Photographer Gretchen Pelham was simply photographing a beautiful scene of huntsman Ryan Johnsey standing by the cornfield with the Smoky Mountains in the background. She had no idea she had caught a hunting drama!
Limestone, Tennessee, on the banks of the Nolichucky River (translation: “the River of Death”) under the shadow of the Smoky Mountains. It was the first staff hunt of the season. I had picked up a few puppies and our ancient hound Ariat hanging out at the trailers and put them in a section of corn that I knew was close to the pack, still searching for game. Both puppies came right back out of the corn but Ariat started boo-hooing on a line. The pack soon joined her and off they went.
About an hour later I was sitting on a hill on my horse, listening to the pack circle and roar by me again, and all I did was take a burst of photos of Ryan Johnsey, MFH, our huntsman, with the Smoky Mountains in the background. That’s it. I saw Ryan and the mountains through the lens. Nothing else.
Johnsey's tribute to Bagpipe was first published in the 2016 Yearbook of the Tennessee Valley Hunt. The hunt, founded in 1989, is unique in that most of the founding members had never foxhunted prior to forming the hunt. Fortunately, they found their way to Dr. Todd “Doc” Addis who, along with his wife Happy, brought his hounds to Tennessee and taught the fledgling foxhunters all about hunting. Before leaving, Doc made a gift of twenty couple of Penn-Marydels to the Tennessee Valley Hunt.
I’ve chosen Kimberton’s Bagpipe 2010 as this year’s Hound of the Year. Prior to last hunt season, Bagpipe was nothing more than your everyday, stubborn, old filler hound. Terrified of his own shadow and extremely anti-social when it came to humans, Bagpipe did everything on his own terms. By the end of the 2014/2015 season he would pack in, walk out, and was only decent in the hunt field.
In January of 2010, Tennessee Valley Hunt had a three-day joint meet with the Belle Meade Hunt down in Georgia. Belle Meade’s MFH and Huntsman, Epp Wilson, had last hunted with TVH’s MFH Grosvenor Merle-Smith when Gro was huntsman for the Bull Run Hunt in Virginia several years earlier. They had what Epp described as an “epic” hunt chasing fox. The two huntsmen had finally organized a recap of that memorable hunt, and the expectations of both men were very high for the weekend.
Twelve of us Tennesseans trekked south to Georgia just west of Augusta. Included were Grosvenor, his wife Rosie Merle-Smith, MFH, and our TVH huntsman Beth Blackwell who brought about eleven couple of Penn-Marydels.
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.
Seven-year-old Skyler Beauchene was the youngest member of the field out with the Tennessee Valley Hunt when hounds met at Riverplains, the family farm, in Strawberry Plains, Tennessee. The more senior generations of Skyler’s family in the photo are State Senator, Grandfather Frank Nicely (left) and international trainer and rider, Uncle Jose Hernandez (right).
Riverplains is one of the founding farms for the Tennessee Valley Hunt. They do organic growing, carriage driving, dressage, three-day eventing, and so much more. I also live there. Could not be anywhere else!
Skyler is mounted on his pony Cruisy; Riverplains owner Senator Frank is mounted on Farrah; and Jose is riding Roma, a carriage horse for his four-in-hand. All the horses are owned by Skyler’s mother Rachel Nicely, Frank’s daughter. Rachel also trains and has hunted since she was very little.