Fox Hunting Life with Horse and Hound

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Blue Ridge Hunt

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The Blue Ridge Hunt was organized in 1888, but this gently rolling grassland in the Valley of the Shenandoah echoed to the music of hounds, the huntsman’s horn, and the rhythm of galloping horses long before that time. A youthful George Washington regularly followed the hounds of his friend and employer Thomas, sixth Lord Fairfax nearly three hundred years ago over the very same hills and fields and along the same twists and turns of the Shenandoah River as do the Blue Ridge hounds today.

Website:  www.blueridgehunt.org

steve farrin.amwell valley.pa natl2013Huntsman Steve Farrin, parading Amwell Valley hounds at the Pennsylvania National Horse Show (2013).

It’s time for our annual report on the recent moves of huntsmen across North America. The huntsman is my hero. From the time we mount up and for the few hours that follow, it is he or she most directly responsible for the day’s sport. How the huntsman has bred, trained, deployed, and communicated with his troops—the hounds—has everything to do with the satisfaction of our day in the field.

The moves have been numerous this season, and, in a two cases, we have experienced whippers-in finally achieving their dream of a pack of their own to hunt. We’ll catch up with Alasdair Storer, Andrew Bozdan, Kathryn Butler, Stephen Farrin, Danny Kerr, Emily Melton, and Timothy Michel.

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steve farrin.amwell valley.pa natl2013Huntsman Steve Farrin, parading Amwell Valley hounds at the Pennsylvania National Horse Show (2013).

It’s time for our annual report on the recent moves of huntsmen across North America. The huntsman is my hero. From the time we mount up and for the few hours that follow, it is he or she most directly responsible for the day’s sport. How the huntsman has bred, trained, deployed, and communicated with his troops—the hounds—has everything to do with the satisfaction of our day in the field.

The moves have been numerous this season, and, in a two cases, we have experienced whippers-in finally achieving their dream of a pack of their own to hunt. We’ll catch up with Alasdair Storer, Andrew Bozdan, Kathryn Butler, Stephen Farrin, Danny Kerr, Emily Melton, and Timothy Michel.

Old Dominon Hounds (VA)
After twelve seasons carrying the horn at Amwell Valley Hounds (NJ), Stephen Farrin is moving to Old Dominion.

“I am a third generation huntsman,” wrote Steve, “who has hunted and consequently gleaned many years of valuable knowledge from my family, mentors, and fellow huntsmen to guide my experience.”

Indeed, Steve has had an exceedingly rare foundation for any huntsman. He grew up in the kennels of the Quorn (UK), in a hunting country considered the cream of High Leicestershire. For thirty seasons (1968 to 1998) Steve’s late father, Michael Farrin, was the acclaimed huntsman for the Quorn. This is the hunt that actually kicked off the era of modern mounted foxhunting late in the eighteenth century during the time of Hugo Meynell, MFH, namesake of the “Meynellian Science.” Meynell actually invented a brand new way of hunting the fox—at speed, over open country, jumping obstacles as they came. We’ve been doing it his way ever since.

An aspiring huntsman could have had no finer education than growing up in the Quorn kennels with foxhounds of the finest lineages, absorbing the breeding, training, raising, showing, and hunting of this renowned pack. Steve is also a 2009 graduate of the MFHA’s Professional Development Program.

Steve emigrated to the U.S. in 2006, whipped-in to the Myopia Hunt (MA), Rombout Hunt (NY), Green Spring Valley Hounds (MD) for six seasons, and spent the last twelve years as huntsman for the Amwell Valley.

Taking over the horn at Amwell Valley will be Kathryn Butler, who arrives in New Jersey from her previous post as professional huntsman for Limestone Creek Hunt (NY).

emily melton.karenkandraEmily Melton whipped-in at Howard County-Iron Bridge / Karen Kandra photo

New Market-Middletown Valley Hounds (MD)
Emily Melton moves to New Market-Middleton Valley as huntsman. Emily has whipped-in for nine seasons at the Howard County-Iron Bridge Hounds (MD) and is a another graduate of the MFH’s Professional Development Program. Emily feels good about her career advancement as she approaches her new post.

“I think I’m ready now,” she said. She paused for a moment, then looked at me squarely in the eye and said with absolute confidence, “Yes, I’m really ready for this step.”

Former New Market-Middletown Valley huntsman Alasdair Storer, who has also been hunting the Middletown Valley Beagles, will concentrate solely on the beagle pack as huntsman and Joint-Master. This is no surprise. Allie hunted a topnotch beagle pack in England before coming to the States, and has a special place in his heart for the breed.

Timothy Michel becomes another first-time huntsman as he takes over the horn for the Bull Run Hunt (VA). Tim has been mentored and trained by the Masters and huntsmen of two top American hunts—Midland Fox Hounds (GA) and Green Spring Valley Hounds (MD)—having whipped-in and served as kennel huntsman.

Sheila Jackson Brown, MFH, Green Spring Valley, while disappointed that Tim will be leaving, has no doubt that Tim is ready for this advancement in his career.

