Fox Hunting Life with Horse and Hound

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ceremonies2.croppedArapahoe Joint-Master Mary Ewing introduces Marvin Beeman. /  Douglas Lees photo

A countryman from Virginia, a veterinarian from Colorado, and a businessman from north Florida were honored by an appreciative crowd of well-wishers on the occasion of their induction into the Huntsmen’s Room of the Museum of Hounds and Hunting. Ceremonies were conducted at Morven Park, Leesburg, Virginia on Saturday, May 27, 2017. This was the evening before the Virginia Foxhound Show over the Memorial Day Weekend.

James Lee Atkins, Dr. G. Marvin Beeman, MFH, and C. Martin Wood III, MFH were selected by a committee of their peers for having carried the hunting horn with honor, courage, and distinction in hunting fields across North America in their lifetimes. The three men join a select club of just forty-one pre-eminent huntsmen so honored. The last inductions were made two years ago.

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ceremonies2.croppedArapahoe Joint-Master Mary Ewing introduces Marvin Beeman. /  Douglas Lees photo

A countryman from Virginia, a veterinarian from Colorado, and a businessman from north Florida were honored by an appreciative crowd of well-wishers on the occasion of their induction into the Huntsmen’s Room of the Museum of Hounds and Hunting. Ceremonies were conducted at Morven Park, Leesburg, Virginia on Saturday, May 27, 2017. This was the evening before the Virginia Foxhound Show over the Memorial Day Weekend.

tljones.2017Tommy Lee Jones talks about his friend, the late Jim Atkins, / Douglas Lees photo

James Lee Atkins, Dr. G. Marvin Beeman, MFH, and C. Martin Wood III, MFH were selected by a committee of their peers for having carried the hunting horn with honor, courage, and distinction in hunting fields across North America in their lifetimes. The three men join a select club of just forty-one pre-eminent huntsmen so honored. The last inductions were made two years ago.

 

 

 

 

ky.croppedMrs. James "KT" Atkins accepts the honor for her husband. / Douglas Lees photoJames Lee Atkins (1941–2013)
Jim Atkin’s career as a professional huntsman spanned the twenty-eight-year period from 1977 to 2005. He hunted hounds for the Old Dominion Hounds, Piedmont Fox Hounds, and the Warrenton Hunt, all in Virginia. His earliest experience hunting with hounds was following his father’s coonhounds at night, as did so many of those country boys who grew up during that period to become natural huntsmen. He proved to be a natural rider as well, breaking young horses, hunting them at Rappahannock, and riding them in the many local shows. Jim often competed against his friend Tommy Lee Jones, longtime professional huntsman for the Casanova Hunt, who was following a similar path.

When Jim Atkins retired from hunting hounds, he was, according to Master of Ceremonies Jake Carle, ex-MFH, the best huntsman in Virginia. In his remarks, Jake also noted Jim’s generosity in helping out young huntsmen with sound advice.

Tommy Lee Jones also spoke about his friend Jim, their horse showing experiences, and praised Jim’s quiet way with hounds. Jim also cared about giving the field a good time. Tommy Lee recalled how Jim would look back during a run to make certain the field was up with hounds and enjoying themselves.

Warrenton’s beloved ex-Master Will Allison took the microphone to recall the Atkins team—Jim and his wife Katharine (KT) Atkins. KT whipped-in to Jim, schooled hunters for the Masters and hunt members. “They were the hardest working couple,” said Allison, “and they made it all so easy for the Masters.” KT still whips-in at Warrenton and schools horses.

marvin beeman.croppedMarvin Beeman: "The hounds are at the hub of the wheel." / Douglas Lees photoDr. G. Marvin Beeman, MFH (b. 1933)
At age eighty-four, there can’t be many huntsmen other than Marvin Beeman who are still actively hunting hounds. Certainly not chasing coyotes across the open plains. His Joint-Master Mary Ewing, in her remarks, attested that Marvin still rides his Thoroughbreds at top speed to keep up with hounds. She reminded her listeners that his is a hunting country where, as far as one can see, there are no coverts and scarcely a tree to be found. And the wind blows unimpeded. On one frigid hunting day recently, she reported that Marvin mused out loud, “I wonder what the scenting will be for hounds at minus twenty degrees today?”

