with Horse and Hound

Norman Fine

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Hunt Attire: No Single Truth

norm.kleckThe author in informal cubhunting attire / Nancy Kleck photoTraditional foxhunting attire is important to me, but I’m not a fanatic.

Why is it important? Respect...for three hundred years of sport, art, literature, and the men and women who had the passion, energy, and intellect to formulate and leave us one of the most exhilarating activities known to man. For these reasons it pains me to see the concepts of appropriate attire ignored in many hunting fields today.

There is good reason to dress modestly and uniformly. Foxhunting is about the hounds and the quarry; it’s not a stage for man or horse. Its dress code can be described as stratified uniformity—stratified between staff, Master, and field so we can quickly identify who’s who in the heat of battle, and uniformity so that we all maintain our modest place in the overall scheme of the sport.

Why, on the other hand, am I not fanatical about correct hunting attire? Because there is no single truth.

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morven park mansion

Saturday at the Museum

-Tommy Lee Jones, David Wendler, and John J. Carle to be honored by induction to the Huntsmen’s Room
-Exhibition and sale of artworks by Sam Savitt and Kathleen Friedenberg

morven park mansionThe mansion at Morven Park, Leesburg, Virginia

In concert with the Virginia Foxhound Show, the Museum of Hounds and Hunting at Morven Park, Leesburg, Virginia, is preparing for its “Annual” Reception and special events over the Memorial Day Weekend on Saturday, May 28, 2022, after a two-year hiatus.

At 4:00 PM, Robert Ferrer, MFH, Chairman of the Huntsmen’s Room Committee, will step to the podium and open the formal ceremonies. Ferrer will introduce the presenters for each new inductee to the Huntsmen’s Room―Bill Fendley, ex-MFH, Casanova Hunt (VA) for Tommy Lee Jones; Scott Tepper, ex-MFH, West Hills Hunt (CA) and the Red Rock Hounds (NV) for David Wendler; and Mrs. John J. Carle for her late husband, Jake. From three disparate but all-American backgrounds, the three huntsmen followed three separate paths to this honor by their peers. Read on.

At 5:00 PM, the Huntsmen’s Room in the Morven Park mansion will open for viewing, as will the art exhibit and sale of the works of two well-known equestrian artists, the late Sam Savitt and Kathleen Friedenberg.

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Old Dominion Point-to-Point

odhptp22.maiden hurdle1Going to the Start  /   Douglas Lees photo

The Old Dominion Point-to-Point Races held on April 9, 2022, at Ben Venue drew the healthiest list of entries so far this season. No jump race went off with a field of less than five horses, and the second race, Maiden Hurdle, was split into three divisions of from seven to nine horses in each. There was fine weather and a number of close and exciting finishes, making it a good day for the spectators as well.

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adam lindsay gordon large.wiki

Adam Lindsay Gordon (1833−1870)

adam lindsay gordon large.wikiAdam Lindsay Gordon, c. 1860

English-born Adam Lindsay Gordon was a maverick. At least from the standpoint of a series of boarding schools through which he passed, having been shipped off from home at the age of seven. At age nineteen, he was again shipped off, this time to Australia. His father hoped his son would find a fresh start.

Adam's life was short but active. He was an exceptional horseman. After arriving in Australia, he joined the mounted police. He trained and rode steeplechasers, never shrank from a dare, was elected to Parliament, and is considered one of Australia's finest poets. A statue of Gordon was erected in Melbourne, near Parliament, bearing these words from his poem, "Ye Wearie Wayfare."

"Life is mostly froth and bubble
Two things stand like stone,
Kindness in another's trouble
Courage in your own."

What follows is a toast by Gordon, written to be sung. The first line is especially familiar to foxhunters when raising a glass. With apologies, I must admit that this toast was pretty much written for the men’s bar.

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Piedmont Fox Hounds Point-to-Point

piedmontptp22.maiden timber.leesMaiden Timber Race: (l-r) Profiteer (Eric Poretz up) finishes third; Cracker Factory (Brett Owings) places second; Ya Boy Ya (McLane Hendriks) is first. / Douglas Lees photo

Piedmont ran seven races over the Salem Race Course in Upperville, Virginia on Saturday, March 26, 2022―four timber races and three on the flat.