“I hunted 140 days at Midland and 115 days a season at Green Spring, so there is no question I love to hunt!” Tim told his new employers. His wife, Jody, has been managing the Green Spring Valley stables, and will be looking for a similar opportunity in the Bull Run country. Daughters Abby (sixteen) and Samantha (seven) are accomplished riders as well.

andy bozdan2Andy Bozdan calls in hounds.

Camargo Hunt (OH)
London-born Andy Bozdan is the new huntsman at Camargo. Andy has hunted all manner of hounds—from Old English foxhounds to Penn-Marydels, beagles, and bloodhounds. And he’s hunted hounds in all manner of hunting countries—England, Australia, and North America. And he arrives with his wife, Erin, who can whip-in to him!

Andy previously held the huntsman’s post at Tennessee Valley Hunt (TN), where he and whipper-in Erin Doyle were married. After that, he was the first huntsman for the newly-merged Loudoun-Fairfax Hunt (VA), before taking a sabbatical and whipping-in most recently to huntsman Graham Buston at the Blue Ridge Hunt (VA). Andy has made friends wherever he’s been.

Danny Kerr, Camargo’s huntsmen for the last twenty-nine seasons, has retired. Prior to moving to Camargo, he was professional huntsman at the Sedgefield Hunt (NC) for eight seasons. Now in his sixties, Danny has enjoyed a long career hunting hounds and looks forward to enjoying some entirely different aspects of life before picking up a hunting horn again. If, indeed, he decides to do that at all!

Danny’s son is about to enter his senior year of high school, is playing football, and has garnered sufficient attention such that Danny wants to be with him as the family looks toward their son’s future in college sport. And Danny’s good friend, Tot Goodwin, has just registered his newly established hunt with the MFHA this year, the Goodwin Hounds (NC), and Danny plans to spend some hunting time with Tot. For some huntsmen, retirement looks like an ending; for Danny Kerr, retirement looks more like a new beginning.

Posted June 30, 2019

canadian17.toronto north yorks blue ridge wentworthToronto and North York's Blue Ridge Wentworth 2015 (Mendip Farmers Wentworth 2011 ex Mendip Farmers Stylish 2011) is Grand Champion of Show -- again -- at Canadian Hound Show.  /   Denya Massey Clarke photo

The sixty-fifth annual Canadian Foxhound Show was hosted by the London Hunt (ON) on Saturday, June 8, 2019.

Giving the younger foxhounds a fighting chance for glory, Toronto and North York Hunt (ON) entered their Blue Ridge Wentworth 2015, a veteran of four seasons of hunting, only in the class for Stallion Hounds. That was enough for Wentworth, though. After winning that class, he vanquished all he met on his way to being judged Grand Champion of Show at Canada for the second time since 2017. This was his third Grand Championship since Bryn Mawr in 2016. Wentworth has an interesting history both in the field and on the flags.

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bryn mawr19.karenkGrand Champion of Show Blue Ridge Rambler 2018 with (l-r) Graham Buston, huntsman; L. Stockton Illoway, MB, President, Bryn Mawr Hound Show Association; Judge Dr. G. Marvin Beeman, MFH; and Sheri Buston, whipper-in / Karen Kandra photo

Dr. G. Marvin Beeman, MFH, judging the Grand Champion of Show class at Bryn Mawr, awarded the trophy and ribbon to Blue Ridge Rambler 2018. Dr. Beeman is the senior Master and former huntsman of the Arapahoe Hunt (CO) and a past president of the MFHA. The Bryn Mawr Hound Show was held in Malvern, PA, on Saturday, June 1, 2019.

Green Spring Valley Sapphire 2018, judged Grand Champion at Virginia the previous week, was Reserve Grand Champion.

Rambler (Green Spring Valley Fanshaw 2014 ex Heythrop Rattle 2011) is a modern English dog hound bred by Blue Ridge huntsman Graham Buston. Irish-born, Buston grew up in the County Limerick hunting country, whipped-in, then carried the horn for both the Co. Waterford and the Co. Limerick Foxhounds. He moved to the U.S. in 2013 with his Canadian-born wife, Sheri, who whips-in to him.

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canadian17.toronto north yorks blue ridge wentworthThe conformation of Toronto and North York's Blue Ridge Wentworth 2015, Grand Champion Foxhound at the 2017 Canadian Foxhound Show, is clearly seen in this well-posed photograph. / Denya Massey photo

Hound show champions should be photographed so their conformation is clearly visible to potential foxhound breeders, hound enthusiasts, and the historical record. The champions should be memorialized in a fashion such that others may see what the judges saw, as they carefully and critically studied each hound presented.

Historically, that has been the practice, and hound show organizers might want to remind show photographers of their primary mission at the hound show. Yes, we also want to see the smiling faces of the Masters, handlers, distinguished trophy presenters, and judges, along with candid shots of attendees enjoying the day. Those are also important and of interest to many viewers, but a classical portrait of the hound champions is Job-1. What follows are six-steps to achieve the image foxhound enthusiasts want to see.

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