Fox Hunting Life with Horse and Hound

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Kids Star at All-Junior Handlers Hound Show

JRs Photo by Rick Stillings 1Judges Graham and Sheri Buston make certain that every competitor at the Junior Handlers Hound Show gets their undivided attention and assistance. / Rick Stillings photo

More than thirty children, ranging in age from fourteen months to sixteen years, enjoyed a day showing, learning, and making new friends at the Central Virginia Young Entry Junior Handlers Hound Show on June 10, 2018 in Charlottesville, Virginia. This unique event offered a full schedule just for youngsters, including four showmanship sections, a retired foxhound class, a modified pack class, and horn blowing and whip cracking contests.

The emphasis was on creating a fun, welcoming day for juniors from any background—even those with no previous foxhunting or hound showing experience. Keeping with this accommodating theme, organizers invited bassets and beagles to compete, as well as foxhounds.

Judges Graham and Sheri Buston, huntsman and whipper-in at the Blue Ridge Hunt, perfectly combined cheerful patience and helpful suggestions with keen professional eyes for pinning the best exhibitors in each event. Foxfield Racing Association kindly offered use of their lush green course just outside Charlottesville as the beautiful venue.

Fifty-six Juniors Vie for JNAFH Championships at Belle Meade

jnafhc17.finalistsFifty-six junior finalists line up for their commemorative photo at Foxboro, home of Belle Meade Master and host Epp Wilson. / Eric Bowles photo

Junior foxhunters, their horses, parents, and friends traveled from thirteen states to Thomson, Georgia, where the Belle Meade Hunt hosted the finals of the fifteenth annual Junior North American Field Hunter Championships on November 11-13, 2017.

Throughout the course of the informal season, hunts around the country held qualifying meets from which the young finalists were chosen by mounted judges. Of the 216 juniors who qualified to compete in the finals, fifty-six young riders from eighteen North American hunts—more than twenty-five percent of those qualified—traveled to Belle Mead to hunt, compete, see old friends, and make a pile of new friends. And did they have a wonderful time! It was truly a pleasure to see.

Foxhunting Junior Wins USEF Pony Medal Final

IMG 1024Ada Catherine hunting at Moore County on a lovely Thoroughbred mare owned by T.J. Watson, a hunting friend.

Ada Catherine Hays has been on the foxhunting scene since she was in diapers.  “She was an infant in her father’s arms waiting for me at the breakfast after a hunt,” said her mom Elizabeth Hays. “She started hunting on a lead line at the age of four, sharing an 11.3-hand pony field hunter with her brother. She was off the lead and hunting on a great pony at the age of six.”

In mid-August, Ada Catherine, now twelve, took her show pony, Center Field, to her first-ever major show, and won the USEF Pony Medals Final over 164 entries. That’s what the foxhunting experience gives talented young riders. It’s interesting that this story of Ada Catherine’s experience follows so closely on the heels of our recent article about seventeen-year-old Caelinn Leahy, foxhunter and Grand Prix jumper winner.

Big Year Ahead for Junior Field Hunter Championships

masters and junior fox hunters at Belle Meade Hunt opening meetThe 2017 Finals of the JNAFHC will be hosted by the Belle Meade Hunt (GA) on November 10-12. In this photo, Belle Meade Masters and  juniors celebrate an Opening Meet on the front steps of the clubhouse, Boots Hall. Masters, standing in the back row are: (left) Epp Wilson, (middle) Dr. Gary Wilkes, and (right) Charlie Lewis.

How much foxhunting excitement can juniors buy for $75.00 these days? A junior with turbo-jet-powered horse transport could conceivably hunt with up to twenty-two packs of hounds in twelve states from the East to the Mid-West in qualifying meets over a three-month period this fall. Juniors without such a machine will still find several meets in their region plus an exciting weekend at the finals.

Information for the coming season’s schedule of meets and a single entry form for the entire series is available on the JNAFHC website. MFHA President Tony Leahy, MFH will be Chief Judge at the championship finals the weekend of November 10 to 12.

Some years ago, as the field was walking through the country during one qualifying meet, a child stared at an attractive house and asked a question that warmed the hearts of the organizers.  “Why,” she asked, “would someone build a house in the middle of such nice hunting country?”

Caelinn Leahy’s Horse Hunts, Wins $50,000 Grand Prix

caelinn-leahy-and-splendor-jumper-and-field-hunterCaelinn Leahy and Splendor go airborne, celebrating their Grand Prix Jumper win at HITS Balmoral in July. "He's so laid back out hunting!" Caelinn says. / Andrew Ryback photography

Back in the day, horsemen and women used to show or event their horses in the summer and foxhunt the same horses in the fall and winter. We don’t see that any more, except maybe in Ireland where they still believe that foxhunting teaches horses about some of the fun in life, how to handle the terrain, and how to get themselves out of trouble by finding that fifth leg when needed.

Fifteen-year-old Caelinn Leahy, who has a connection to Irish ways through her dad, Tony, foxhunts an eighteen-year-old bay Hanoverian gelding. His name is Splendor, and he’s a show jumper, too. On July 22nd, Caelinn and Splendor won the $50,000 HITS Balmoral Grand Prix in Illinois.