Kathleen O’Keefe has been named Joint-Master of the Casanova Hunt. Many feel her appointment to be a natural progression for this accomplished horsewoman. O’Keefe takes the reins of one of Virginia’s oldest foxhunting clubs, expanding a lifelong love affair with horse and field sports.
O’Keefe, fifty-four and a native of Stephens City, Virginia, started riding when she was six months old in a wicker basket saddle, she says. A fourth-generation foxhunter, her late father, grandparents and great-grandfather were riders, and she grew up foxhunting with her grandmother at the Blue Ridge Hunt in Clarke County, Virginia. “I am especially proud of my father, Peter Drinkwater,” O’Keefe says, noting he won the Virginia Field Hunter Championship twice, a feat O’Keefe repeated in 2000 with her Thoroughbred field hunter Lord Hugh.
Randolph D. “Randy” Rouse—Master of Foxhounds, retired champion race rider, Thoroughbred trainer, musician, and national steeplechase icon, died early Friday, April 7, 2017 at age one-hundred.
He was the oldest trainer in North American Thoroughbred history to saddle a winner, ever. He was ninety-nine last April when his Hishi Soar won the Daniel Van Clief Memorial at Foxfield Spring Races. This season, at age one hundred, just one week before his death, he sent Hishi Soar to the starting line again and won the Open Hurdle Race at the Orange County Point-to-Point in Virginia.
From London's streets to Virginia’s hunt country
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.
Peter Hitchen, MFH, died January 12, 2015 from complications stemming from injuries sustained in a fall in the hunting field a month earlier. He was seventy-six. At the time of his passing, Peter was serving in his twenty-seventh season as Joint-Master of the Potomac Hunt (MD).
Peter was born in England but didn’t start foxhunting until he emigrated to the U.S. in 1962. After settling in the Washington, D.C. area, Peter was introduced to the sport by a friend. He also met his bride-to-be, Nancy Tilton Orme of Leesburg, Virginia, who also encouraged his involvement with hunting to hounds at The Loudoun Hunt.
From that time on, Peter never let anything interfere with his maturing love of and passion for foxhunting. After many seasons of whipping-in at the New Market/Middletown Valley Hounds (MD) and later at The Potomac Hunt, Peter joined Irvin L. (Skip) Crawford as Joint-Master of Potomac in 1987. With huntsman, Larry Pitts, they oversaw the development of what is unquestionably one of the premier packs of American foxhounds in the United States, giving good sport to their members and garnering championships and grand championships at the hound shows year after year.
Huntsman Robert Taylor hasn’t had a good rest in five years. He’s been hunting two separate packs of foxhounds in Maryland—the Goshen Hounds as Master and amateur huntsman and the New Market-Middletown Valley Hounds as professional huntsman. Huntsman Ken George has been driving hounds and horses six hours each way twice a week from Kansas to Iowa to hunt hounds in both states. Huntsmen love what they do, but each season ends with changes in the wind.
As this hunting season draws to a close, we see huntsmen on the move again. Starting in the north and progressing southward then west, here’s what we know so far; please let us know who we’ve left out.