with Horse and Hound

Elizabeth H. Sutton


Farmington Accepts the Inevitable, Adds New Quarry

farmington.matthew.summersProfessional huntsman Matthew Cook and hounds of the Farmington Hunt (VA). / Cathy Summers photo

On a hot midsummer afternoon, huntsman Matthew Cook rode up to meet me on a green John Deere lawn mower. Cutting grass is just part of the work it takes to maintain the grounds and kennels at the Farmington Hunt Club (VA), home to sixty noisy, rambunctious foxhounds.

Coming to Farmington in the summer of 2013 from the Los Altos Hunt in northern California, Cook faced a new set of challenges, both in topography and local culture. He was learning his new job in the shadow of the forty-year reign of the revered Jill Summers, MFH, whose practice and policy of hunting only foxes laid the foundation for Farmington’s hounds. The pack was bred and trained to ignore anything non-vulpine.

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matthew cook2.cathy summers

Matthew Cook Is New Farmington Huntsman

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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Carol Easter Tribute Draws Hundreds to Farmington

easter1Honorary whipper-in Tom Bishop, huntsman Matthew Cook, and honorary  whipper-in Kimberlee Morton move off from Springhaven Farm for a memorial meet in honor of the late Carol Easter, MFH.  /  Cathy Summers photo

On a clear, sunny Saturday morning, December 19, 2015, two days after what would have been Master Carol O. Easter’s seventy-seventh birthday, the Farmington Hunt gathered on a grassy knoll at her beloved Springhaven Farm in Charlottesville, Virginia to celebrate her life and legacy.

MFH W. Patrick “Pat” Butterfield addressed a large gathering of fifty-five riders, family members, and guests as a chilly breeze prompted me to adjust the buttons on my coat. Blue Ridge mountains in the distance framed the classic scene of hounds rolling in the grass, horses milling about, and riders exchanging greetings in anticipation of moving off for the morning’s sport.

Multiple generations of friends and family, young and old, were there to be part of this special day. The entire Easter family was on hand to welcome a steady stream of visitors--a serious yet jovial field of riders and onlookers that included life-long close friends Carter McNeely and veteran octogenarian foxhunter and neighbor Bobbie Wells; on foot, Phyllis Jones and daughter Robin Mellen, and Ellie Wood Baxter. Bobbie shrugged against the chilly wind and quipped, “I might have not picked this day to come out, except for the day it is.”

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Farmington Hunt Puppy Show 2010

(L-R) Marksman and Marmite, best dog and best bitch

The annual Farmington Hunt Puppy Show was held at noon on Sunday, the first of many hot days of summer 2010, June 20th at the kennels. Pimm's Cup and other cool refreshments were served ringside by Forbes and Sherry Reback, and a post-show luncheon was served at the clubhouse by former club president B.J. Korol, with help from Kay Barquin, Shelly Thompson, and secretary and social co-chair Pattie Boden.

The hunt staff, Daron and Alison Beeney and kennelman Tom McCauley made sure the grounds were in beautiful shape for the event that welcomed a good crowd of members, visitors from out of town, and the Free Union neighborhood. Guest judges were Mrs. Phelps S. Hunter, ex-MFH of Los Altos Hounds (CA), and Martyn Blackmore, huntsman for the Loudoun West Hunt.

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