Fox Hunting Life with Horse and Hound

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Read Your Horse

expressive horseThis Douglas Lees photograph captures the huntsman’s horse expressing himself most clearly!

A horse walks into a bar.

“Why the long face?” asks the bartender.

Scientists at the University of Sussex must have heard that old joke and taken it seriously. They have discovered that horses are able to employ seventeen distinct facial expressions—three more than chimpanzees and one more than dogs. Humans, by way of comparison, are able to communicate their most subtle feelings by twenty-seven different facial expressions through our exceedingly dexterous facial musculature.

Warrenton Kicks Off Virginia Point-to-Point Season

Photos by Douglas Lees

 warrentonptp19.open hurdle.jpgOpen Hurdle race, Second Division: (l-r) Orchestra Leader, 15, (Keri Brion up) wins in the fastest time of both divisions. Storm Team is 4th and Special Skills finishes 3rd.

Hunt racing in Virginia opened on a beautiful spring day with the Warrenton Hunt Point-to-Point at Airlie on Saturday, March 16, 2019. Ten races were carded with the Open Hurdle and Maiden Hurdle races split into two well-filled divisions each.

Three Tries, the Charm, for Field Hunter Champion

trfhc18.wittenborn.leesJohn Wittenborn and Soccer, representing the Smithtown Hunt (NY), win 2018 Theodora Randolph Field Hunter Championship in Virginia.

John Wittenborn and his fourteen-year-old Clydesdale-Thoroughbred cross, Soccer, returned home to Long Island and the Smithtown Hunt with the Championship Trophy and ribbon from the Theodora Randolph 2018 Field Hunter Championship in Virginia. Three tries was the charm for Wittenborn and Soccer. Last year the pair made a good showing, placing third.

It was the first team from a northern hunt to have won the coveted prize in thirty-five years of competitions. And it was fitting; Mrs. Randolph was a northerner, though from Boston’s North Shore.

Going in Front

going in front.robin williams

One time when I was temporarily horseless, the huntsman offered me a mount. The horse, an ex-chaser with a lovely disposition and a big confident jump, was for sale because, according to the huntsman, “He won’t go in front.” After a vigorous day of hunting during which the horse in question certainly acted as though he wanted to go in front, I soaked my sore, stretched arms in liniment and remained curious about the huntsman’s assessment.

Not long after riding the ex-chaser, I had the privilege of hunting up front with huntsman Tony Gammell, where I got a lesson in the meaning of “going in front.”

Once-In-A-Lifetime

solo.huntSolo Lord and Michael Hoffman in the hunting field.A dear friend was lost today. We have known each other since he was two. There was an immediate friendship and connection. We did a lot of firsts together, and when we were both home you knew the other was there. He was an international traveler, visiting the Cheltenham Festival in the spring of 2002. He loved to foxhunt but was just as happy doing grid work and flat work.

The late Bay Cockburn and Gordie Keyes introduced us in Olney, Maryland. He was tall and skinny with a devilish gleam in his eye and a scar around his right ankle. And you knew right off there was something special about him. He was tough, but a quick learner and a graceful athlete. He took to field sports immediately and nothing was beyond his reach.

Senior Senator Captures Second Maryland Hunt Cup

mhc18.crawfordsdaviesSkip and Vicki Crawford, MFHs, Potomac Hunt, celebrate their horse's second winning of the Maryland Hunt Cup with trainer Joe Davies (center). / Douglas Lees photoAfter winning the Grand National Steeplechase in Butler, Maryland on April 21, 2018, Senior Senator marched to the starting line of the legendary Maryland Hunt Cup at Worthington Farms on the following Saturday, April 28. The eight-year-old bay gelding with the long white blaze must have reminded himself, ‘I won this race two years ago, and I can do it again.’ And he did. Two prestigious wins in two successive weeks. Senator is now two legs up on the three wins necessary to retire the cup for owner Skip Crawford and his wife Vicki, MFHs of the Potomac Hunt (MD).