Hunting has been a way of life for Marvin since he began riding at the age of four. At age nine his job was gate-boy, and at the age of ten he donned a scarlet coat and began whipping-in to his father, huntsman of the Arapahoe hounds before him. He served as whipper-in for the next forty-two years, when, in 1986, father and son reversed roles. From that time to now, another thirty-one years, Marvin has hunted the Arapahoe hounds. He’s also served as a Master of the Arapahoe Hunt (CO) for twenty-seven seasons.

The man and his hunt are unique in many ways. How many hunts have relied on just two huntsmen for more than three-quarters of a century? Nor can any other hunt in North America boast both father and son inducted into the Huntsmen’s Room. And it’s not as if Marvin’s hunting accomplishments are his only claim to fame, though his mother may have played the dominant role in the intellectual aspect of his life.

Marvin, who attended a one-room schoolhouse combining children of many grades in that room, was often absent from school, whipping-in to his father. His mother, fed up with the frequent absences, dressed his father down one day. “If you want your son to grow up a dummy, just keep on doing what you’re doing,” she told him furiously. Fortunately, that didn’t happen.

Marvin went on to college and married Eunie. During one period of his life, Marvin, Eunie, and their two children all whipped-in to his father.

Marvin also graduated veterinary school, started a practice, and became renowned for his understanding of conformation as it relates to equine lameness. He has served as president of the American Association of Equine Practitioners, the Colorado Veterinary Medical Association, and the MFHA. He has been a member of the Colorado State Board of Medical Examiners, served on the USDA Agricultural Equine Advisory Committee, and served two terms on the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture’s Advisory Committee.

In addition to the Huntsmen’s Room at the Museum of Hounds and Hunting, Marvin has been honored by other institutions with inductions into the American Quarter Horse Association Hall of Fame and the Colorado Agricultural Hall of Fame.

wood and reynolds.2017Marty Wood is welcomed to the podium by his Joint-Master, Dr. John Reynolds. Recalling his first foxhunt, Marty said, "It was pouring down rain. Hounds were taking shelter under the coops. But I knew it was something I wanted to do for the rest of my life."  /  Douglas Lees photo

C. Martin Wood III, MFH (b. 1943)
North American foxhunting was influenced enormously as the result of Marty Wood’s appearance on the scene. In 1974, he and his wife Daphne established the Live Oak Hounds, and it’s been a true partnership ever since. Their hunt quickly became a model for hunting establishments in both the physical plant and the methods employed in breeding, training, and exercising foxhounds.

Marty combined his innate gifts—intelligence, competitive drive, and a critical eye for balance and structure—with financial resources in producing a pack of hounds bred to conformation standards that could not only dominate the show ring, but at the same time find and run down their game in the hunting field. In the development of his breeding acumen, he had American Ben Hardaway and Englishman Ronnie Wallace as mentors. Marty learned well, and has forever and freely passed on his knowledge and his hounds’ bloodlines to grateful hunts across the U.S., Canada, and England.

Carle.2017Master of Ceremonies Jake Carle. /  Douglas Lees photoHe has given personal time and treasure to virtually every aspect of our hunting world, from encouraging the participation of juniors in the hunting field to the conservation and preservation of open space. He has supported my own hair-brained schemes from my first notion of Covertside to my current adventure on the web with Foxhunting Life. Marty Wood has always been willing to listen and try something different.

An avid big-game hunter, Marty’s own bloodlines are replete with the genes of adventure. His father, a U.S. Army Lt. Colonel, served with the OSS during World War II, while his mother, twice a Mardis Gras Queen, piloted civil air patrol planes off the coast of Louisiana, searching for German submarines.

With the intensity that Marty brought to the hunting of his pack came, naturally, moments of injury and pain, the occasional lost temper, and even flashes of levity. Introducing Marty during the ceremonies, Joint-Master Dr. John Reynolds recalled an etiquette lessons he learned in Marty’s hunting field on his first or second hunt with the pack. On the occasion, John was fumbling to open a gate for Marty and hounds during a good run. On his feet, crowded by both his horse and the anxious hounds, John was mumbling to get his horse out of the way. Marty, impatient to get through, thought that John was speaking to his hounds. “You can talk to my wife,” Marty roared in the heat of the moment, “but do not speak to my hounds!”

The Live Oak foxhounds hunt the fox, coyote, and bobcat in a sandy, well-drained country. One measure of this great pack is when they score a hat trick and account for one of each species in a single day. It happens! And not all that infrequently, either.

