Fox Hunting Life with Horse and Hound

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Fort Leavenworth Opening Meet Attracts Foxhunters From Coast to Coast

Buffalo rideAs a part of Opening Meet Weekend 2016, Riders in formal attire participate in a tribute at the Buffalo Soldiers monument. Front, l-r: Infantry Major Jeroen van Rantwijk of the Royal Netherlands Army, who is attending the Command and General Staff College, and Honorary huntsman Dr. Steven Thomas.

The Fort Leavenworth Hunt (KS) put together an Opening Meet Weekend attracting foxhunters from ten states and featuring the hunt’s unique place in our nation’s history. One hundred mounted riders and fifty car-toppers participated in a three-day program that included a historic ride on the 5,600-acre post, Opening Meet, Military Hunt Ball, wreath laying ceremony at the Buffalo Soldiers monument, and guided tours. The events were led by both military and civilian personnel, as appropriate.

Attending guests included current Masters from Bijou Springs Hunt (CO), Bridlespur Hunt (MO), North Hills Hunt (NE) as well as members from other hunts hailing from Alabama, California, Colorado, Kansas, Kentucky, Missouri, Nebraska, Iowa, South Carolina, and Virginia.

Built in 1827, Fort Leavenworth is the oldest active United States Army post west of Washington, D.C. The fort is also the oldest permanent settlement in Kansas. Historically, Fort Leavenworth has been known as the Army’s intellectual center. During the country's westward expansion, Fort Leavenworth was a forward destination for thousands of soldiers, surveyors, immigrants, American Indians, preachers and settlers who passed through. The fort was the eastern terminus of the Santa Fe and Oregon Trails, and the weekend events were aimed at exposing visitors to much of the post's history.

Grosvenor’s Hill

epp and gro allison howellEpp Wilson, MFH, Belle Meade Hunt and Grosvenor Merle-Smith, MFH, Tennessee Valley Hunt are two men who create sport wherever they go. / Allison Howell photo

In January of 2010, Tennessee Valley Hunt had a three-day joint meet with the Belle Meade Hunt down in Georgia. Belle Meade’s MFH and Huntsman, Epp Wilson, had last hunted with TVH’s MFH Grosvenor Merle-Smith when Gro was huntsman for the Bull Run Hunt in Virginia several years earlier. They had what Epp described as an “epic” hunt chasing fox. The two huntsmen had finally organized a recap of that memorable hunt, and the expectations of both men were very high for the weekend.  

Twelve of us Tennesseans trekked south to Georgia just west of Augusta. Included were Grosvenor, his wife Rosie Merle-Smith, MFH, and our TVH huntsman Beth Blackwell who brought about eleven couple of Penn-Marydels.

Old North Bridge Hounds in the Footprints of History II

onbh.old manse.liz goldsmith.cropThe Old North Bridge Hounds meet at The Old Manse, home of Ralph Waldo Emerson and his forebears, adjacent to the North Bridge, their namesake. / Elizabeth Goldsmith photo

In an earlier story, we read of the Old North Bridge Hounds (MA) meeting at historic Longfellow’s Wayside Inn in nearby Sudbury. This drag pack, established in 1969 and recognized by the MFHA in 1973, boasts connections back to Colonial days, and hounds hunt routinely across some of our nation’s most hallowed ground.

The hunt was organized in Concord, Massachusetts, the town that inhospitably hosted several companies of British regulars on the 19th of April, 1775. On that fateful day, the first British casualties of the War of Independence were shot and killed at the Old North Bridge spanning the Concord River. The redcoats were driven back to Cambridge by scores of Minute Men from surrounding towns who had assembled there, having been rousted by Paul Revere the night before.

Foxhunting in the “Garden of Ireland”

west wicklow.mcCauley.mullins.cropWest Wicklow Senior Master and huntsman Rupert Macauley takes hounds to covert.  /   Noel Mullins photo

Well-known hunting author Willie Poole once said, “There is no landscape in the world that can’t be enhanced by a pack of hounds.” County Wicklow, known colloquially as the Garden of Ireland, has a reputation for beauty quite on its own. Add the foxhounds to a landscape of blue skies, sheep grazing in green fields, extensive plantations, and snow-capped hills, and the image describes perfectly my day with hounds from Pat Kavanagh’s Hampton Lodge Equestrian Centre at Brittas.