Fox Hunting Life with Horse and Hound

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Meeting Martha, Part I: How I Got Invited to Foxhunt With British Royalty

leslie wylie.lady martha sitwell.equuspix"Who was this woman...who could manage such a cool, yet hot-blooded stare?" / Photo by EquusPix PhotographyIt all started a couple months ago when a friend posited the classic ice-breaker question, “If you could have lunch with anyone in the world, who would it be?”

Bypassing all sensible responses—the President, the Pope, Peyton Manning—I skipped straight to a personage whom I knew virtually nothing about: The Lady Martha Sitwell.

Ever since we ran this photograph of Martha in a 2013 Horse Nation story about sidesaddle foxhunting (“The Craic Heard Round the World“), I’ve been transfixed. Who was this woman who, despite being mud-splattered, mascara-smeared, and soaked to the bone by icy Irish rain, could manage such a simultaneously cool yet hot-blooded stare?

Everyone Knows Bundles Murdock, But She Knows Everyone Else!

bundles murdock.leesCatherine “Bundles” Murdock is the lady to seek out when paying your cap at Orange County. Be sure to observe proper protocol by enclosing your check in an envelope with your name and address. Ms. Murdock is one field secretary who knows her protocol! / Douglas Lees photoIn a recent article in the Loudoun Times-Mirror, Billie Van Pay wrote, “Almost everyone in horse country knows Catherine ‘Bundles’ C. Murdock, a fourth-generation member of a family well-known for its community leadership and for helping make the area known for its foxhunting.”

Indeed, Murdock is a long-time member of the Middleburg, Virginia community and the Orange County Hounds, serving as honorary secretary, field secretary, and road whip. And “almost everyone in horse country” does know her. But Murdock knows everyone else. Like Barbara and George Bush, Mikhail Gorbachev, and Queen Elizabeth to name a few.

Murdock was born in New York, but Middleburg has always been home. Her grandfather William Philander “Pappy” Hulbert came to Middleburg more than one hundred years ago, and her mother grew up on the family farm, Stonehedge, before her.

Foxhunter Seeks Seat in U.S. House of Representatives

joe whited.Michelle OHanlon ArnoldJoe Whited (right) and the author in the Old Dominion field  /   Michelle OHanlon Arnold photo

A foxhunter and conservationist with an impressive background in foreign affairs is seeking the Republican nomination for Virginia's Fifth Congressional District seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Joe Whited, thirty-six, has mounted a campaign for the Republican nomination, one of four vying for the seat being vacated by Representative Robert Hurt (R). Whited wears the colors of the Old Dominion Hounds (VA) and helps run the club's annual point-to-point. His first race, however, will be purely political—the Republican primary in April.

Virginia’s Fifth District is the Commonwealth’s largest. The pie-shaped wedge includes much of Virginia hunt country, including territory of Piedmont, Orange County, Warrenton, Casanova, Old Dominion, Rappahannock, Thornton Hill-Fort Valley, Bull Run, Keswick, Farmington, Deep Run, Oak Ridge, Stonewall, Bedford, and Red Oak in Virginia, just north of Sedgefield and Red Mountain in North Carolina.

Shelby Bonnie and Foxhunting Are Tightly Connected

zimmerman.bonnie.ryan.piedmontPiedmont Masters Shelby Bonnie (center), Tad Zimmerman (left), and Gregg Ryan (right ) /  Douglas Lees photo

Shelby Bonnie has ridden to hounds most of his life, especially with the Piedmont Fox Hounds (VA), known worldwide for fast runs and plentiful jumping. The pace is swift and the fences are stout.

Bonnie divides his time between his home in San Francisco, California and his Oakley Farm in Upperville, Virginia, home of the Upperville Horse Show grounds and the Piedmont Point-to-Point Races. Bonnie spent quality time during his formative years at Oakley in the company of his grandmother, Theodora A. Randolph, legendary Piedmont Master. Even after Mrs. Randolph stopped riding, she continued to run the farm and the hunt until her passing in 1996 at the age of ninety.