Atkins, Beeman, and Wood, worlds apart in their geography, upbringing, and life history, share one thing in common. Playing the unique hand that life dealt them, each became superb huntsmen. And the benefits of their accomplishments spread beyond the borders of their individual hunting countries, improving and strengthening foxhunting in North America.

Click to see a list of all the huntsmen inducted into the Huntsmen's Room to date.

Posted June 15, 2017

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jefferson "Tot" Goodwin whipped-in to Ben Hardaway for over twenty years, then in 1989 became huntsman of the Green Creek Hounds (SC). He’s the only black MFH in America. From a new book, Foxhunters Speak (The Derrydale Press, 2017), here is one of fifty interviews conducted by the author, Mary Kalergis.

Mary will be signing her books at the Virginia Foxhound Show in the Foxhunting Life booth. Come visit!

tot goodwin.kalergis.crop

My granddaddy and dad always hunted dogs, and I started hunting the beagles every weekend when I was about eight years old. Now my granddaddy was a horseman. He used to break and train horses right outside of Columbus, Georgia. He died before I was old enough to really ride, so as a kid, I never had the opportunity to ride any nice horses. My parents had mules that plowed the farm. As a little boy, I never heard of mounted foxhunting. We hunted coons, rabbit, and deer on foot and ate everything we caught. There were sixteen kids in my family, so we never wasted any food.

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orangecountyptp.hishi soar.leesHishi Soar, owned and trained by Randy Rouse wins the Locust Hill Open Hurdle Race with Gerard Galligan in the irons. / Douglas Lees photo

In May, last year, at age ninety-nine, Randy Rouse, MFH of the Loudoun Fairfax Hunt (VA), saddled his Hishi Soar, put Gerard Galligan up, and won the featured race at Foxfield in Charlottesville—the sanctioned $25,000 Daniel Van Clief Memorial optional allowance hurdle. That feat made Rouse the oldest American ever to train a Thoroughbred winner.

Last Saturday, April 2, 2017, Rouse, brought Hishi Soar to the Orange County Point-to-Point Races at Locust Hill Farm, put Galligan up again, and won the Open Hurdle Race in a five-horse field. That feat, by our reckoning, makes Mr. Rouse the first one-hundred-year-old American ever to train a Thoroughbred winner.

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Featuring the Photos of Douglas Lees

piedmontptp17.murphy.leesJeff Murphy on Secret Soul. "If at first...try, try, again."  / Douglas Lees photo

Race-goers at Piedmont enjoyed a warm, sunny day at the Salem Racecourse in Upperville, Virginia on Saturday, March 25, 2017. Entries were strong for the seven-race card consisting of four timber races and two flat races. So much so that one timber race and two flat races were split into two divisions each.

Jeff Murphy scored a hat trick in the first race, Maiden Timber, winning as rider, owner, and trainer. His horse, Secret Soul, delighted his syndicate, but it was a multi-stage struggle to get to the winner’s circle. Secret Soul opened a comfortable lead on the eight-horse field, but lost a lot of ground midway through as the result of a loose horse. Secret Soul got his rhythm back and regained the lead, but turning for home he was passed by Going For It and Hill Tie. Both those horses went off course by jumping the fence at the finish line and were disqualified. So it was Secret Soul, saved again!

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As we approach the 2017/2018 season, Foxhunting Life makes its annual report on the recent moves of eight huntsmen across the North American hunting countries.

hughjulierobards.cropped.cancelliRetiring huntsman Hugh Robards, wife and first whipper-in Julie, and the foxhounds of the Middleburg Hunt / Chris Cancelli photo

Round I:
Hugh Robards’ decision to hang up his hunting horn after fifty-five seasons in hunt service got Round One underway. Fully half of those seasons, and certainly the most visible, Robards spent in Ireland’s challenging ditch-and-bank country as huntsman for the County Limerick Foxhounds. There, he provided world-class sport for Master Lord Daresbury (whom he succeeded as huntsman), the hard riding members, and a constant stream of hunting visitors from around the globe.

For the last three seasons, Robards has carried the horn for the Middleburg Hunt (VA). As difficult as his personal retirement decision must have been, the Middleburg Masters and members paid Robards such a stirring tribute at their Hunt Ball that he had to have felt the sincere respect and affection in which he was held, notwithstanding his short tenure there. The members made certain that the ball revolved about him with mounted photographs of his career, the showing of a specially produced video, and speeches—sincere and well-earned, to recognize an illustrious career.

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