Fox Hunting Life with Horse and Hound

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virginia 2017Orange County Kermit 2015, shown by huntsman Reg Spreadborough, is Grand Champion at Virginia Foxhound Show.  /  Liz Callar photo

The Grand Championship class for the coveted William W. Brainard, Jr. Perpetual Cup at the Virginia Foxhound Show finally got underway at around six p.m. It’s always an exciting class, despite the late hour on a day, May 28, 2017, that started at 9:00 a.m. for five hundred hounds and participants representing seventy hunts. Thunderstorms had struck towns all over Virginia from noontime on, but hardly a raindrop fell in Leesburg.

Four magnificent foxhounds walked out with their handlers: English, American, Crossbred, and Penn-Marydel Champions. Now they would vie for the Grand Championship of Show. Each of the four, after vanquishing all other hounds through the long day of winnowing, were obviously superb representatives of their respective breeds. In this observers view, absent any serious and previously undetected flaws in conformation, it would be a test of movement—that free-flowing, ground-covering, shock-absorbing, athletic, and energetic stride that tells the judge, “I can keep doing this day after day, year after year.”

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The late Melvin Poe remains a legendary American huntsman, and undoubtedly will for all time. From his earliest days, Melvin absorbed the ways of the forest and the habits of every wild creature.

From a new book, Foxhunters Speak (The Derrydale Press, 2017), here is one of fifty interviews conducted by an accomplished author highly experienced in the art of the interview. Mary Kalergis has traveled the country to learn how foxhunters acquired their passion. For books inscribed by the author, purchase directly.

GTPics 27Mary Kalergis photo

I was born in 1920, five miles down the road from where I live now in Hume, Virginia. There were ten of us in the family—five girls and five boys. My dad worked for a dollar a day. He had hounds when I was a little boy, and as soon as I got big enough to hunt, that was all I wanted to do. I loved to hunt skunks and possum at night when I was a schoolboy. We had no coons in those days. No beavers either. Those skins would have been worth a lot more than skunk or possum.

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peter walsh gold cup.lees.smallPeter Walsh (number 7) in the Swan Lakes Stakes, 1993 Virginia Gold Cup Races. Lonesome Glory (white blaze, Blythe Miller up) went on to win the race and capture his second Eclipse award that year.  /   Douglas Lees photo

In 2014, Peter Walsh, ex-steeplechase jock, served as Field Master and hunted with both the Piedmont Fox Hounds and the Orange County Hounds, neighboring packs in Virginia. He was hunting five days a week and working as Farm Manager for Milton Sender, a field member of both packs. In the off-season, he played golf avidly.

Today, Peter Walsh is still hunting with both packs, still managing the farm, and still playing golf avidly. It would almost seem as if nothing had changed...except that between then and now, Peter lost his right arm.

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Here’s our 2017 Foxhunting Life Calendar, ready to ship on September 1 and featuring all new photos. We’ve been publishing our appointments calendar since 1998, and our annual collection of foxhunting images continues to represent the finest examples of the sporting photographer’s art.

Douglas Lees shot the cover photograph of huntsman Reg Spreadborough flying a coop alongside his red ring-necked Orange County hounds—a fleeting glimpse of huntsman, horse, and hounds in motion for one single instant...gone the next.

Represented in this year’s photo collection are hunts in California, England, Georgia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and Virginia. Images include horses and hounds in action, seductive scenes shot in the most beautiful hunting landscapes imaginable, and photographs that simply tell a story about foxhunting.

As before, photos of the hound show grand champions that you read about in Foxhunting Life throughout the past hound show season are to be found inside the back cover.

Foxhunting Life Calendars will keep track of your busy schedule while they brighten up your tack room and kitchen. And they make great gifts for your cocktail party hosts and for landowners in your hunting country.

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spencer allen crop smallHuntsman Spencer Allen / Douglas Lees photo

Huntsman Spencer Allen has gone through a rocky time in the past couple of years. He’s been forced to consider other options for his future, but he knows in his heart what he loves the most—working with and hunting foxhounds. And this is why he’s so happy to be in Monticello, Florida at Marty and Daphne Wood’s unparalleled establishment as huntsman for the Live Oak Hounds.

After serving six years in the Marine Corps, including a tour in Iraq, Allen began as an amateur whipper-in at the Bull Run Hunt (VA). Two seasons later he turned professional and moved to the Piedmont Fox Hounds (VA), serving four seasons as first whipper-in to huntsman Richard Roberts. Allen found himself working with a talented and attractive whipper-in, Rachel Gray, who also happened to be the daughter of the previous huntsman, Butch Gray. Spencer and Rachel were married, and in 2010 Spencer was named huntsman at Piedmont. He hunted the Piedmont hounds for five seasons, showing excellent sport, but trouble followed.

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