Fox Hunting Life with Horse and Hound

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Marlborough Hunt

marlborough

Upper Marlboro, Prince George's County, Maryland.

Website: www.marlboroughhuntclub.com


As the new season gets underway, Foxhunting Life updates its March 31 report on the recent moves of huntsmen across North America.

ashley hubbard.will hunt fox hounds at green spring valleyHuntsman Ashley Hubbard leads the Green Spring Valley hounds on summer exercise. / Tammie Monaco photo

Round I
Ashley Hubbard is the new huntsman for the Green Spring Valley Hounds (MD). Hubbard has served as kennel huntsman for the Fox River Valley Hunt (IL) for nearly ten years, assisting Tony Leahy, MFH, and carrying the horn when necessary.

“Tony didn’t want to lose him,” explained Duck Martin, MFH at Green Spring Valley, “but he thought this would be a good opportunity for Ashley.”

Since the end of World War II, Green Spring Valley has had just four huntsmen: Leslie Grimes, Andrew Barclay, John Tabachka, and Sam Clifton. Both Grimes and Barclay have been enshrined in the Huntsmen’s Room at the Museum of Hounds and Hunting.

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wws heythrop r achelWhy Worry Hounds' Heythrop Rachel 2011 is Grand Champion of the 2016 Carolinas Hound Show.

Why Worry’s Heythrop Rachel 2011 was judged Grand Champion at the fortieth annual Carolinas Hound Show held at the Springdale Racecourse in Camden, South Carolina on May 7, 2016. It’s one thing for a visiting MFH to pick up a nice draft to bring back to the home kennels; it’s another thing entirely to know what to do with it. Here’s where George and Jeannie Thomas, MFHs, Why Worry Hounds (SC), showed their breeding acumen.

While visiting friends in England and judging a puppy show at the Heythrop kennels, George mentioned that he needed a bi*ch* to introduce new bloodlines into his breeding program. We have just the hound for you, he was told. So he brought home a nicely-bred entered bi*ch, Heythrop Rachel 2011.

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mfc.americanChampion American Foxhound: Orange County Kermit with huntsman Reg Spreadborough / Karen Kandra Wenzel photoFor forty consecutive years, foxhunters from the Mid-Atlantic have gathered on the day following the Kentucky Derby to give their unentered hounds an opportunity to learn what this “hound show thing” is all about. As a prelude to the major shows—Virginia and Bryn Mawr—later in the spring, this show is a bit lower key, but still a serious undertaking. Restricted to unentered hounds except for classes for Produce of Dam and Get of Sire, the emphasis is on teaching young hounds and young handlers what they can expect in a few weeks.

The show is held on a rotating basis among the MFHA-sanctioned hunts in Maryland, and this year the Marlborough Hunt in Prince Georges County served as host. On the banks of the Patuxent River on their lovely grounds for both clubhouse and kennels, the Marlborough folks, under the leadership of Masters Katherine Cawood, Patty Sasscer, and Christine Claggett, provided two spacious rings—one for foxhounds where Thomas H. Jackson, MFH, Mr. Jackson’s Flat Creek Hounds and former huntsman of the Mission Valley Hunt Club (KS) would judge the 101 foxhounds entered, and one for foothounds where Forbes R. Reback, MB and Charlotte D. Buttrick, MB, both from the Farmington Beagles (VA), would judge bassets and beagles.

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cowboy hunt1Kail Mantle from Montana: just like riding a bronc  /  Val Westover photo

Last year, while hunting with the Red Rock Hounds (NV), I met Renee and Kail Mantle from Big Sky Hounds in Three Forks, Montana. Kail gave us a bucking horse lesson one day before hunting. This Montana cowboy, who hunts in chaps and cowboy hat, had sat calmly to his horse bucking crazily above the sagebrush and had seriously impressed me.

When a group of these Western foxhunters invited me to accompany them to Ireland this year, I jumped at the chance. These were fun people---more than a little crazy, and I wondered if anyone had warned the Irish!

I also wondered if my companions knew what they were getting into. I had hunted the big Irish walls and hedges in 2000, and I came home with newfound respect for anyone who hunts regularly in Ireland. It is challenging country, and their version of foxhunting is an excuse to run and jump really big fences.

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mongol derby.startDay-One, Time-Zero, The Start! Foxhunters, race riders, and racehorse trainers were the frontrunners by Day-Three.  /  Richard Dunwoody photo

I am bent over at the waist, hands on knees, gulping air as the vet checks my pony. His heart rate is seventy-two and will come down to the required sixty-four in about five minutes. Mine is about two hundred beats per minute and no one cares. I used to watch my basketball player son stand like this during timeouts, trying to recover, and now I completely understand. I am exhausted and have only twenty minutes to recover before leaving on the next jet-fueled pony! This is Day-Six of the Mongol Derby and the urtuus (horse stations) are starting to blend into one.

I imagined myself romantically naming each pony and remembering everything about the rides between stations. As it happened, I not only forgot to name them—as half the time I was hanging on for dear life as they rocketed out of the stations and bolted for the next ten to fifteen kilometers—but I do not remember individual urtuus. I remember moments of complete panic as I thought I was going to die, or moments when I feared my comrades-in-saddle were going to die. Interspersed are memories of lovely meadows and fragrant pine forests, incredible views across mountains, and long, long rides when we wondered if we would ever get there.

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