Fox Hunting Life with Horse and Hound

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Marion Scullin: Doyenne of the Howard County–Iron Bridge Hounds

marion scullin and opal.KWW photoMarion Lee Crosson Scullin with one of her many favorite hounds, Howard County-Iron Bridge Opal.Marion Lee Crosson Scullin passed away peacefully at her Damascus, Maryland home after a brief struggle with brain cancer on March 5, 2017.

Born March 3, 1943 in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, to a family of huntsmen (father, grandfather, uncles, and cousins), Marion’s future could be said to have been predetermined. At the time she was born, Marion’s father, Albert “Pud” Crosson, was the huntsman for Rose Tree Foxhunting Club, moving to Huntingdon Valley Hounds, then Whitelands Hunt, and concluding his career with Pickering Hunt where, in 1976, he “died in the hunting field of a heart attack after his hounds completed a splendid run, marking their fox to ground.” Inducted into the Huntsman’s Room of the Museum of Hounds and Hunting, Marion’s father was known for breeding a hard-running pack of deep-throated Penn-Marydels.

Bill Backer (1926–2016): "The Real Thing"

backer at nslleessmallBill Backer, singing one of his foxhunting ditties while accompanying himself at the keyboard, at the National Sporting Library & Museum. / Douglas Lees photoWilliam M. Backer, a foxhunting man who put phrases and tunes on the lips of people in every corner of the globe, died in Warrenton, Virginia on Friday, May 13, 2016, after a short illness.

A member of the Advertising Hall of Fame, Bill Backer created iconic advertising campaigns such as the 1971 Coca Cola commercial featuring his jingle, "I'd like to Teach the World to Sing." Click for a televised clip of Bill being interviewed for and playing what is arguably the most famous commercial of all time.

Bill added “Miller Time" to the language of those who needed a substitute for “cocktail hour” and created the long-running television argument for Miller Lite: “Tastes Great; Less Filling,” one of the best-liked campaigns in the history of advertising. For Campbell Soup, he persuaded customers that "Soup is good food."

Bill was a longtime member of the Orange County Hunt (VA) and served on the Board of Stewards for fifty years, part of that time as President. At his Smitten Farm in The Plains, Virginia he bred and raised racehorses and was an active member of the Jockey Club and the Virginia Thoroughbred Association.

George “Frolic” Weymouth (1937–2016) Inspired Conservation-Minded Hunts

george frolic weymouthGeorge A. "Frolic" Weymouth, visionary conservationist, philanthropist, artist, and sportsman, died on April 24, 2016. In 1967, Weymouth and two friends purchased two parcels of land in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania totaling forty-seven acres that were threatened with industrial development. That act of preservation marked the start of the organization that was to become the Brandywine Conservancy. That conservancy, led by Weymouth, and the nearby Mr. Stewart’s Cheshire Foxhounds, led by Mrs. John B. Hannum, MFH, saved the Cheshire hunting country when the King Ranch was sold off. Their success served as a model and inspiration for other conservation-minded foxhunting clubs across North America to preserve their open space and educate their juniors.

Today, the Brandywine Conservancy is one of the leading land trusts in country, with 62,000 acres of land permanently protected in Pennsylvania and Delaware. Weymouth received the MFHA/Chronicle of the Horse Conservation Award in 2013, just one of numerous other awards received for his contributions to land preservation and the arts.

Hugh Motley, ex-MFH (1955–2016)

hugh motley2Hugh Motley, MFH with the Keswick foxhounds / Courtesy of the Motley Family

Hugh Douglas Camp Motley, ex-MFH of the Keswick Hunt (VA) and a highly-regarded horseman who started his own bloodstock agency and sold Thoroughbred horses at many of America's premier racing sales, died in Wellington, Florida on January 9, 2016 of complications from pneumonia. He was sixty.

Hugh foxhunted all his life and served as Master of Foxhounds for the Keswick Hunt (VA) from 2000 to 2005. He also played polo for many years as a member of the Charlottesville Polo Club.

