Fox Hunting Life with Horse and Hound

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Advice From a Junior Whipper-In

carmen powell-sadikHere’s astute, peer-to-peer advice for juniors aspiring to become honorary hunt staff. I can’t help but wonder how many huntsmen out there would love to have Carmen on his/her staff!

We, juniors, are the future of foxhunting. It is our responsibility to be knowledgeable and to keep this fantastic sport alive and traditional.

Have you ever peered past the first Field Master at those tiny white specs in the distance—the hounds—and wondered what's going on up there, what that blast of the horn meant, where that scarlet-clad rider is galloping off to in such a hurry? Ever think about whipping-in?

What to Think About Before You Decide to Whip-In
Whipping-in can be the most exhilarating, amazing adventure ever, or it can be the most terrifying, stressful experience ever. It largely depends on how you handle the thrills and horrors that being a whip sends your way.

Whipping-in doesn't only take place on your horse in the hunt field. It takes place in the kennels, in the stables, at home with a mountain of books, and in the mud on your backside watching your mount vanish into the distance.

A Hunting Trio

kristin warrington.uspcFoxhunter/Pony Clubber Kristin WarringtonKristin is the winning author in the 2014 Hildegard Neill Ritchie Foxhunting Writing Contest sponsored annually by the United States Pony Club. The contest is open to all D- or C-rated Pony Club members, whether or not they have hunted. Kristin is a C-1 from the St. Augustine Pony Club, Delmarva Region, and here's her winning story.

The Fox
The grass is frosted over in the shady areas where the woods touch the long sloping fields. As I trot along, tense and listening, I notice the familiar trails through the trees and undergrowth are wearing recently made hoof prints and accessorized by a lone, twisted horseshoe that seems to have come off an unlucky rider’s mount. They have already been through this way several times, but that is part of my plan. I like to lead them in monotonous circles, repeatedly using the same paths, and drag it out until they are almost desperate enough to call off the hounds and begin a new search, then I take a sudden sprint through an open field allowing them to see me long enough to call out, “Tallyho!” and try desperately to gather up the hounds who are still off in the woods sniffing out my scent. I decide upon this familiar strategy and take a sharp turn up into a large field. I take a quick survey of the surroundings, and feel a sudden gust of courage take over me. Heart pounding with thrill, and my mind marveling at the sheer cleverness of my evasion from my predators, I dash madly between the crowd of horses’ legs.

Passing It On: The Children's Hunt at Woodford Hounds

woodford1What's wrong with this picture? asks Mary Pierson at the Children's Hunt to test the youngsters' knowledge of proper hunting attire. Master Jane Winegardner (scarlet coat) observes with amusement.   / Sive Doyle photoTake a look around your hunt field. If your youngest members are the cute couple in their thirties, foxhunting is in trouble. Unless we share our passion with youngsters, foxhunting will die out when we do.

It doesn’t take a lot of effort to set the stage for a Children’s Hunt, and you’ll be well-rewarded when you see all the smiles at the end of the day. Michelle Primm was the force behind Woodford’s Children’s Hunt on March 23, 2013. She held well-attended foxhunting camps the past two summers to introduce children to the basics of foxhunting, and a trailer-load of suitable ponies arrived at several meets during the season to take her students out for a day of sport. Wanting to get more kids together at the same time, “Aunt Primm” approached Woodford Masters Robbie Lyons, Jane Winegardner, and Jim FitzGerald with plans for the Children’s Hunt. Woodford Huntsman Glen Westmoreland was all in favor with just one caveat: no lectures!

Live Oak Hounds/USPC Challenge Winners Announced

 

gsv pcGreen Spring Hounds Pony Club members on a cubhunting morning: (l-r) Brenna Miller, Brigitte Frasier (mom, chaperone), Will Frasier, and Shelby Langlois / Pam Stockdale photo

The Green Spring Valley Pony Club in Maryland won the eighth annual Live Oak Hounds USPC Foxhunting Challenge Award for 2014. The Challenge Award is made possible through the generous support of Mr. and Mrs. C. Martin Wood III, Joint-Masters of the Live Oak Hounds in Monticello, Florida and Past Presidents of the MFHA.

The Award is designed to encourage Pony Club members who do not regularly hunt to try the sport and to reward members who hunt on a regular basis to act as mentors to the less-experienced Pony Club members. Ten thousand dollars in awards are distributed each year among the top six Pony Clubs who introduce the greatest number of active Pony Club members to the sport of foxhunting.

A handful of avid foxhunters established the United States Pony Club in 1954, and the sport and the Club continue to share a close bond.

Juniors Rule at Snickersville's Junior Meet

7Connor PoeConnor Poe whipped-in with Robyn Harter. / Middleburg PhotoLike most days at Nelson Gunnell’s Banbury Cross we expected a large field. But this was Junior Day—a day when the juniors take over the positions of staff and make all the calls. So the group that gathered for this nine o’clock meet was huge. I’m not sure, but I heard rumors there might have been eighty people out to hunt. We had fifteen couple of Penn-Marydels and Penn-Marydel crosses under open skies, with temperatures warming to sixty-eight degrees.

Don’t get me wrong; I like a large field. I want visitors and guest alike to see what one of the best packs in Virginia can do. But at some point it can get too large! We had a first field, second field, and a beginner field for children. We also had, besides the Field Masters, field stewards in the back to help along those who might fall out, to check gates and riders, and generally to keep order at the tail of the field.