Fox Hunting Life with Horse and Hound

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Tommy Hitchcock, Jr: Sportsman, War Hero

tommy hitchcock.polo2May 8, 2015 will mark the seventieth anniversary of V-E Day, Victory in Europe, the end of the Nazi menace. It’s a propitious time to remember a foxhunting sportsman named Tommy Hitchcock, Jr.

Most Foxhunting Life readers are familiar with his name. Born in Aiken, South Carolina, Hitchcock was an all-around sportsman, a foxhunter, and perhaps the greatest American polo player of all time. A ten-goal player by age twenty-two, Hitchcock led the U.S. team to their first victory in the 1921 International Polo Cup. He followed that feat by leading four teams to U.S. National Open Championships. In 1939, after the death of his mother, Louise Eustis Hitchcock, MFH of the Aiken Hounds, Tommy and his sister Helen founded what is know today as the Hitchcock Woods Foundation in Aiken—a magnificent gift to subsequent generations of horsemen and women from all across North America.

Perhaps less known, however, is the singular role that Hitchcock played in the winning of World War II. If not for Hitchcock, the date June 6, 1944 would most likely not be known to history as D-Day. The invasion of the European mainland would have necessarily been postponed. And if it hadn’t, thousands more Allied soldiers would have been slaughtered on the beaches by the German Air Force.

Mark McManus: Huntsman and Mentor

mark mcmanusMark McManus is the new huntsman at the Chagrin Valley Hunt (OH).

When a huntsman retires after a long and successful career hunting hounds for a respected hunting establishment, that vacuum creates a ripple effect throughout the hunting community. So it was when Larry Pitts retired after thirty-five seasons hunting hounds at the Potomac Hunt (MD). Pitts’s vacancy was filled by huntsman Brian Kiely from the Myopia Hunt (MA); the void at Myopia was filled by huntsman Philip Headdon from the Chagrin Valley Hunt (OH); and the Chagrin Valley opening will be filled this season by huntsman Mark McManus from the Ottawa Valley Hunt (ON).

During his time at Ottawa Valley, McManus definitely left his mark (pun intended). OVH Master Anne McKibbin lets sixteen-year-old whipper-in Carmen Powell-Sadik tell us how.

Mark is an enjoyable person to be around, with many a good story to tell depicting various scenes of humor and horror taken from an exciting and sometimes perilous life of foxhunting in his native Ireland. He remembers times of his childhood riding with his baby brother “sat in me lap” as he (much to his father’s chagrin) jumped the hedges!

Codie Hayes and Her Hounds: A Love Story

codie hayes and needy.gianniniAt age 12, Codie Hayes showed Rose Tree Needy to the Grand Championship at the 2004 Virginia Foxhound Show, the first time ever for a Penn-Marydel. / Lauren Giannini photoFrom the moment Codie Jane Hayes became aware of the world around her, she took to hounds. She progressed from crawling to toddling among the pack of Penn-Marydel foxhounds bred and hunted by her grandfather Jody Murtagh, Jr., ex-MFH. She was a wunderkind, totally at home with hounds and crazy about them. From the way hounds take to her, she was born with a gift—that coveted invisible thread connecting her to hounds wherever she goes.  

In August 2014, Codie, twenty-two, became the professional huntsman for the Golden’s Bridge Hounds in North Salem, New York. This position at any hunt entails huge responsibilities, but after a glimpse into how she spent her childhood and teen years, there’s no doubt that she has been training to be huntsman since she came into the world.

In the Footsteps of a Huntsman

From London's streets to Virginia’s hunt country

bozdan and hounds.cropped.laura rileyHuntsman Andy Bozdan and the Loudoun Fairfax hounds / Laura Riley photo

The job: huntsman. The man: Andrew Bozdan—leader of fifty couple of Old English foxhounds. One hundred canines. How is this possible? In all my life as a dog owner, I’ve only had a handful who actually came when I called. How is it that we mortals have such difficulty in getting our dogs to sit and come and not potty in the house, while this man steers his entire pack in an apparently seamless manner.

The answer is, as always, nothing is ever as easy as it looks. Before the man appears in public, seated atop his skewbald gelding, wearing his scarlet coat, and blowing his copper horn to speak to the mass of hounds seething below, one heck of a lot of work happens and many miles are traveled.