Jake Carle, longtime Master and huntsman at Keswick, remembers Hugh from the time he was hunting ponies. “He was game as hell," Jake recalls. "He would go anywhere on his pony."

“We bonded instantly because we both stuttered as kids, so I understood. Later, he whipped-in to me. When it was time to name a new Joint-Master, he was the only person I trusted to maintain the standards. And he did.

"He hired [huntsman] Tony Gammell, and they had a bond. He had the most wonderful sense of humor, and we all will miss him terribly. He’s one of only a few people I know who was liked by everyone who met him.

Sally Tufts, ex-MFH (1924–2016)

sally tufts1Douglas Lees photo

Sally Spilman Tufts passed away peacefully on January 1st, 2016 at age ninety-one. A passionate horsewoman and lifelong foxhunter, she was Joint-MFH of the Warrenton Hunt (VA) for twenty-two years.

How many times have I recalled the first time we met? It was the moment when I, a Northerner, learned the definition of a Southern Lady—a woman who could say the hard thing and make it taste like honey.

About thirty-five years ago, before I had even moved to Virginia, a friend from Massachusetts and I went for a day’s hunting with Warrenton. For whatever reason, my friend’s horse decided to stop at virtually every fence. We were proving to be the cappers from hell. I was embarrassed, but the word, embarrassment, had never been a part of my friend’s lexicon. He just kept trying. At one fence, after several fruitless attempts, a hospitable Warrenton rider offered to get on the horse and jump him over so we could catch up to the field. Even he was unsuccessful, so he and another gracious rider took us through a gate—the nadir of the day’s experiences. Thankfully, the endless day finally ended, and, back at the trailers, Master Sally Tufts came up to us.

Tommy Jackson, ex-MFH and Huntsman (1945–2015)

tommy jacksonThomas H. Jackson, huntsman for twenty-five years at the Mission Valley Hunt (KS) and huntsman and Joint-Master of the Coal Valley Hounds (KS), passed away on Wednesday, October 21, 2015 at age seventy. Tommy enjoyed a stellar reputation in the hunting world. I can honestly say that I never saw any huntsman more passionate about seeing the job done right.

Born in Bellevue, Pennsylvania on June 19, 1945, to Joseph Henry and Mary Agnes (McAuliffe) Jackson, he went to work at a very young age due to family financial struggles. He loved the outdoors and farm life. One of his first jobs was at a dairy farm in the Sewickley area.

Tommy was drafted into the Army on October 20, 1965 and received an Honorable Discharge two years later. He served one tour in Vietnam with notable honors: National Defense Service Medal, Vietnam Service Medal with two Bronze Stars, Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal, and Marksman Rifle Award.

After returning from Vietnam, Tommy went to work as a stable groom at the Allegheny Country Club. He grew fond of horses and horseback riding, and this job launched him on his life-long career. Through the club's affiliation with the Sewickley Hunt, he worked his way up to the position of Professional Huntsman. Foxhunting was not just a job or a hobby for Tommy; it was his passion.

Joan Batterton (1917–2015)

joan batterton.beacon rock.1986Field Master Joan Batterton, Opening Meet, 1986, on her homebred North American Field Champion Beacon RockJoan Batterton, one of the finest Field Masters I have ever followed across a hunting country, died on Monday, August 31, 2015 at the age of ninety-eight. She was born in Auckland, New Zealand in 1917 and died at her home in Berryville, Virginia.

A diminutive but magnificent horsewoman, she led the field for the Blue Ridge Hunt (VA) for fifteen years, while in her sixties and seventies, on a succession of bold, grand jumping horses, some off the timber racecourses. She knew her country, knew how the foxes ran, and what I remember best is how she led her field at a steady hand-gallop, at an even pace, whether over fences or in the open, keeping us in touch with hounds in a lovely and seductive rhythm.

She never raised her voice, but spoke in her soft New Zealand accent, always with a touch of a smile, an inquiring arch of her eyebrows, maintaining an eye contact as expressive as her words. She didn’t suffer fools, however, and could flay them with a quiet single-sentence opinion.