McLane Hendriks rode two winners this day, book-ending the day’s races. His first came in the First Race, Maiden Timber, and his second in the Seventh Race, Virginia VHBPA Flat. In the Maiden Timber, Hendriks held Ya Boy Ya off the pace, content leading the middle runners in the six-horse field most of the way around. In the final quarter he asked his horse and won the race in the stretch by a length-plus. The Irish-bred Ya Boy Ya is owned by Bon Nouvel Chasers II and trained by Julie Gomena.

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West Waterford Foxhounds at Ballyduff, Co Waterford

 wwaterford.moving off.powerMoving off from Ballyduff to the first draw are (l-r) Philip Desmond, MFH; whipper-in Alan Curley; huntsman Donal McAuliffe; and Field Master Connie Curley.  /   Catherine Power photo

Philip Desmond must be one of the best-known names in Irish hunting, be it in Cork or Waterford, and why wouldn’t it be? In addition to farming, he has hunted the Cloyne Harriers, the Dungarvan Foxhounds, and the famed Avondhu in North Cork. He is now Joint-Master of the West Waterford but no longer carries the horn. That task has been passed on to Donal McAuliffe, a young dairy farmer. It would be hard to find a more enthusiastic huntsman than he, this side of Leicestershire.

The invitation from Philip was concise. “Be on the bridge at Ballyduff by eleven on Saturday if you want to see some proper hunting.”

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warrentonptp22.open hurdle

Warrenton Point-to-Point Attracts Strong Entries to Airlie

 warrentonptp22.open hurdleFirst Race, Open Hurdle, (l-r) Decisive Triumph (#4), (Jamie Bargary up) is the winner. Gerard Galligan on Bet The Pot finishes third.  /   Douglas Lees photo

Spectators and horses enjoyed a comfortable day of racing over the Airlie racecourse at the Warrenton Hunt Point-to-Point on Saturday, March 19, 2022. Entries were strong, especially in the hurdle races. There were just two, Open and Maiden, but the latter was broken into three divisions of seven to eight entries in each, making the eight-race card more like a ten-race day.

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fox cubs.jim graham

With the Fox Cubs at Dusk

As the month of March advances to its close, we all know that newly-whelped fox cubs are at this very moment huddled out of sight and underground, not yet having seen nor felt the light of day. We wait and watch, hoping for a sight of them, but more likely contenting ourselves with occasional daylight views of the vixen or dog fox now working overtime day-shifts to feed a voracious and growing family. ―Ed.

fox cubs.jim grahamJim Graham photo

Yesterday I visited a Fort. It was one of the many great, circular, centuries-old Danish structures that are so numerous in this eastern part of County Cavan, Ireland. Its ramparts and fosses are still well-defined despite the ravages of ages. The inhabitants used it as their home in times of peace, and as their stockyard and stronghold when invasion threatened. The inhabitants evidently disliked isolation, and their fortress was erected on such well-chosen eminence that they were in full view of their neighbours on some adjoining hill; indeed it is a local belief that seven neighbouring forts are visible from any particular one.

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martin letts2.courtest Daphne wood

Martin Letts, Longtime MFH, Leading Hound Breeder

martin letts2.courtest Daphne woodMartin Letts, MFH  /    photo courtesy of Daphne Wood, MFH

John Martin Letts died February 28, 2022, at the age of eighty-eight, still fulfilling his position as a Master of the College Valley/North Northumberland Foxhounds (UK). Appointed Master in 1964, he held the position for fifty-eight seasons.

His hounds hunt the hill country of the English/Scottish Border. A highly regarded hound breeder, the bloodlines of his Fell/Modern English crosses are to be found in many hunt kennels today in Britain, Ireland, and America. He was formerly huntsman of the pack, which he skillfully bred and assembled. Martin Letts was well-known in North America and frequently judged the major hound shows here.

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rappahannock ptp 2022.small pony

Rappahannock Kicks Off Virginia’s Point-to-Points

rappahannock ptp 2022.small ponyChewy, Will Slater up, wins the Small Pony Race. 

Rappahannock wisely and prominently promoted the rain date for their first-of-the-season race day, knowing all too well the vagaries of Virginia weather in early March. Fortunately, on March 5, 2022, the scheduled date was a highly pleasant day to spend outdoors at the new steeplechase course on Larry Levy’s Hill Farm just outside Culpeper, Virginia. A week later, as I sit filing this report, snow is still falling on three inches of the stuff already on the ground.

Seven races were carded: three pony races on the flat―Small, Medium, and Large―and two Timber Races followed by two flat races. Of a total of twenty-eight entries for all seven races, nearly half―sixteen entries―were ponies. I hope the strong showing of pony entries interests other race planners looking forward.

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