Fox Hunting Life with Horse and Hound

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John Pickering and the End of an Era

john pickeringJohn Pickering, one of Irish foxhunting’s witty raconteurs and colorful characters, passed away recently in his adopted town of Tuam, County Galway, Ireland. In his career he hunted the East Down Foxhounds, the Golden Vale Foxhounds, the Oriel Harriers, and was whipper-in and huntsman to the legendary Master of the Bermingham and North Galway Foxhounds, the late Lady Molly Cusack-Smith.

I first met him when he was hunting the Oriel Harriers in the 1980s. At a meet north of Dundalk, in County Louth, hounds put a fox away from  Bell’s Covert, but he only ran a couple of hundred yards before going to ground in an earth in the middle of a field. To make matters worse his best hound Heckler was down in the earth with only his stern in view. Pickering sat casually back in the saddle and remarked, “I think I will have to take that hound to a shrink.”

“Why”, I asked, to which Pickering replied, “Because he thinks he’s a bloody terrier!”

Peter Patrick, Lord Hemphill, ex-MFH

lord hemphillPeter Patrick, the Fifth Baron Hemphill, passed away on Friday, April 6, 2012 at the Galway Clinic after a short illness. He and his wife Lady Anne Hemphill are well-known to many North American sportsmen and women who have hunted with the Galway Blazers. His father, the Fourth Baron, married his mother Emily Sears in Saint Patrick's Cathedral in New York.

Lord Hemphill was an exceptional individual—charming, entertaining, and a great friend to the Galway Blazers where he served as Joint-Master in the heyday of hunting in Ireland. He made his estate, Tulira Castle, regularly available to the hunt. American film director John Huston was a fellow Joint-Master when he lived at St Clerans not far from Athenry. The two men hunted and socialised together with their respective wives, Toni and Lady Anne, the latter serving as Field Master of the Blazers for many years. They all sailed frequently in Galway Bay with many of the prominent visiting Hollywood film stars, often visiting the Aran Islands where a sing-song was always on the agenda at a local hostelry!

James L. Young, ex-MFH

jimmy young.doug leesDouglas Lees photoFoxhunting lost one of its most notable Masters of Foxhounds with the passing of James L. Young, age seventy, on Friday evening, May 25, 2012.

Urbane, articulate, literate, trim and handsome both on and off the horse, Jimmy Young did everything with a flair, whether leading his field, presiding over the Virginia Foxhound Club Show, writing or speaking on his favorite topic---foxhunting as a noble art form.

 

Des McCheane, Hunting Photographer

Des_McCheane_at_Clifden_Connemara_Pony_Show_in_2009When photo-journalist Noel Mullins attended the Clifden Pony Show in Connemara, County Galway, Ireland this summer, he immediately missed seeing  his photographer friend Des McCheane. Mullins learned sadly that Des had passed away the previous week—a loss surely for Des’s family, friends, and for Irish country sport, but a rich historical legacy left behind.

Don Little, Myopia MFH, Dead of Injuries Sustained in Show Jumping Accident

don littleMichele Doucette photoDonald V. Little, MFH of the Myopia Hunt in Hamilton, Massachusetts, died on February 29, 2012, three days after a fall from his horse while competing in the Masters Classic at the Winter Equestrian Festival in Wellington, Florida.

Don was in his seventies—an all-around sportsman with interests in foxhunting, polo, show jumping, Thoroughbred racing, and sailing. Born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, he lived most of his life on Boston’s North Shore, foxhunting and playing polo at the Myopia Hunt Club in Hamilton. He also enjoyed hunting with the Piedmont Fox Hounds in Virginia—a hunt with close family ties to Myopia.

Allen Nixon Rodday: My Teacher, My Friend

Mr._RoddayAllen Nixon “Nick” Rodday died on July 26, 2011 at his home in Brewster, Massachusetts on Cape Cod at the age of ninety. He’d retired there after giving up his horse farm, Elm Brook Farm, in Concord, Massachusetts about thirty years ago. He bought himself a lobster boat and for the next fifteen years fulfilled a longtime ambition. But he still couldn’t resist stabling horses, and before long he was once again leading rides and driving his carriage.

Nick Rodday ran a riding stable, Victory Lee and later Elm Brook Farm, through most of the latter half of the twentieth century. He gave lessons, rented hirelings, and took his clients hunting. He was a charismatic guy with a beautiful tenor singing voice to boot. He taught me to ride and took me hunting. I met my wife-to-be Joan and many others who became good friends in his riding ring. He stood up for me at our wedding. Without question, he changed my life profoundly.

Sherman P. Haight, Jr.: MFH, Statesman, Innovator

sherman inducted.crop.leesSherman Haight is inducted into the Huntsman's Room of the Museum of Hounds and Hunting in May, 2016. / Douglas Lees photo

With the passing of Sherman Haight, the foxhunting world has lost one of its longest serving gentleman-statesmen. He was ninety-three.

I use the term “gentleman” in its fullest sense, mourning both Sherman and an age that is passing with him and his few remaining contemporaries. I don’t believe I ever saw Sherman without a shirt and tie, even in his own home and even when visiting in the morning.

He was a true statesman for our sport, born of a dedicated foxhunting family. His father, his father-in-law, his brother, and he were all Masters. His mother, game for any adventure, followed hounds on both sides of the Atlantic. His record of accomplishments and innovations, many of which are taken for granted by today’s foxhunters, is lengthy.