fourteen years now—since age six—and recently experienced a completely different way of hunting! I visited the Lowcountry Hunt in South Carolina to visit old friends—Lowcountry huntsman Martyn Blackmore and his lovely wife Sue. My mom Caroline and I drove down on Friday, December 12, to be ready to go hunting on Saturday. My first observation was everything is flat! Absolutely no hills. And the footing is sand—much different than what I am used to here in the Blue Ridge of Virginia.

Martyn was up by 4:30 in the morning and getting hounds ready since we had a two-hour drive ahead of us. The pack is mostly Crossbred, but when Martyn came to the Lowcountry he brought with him some puppies bred from his favorite Old English lines.

Sue was up getting the horses ready to go. The meet was at a place called Palmetto Bluff. I thought we had arrived because we pulled off the road into a smaller driveway. Wow, was I wrong! The driveway started as pavement and then went to gravel and then to sand and then we were not particularly on a road at all, just more of a path in the woods. We kept driving and driving, and fourteen miles later we ended up at the meet.

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odhhuntreport

Cubhunting at Old Dominion

Cubhunting is in full swing and it’s time to be publishing hunt reports once again. Here’s one from an honorary whipper-in to the Old Dominion Hounds (VA) about a good hunt on a clever fox. How are your hounds doing? Click to send us your story and photos. John Stuart (left), huntsman Ross Salter (center), honorary whipper-in Denya Dee Leake (right) watch the Old Dominion hounds speak to their line. / Michele Arnold photo Promptly at 8:00 am huntsman Ross Salter sent hounds into covert, and by the time I got around the covert—which took no more than two minutes—hounds had opened. I galloped down the side of the road trying to stay in front of them just in case they shot over to cross the road. No sooner had I reached the end of the covert, out popped the fox! It was a big, healthy red fox. I hollered, and hounds came flying. They crossed the road into Warrenton Hunt’s country. I went around the left-hand side of the covert while Ross went through the middle. The fox ran all the way to the end of the woods and made a sharp right hand circle, heading back to where he had come from. He then made something close to a  serpentine through the woods, but the hounds never lost him. They kept the pressure on. There is a small valley going through the woods and the fox really worked that valley. He kept crossing a small creek but still could not shake hounds off. He finally crossed a big road, and Ross thought he had better stop hounds before one got hit. It had been a great cubhunting morning. We had run for about an hour and a half. All puppies and entered hounds were accounted for. We were smiling all the way home and so proud of the puppies! Posted September 16, 2014... This content is for subscribers only.Log In Join Now
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HornBlowing edited-1

How Old Dominion’s Huntsman Hooks the Kids

HornBlowing edited-1Colby Poe huffs and puffs on huntsman Ross Salter's hunting horn. Honorary whipper-in Denya Dee Leake tells the story.  / Michele Arnold photo

Ross Salter, first-season huntsman at Old Dominion Hounds (VA), and I came to the hunt three seasons ago. There were a few juniors in the field on a regular basis and always a good number on Junior Day. This year, however, the number of juniors on ordinary hunting days has increased dramatically, and Junior Day was a complete surprise to everyone.

We met at Copperfield Farm, between the village of Hume and the village of Orlean. The staff walked to the top of the hill with hounds and waited for the juniors to join us. They started coming up the hill, and they just kept coming and coming. We had juniors that were nearly adults, juniors that were just old enough to ride away from their parents, and some that were being led by their parents! In total we had fifty-two juniors surrounding the hounds.

Including the juniors we had a field of one hundred and nineteen riders. In all of Old Dominion’s history I do not believe that they have seen so many juniors in one place on perfectly behaved horses and ponies. The Masters, Gus Forbush, Dr. Scott Dove, and Douglas Wise-Stuart, each assigned certain kids to each staff member and to become Field Master. Each of us staff members had two kids with us at the beginning, and we slowly brought more kids up as the day went on.

So Why All the Juniors?

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HornBlowing edited-1

Hunt Reports: How Old Dominion’s Huntsman Hooks the Kids

HornBlowing edited-1Colby Poe huffs and puffs on huntsman Ross Salter's hunting horn. Honorary whipper-in Denya Dee Leake tells the story.  / Michele Arnold photo

Ross Salter, first-season huntsman at Old Dominion Hounds (VA), and I came to the hunt three seasons ago. There were a few juniors in the field on a regular basis and always a good number on Junior Day. This year, however, the number of juniors on ordinary hunting days has increased dramatically, and Junior Day was a complete surprise to everyone.

We met at Copperfield Farm, between the village of Hume and the village of Orlean. The staff walked to the top of the hill with hounds and waited for the juniors to join us. They started coming up the hill, and they just kept coming and coming. We had juniors that were nearly adults, juniors that were just old enough to ride away from their parents, and some that were being led by their parents! In total we had fifty-two juniors surrounding the hounds.

Including the juniors we had a field of one hundred and nineteen riders. In all of Old Dominion’s history I do not believe that they have seen so many juniors in one place on perfectly behaved horses and ponies. The Masters, Gus Forbush, Dr. Scott Dove, and Douglas Wise-Stuart, each assigned certain kids to each staff member and to become Field Master. Each of us staff members had two kids with us at the beginning, and we slowly brought more kids up as the day went on.

So Why All the Juniors?

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