As we approach the 2016/2017 season, Foxhunting Life reports on recent huntsmen moves around the hunting countries.
Ivan Dowling has retired from hunting Mr. Stewart’s Cheshire Foxhounds (PA). After ten seasons (and before that as first whipper-in), this comes as a major change at Cheshire because the Irish-born Dowling was a key figure in implementing a bold, highly unusual, and successful hound breeding program there. With Dowling’s departure, Cheshire loses a professional whipper-in as well—Stephanie Boyer—who will wed Dowling in September.
Barry Magner is the new Cheshire huntsman. Irish-born Magner’s professional career includes whipping-in at the United Foxhounds (IRE) and a stint whipping-in in England. In the U.S., Magner whipped-in to the Howard County-Iron Bridge Hounds (MD) for a season and became huntsman there in 2007 upon Allen Forney's retirement. He came to Virginia as huntsman for the Middelburg Hunt where he remained for five years until leaving two years ago for Australia. Back in the U.S., Magner joined the Cheshire as professional whipper-in last season and was named huntsman upon Dowling’s retirement.
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.
The Junior North American Field Hunter Championship competition that began modestly twelve years ago between a handful of geographically-close Virginia hunts continues to expand in scope. This year’s competition involved juniors from twenty-seven hunts located across six MFHA Districts.
The program is succeeding because it’s purpose rises above just competition. Founders Douglas Wise, MFH, Old Dominion Hounds and Iona Pillion from the Blue Ridge Hunt had a larger dream: bring children to new hunting countries and open their eyes to the fact that these playgrounds don’t just happen to be there for them by chance, but have been nurtured and conserved for the perpetuation of wildlife, open space, and for those who treasure the natural world.
“We want these kids to know what a conservation easement is,” said Marion Chungo, one of the organizers.
Betsy and friends escape frozen Virginia for a week of hunting in warmer climes. We bring you her daily blog, exclusive to Foxhunting Life.
It poured rain last night. Woke up several times with rain pelting the tin roof of our cottage, but when I opened the door to see if we were going to float away I couldn't help notice it was weirdly warm. Like sixty degrees warm! Odd.
This morning dawned light and sunny and toasty warm. I stripped down to just my turtleneck layer for the horse trials next door.
At Full Gallop Farm, they hold training horse trials—intermediate level all the way down to beginner novice—attracting hundreds of competitors. Our Hunt Week crew is volunteering for duty to "earn" the right to school/ride/hack over their hundreds of acres of cross country jumps, show jumping fences, and dressage arenas.
Two hounds from the Live Oak kennels in Monticello, Florida, took top honors at the Virginia Foxhound Show on May 30, 2010 at Morven Park near Leesburg. English Foxhound Champion Live Oak Maximus 2009 (Live Oak Daniel 2007–Their Mistress 2006) was judged Grand Champion, and Crossbred Champion Live Oak Apache 2008 (Live Oak Mascot 2005–Their Apricot 2004) was named Reserve Grand Champion.