Page 1

THE ART OF THE HUNT • SEDGEFIELD RECAP • FROM RANCH TO FOXHUNT

THE MAGAZINE OF MOUNTED FOXHUNTING

SUMMER 2016 • $5.00


s J o h n C o l e s 2 0 16 s

“A Virginia Horseman Specializing in Virginia Horse Properties” HiCkorY Tree

HiDDeN TrAiL fArm

The beautifully groomed 325 acres of this thoroughbred horse breeding & training farm rests at the edge of Middleburg. The gently rolling land includes a stately manor home, tenant homes, Confederate Hall, the barns and 6 furlong training track. The Georgian Style Training Barn is stunning and includes 28 stalls and a 1/8 mile indoor training track & paddocks. $10,450,000

Magnificent horse property in the midst of the serene countryside. From the picturesque Young Road two driveways access the 107 acres of Hidden Trail Farm. The first leads to one of the finest indoor arenas surrounded by exquisite ride out. The second is the graceful, park-like drive, which parallels a creek and then gently curves up to the elegant manor home. $6,500,000

meADowgroVe

greeN gArDeN

Extraordinary 7 Bedroom estate on over 180 acres. New Gourmet State of the Art Kitchen & Baths. Gorgeous full wall of windows overlooking a 10 acre lake. Pool and poolhouse with fireplace, spa and new tennis courts. Ideal for horses with 10 stall stable, paddocks with run-in sheds. $3,950,000

c.1823, with a stunning tree lined entrance, offers one of the grand manor homes in the famed horse country of Upperville and Piedmont Hunt. Recently renovated, the home offers wonderful indoor and outdoor living areas. Porches, gardens, barns, paddocks, riding arena, pond, pool and magnificent mountain views. $3,700,000

THe grANge

ASHLeigH

This is a classic, elegant Virginia manor house with a custom designed kitchen open to the family room and attention to detail throughout. The 3 bedroom, 3 ½ Bath home also features a pool, guest house, 4 stall barn on 18 acres located in the Orange County Hunt Territory. Convenient access to I- 66, Rt. 50 and Dulles International Airport $2,999,000

The 98 acre estate c.1840, 2 bedroom pool/guest house adjacent to heated pool. 2 bedroom tenant home, 10 stall barn with 1 bedroom apt. and manager's office, additional 4 stall & 3 stall barn. Paddocks, pond, & magnificent gardens. 42 acres of this property are in managed Forestry Land Use. Excellent access to I-66. $2,900,000

HouND HALL

Custom Built stone/stucco 3-story home on 100+ acres with 4 bedrooms plus large master in-law suite with separate parking and entrance. Slate roof,game room, custom theatre, workout room, study, office, dog room, custom kitchen, 4 stone fireplaces. Extensive horse facilities include 18 stall barn,2 stall barn, 14 paddocks, large ring and much more. $5,500,000

merrYCHASe

Magnificent 155 Acre Atoka Road Estate with gated entry opening into the private drive lined with mature trees. The charming historic manor home, c. 1827 backs to expansive views of fields and ponds. 4 tenant homes, 3 barns, indoor and outdoor riding arenas. Gently rolling pasture land with fenced paddocks and fields. $3,250,000

SToNeHAVeN

A picturesque and tranquil retreat nestled on 158+ acres in pristine Rappahannock County. At the end of the private drive is the historic Stone residence. Property also features and additional stone guest cottage/office and a charming and beautifully restored 2 bedroom log cabin. Gardens, lawn, barns, paddocks and ride out provide an outdoor haven. $1,845,000

LAND

NorTH HiLL

wHiTeHALL

HOPEWELL ROAD - 82.99 acres with access from either The Plains Road or Hopewell Road. Nice elevation and several options for house sites. All wooded, with amazing view potential. Includes a certification letter for a 5 BR septic system. Property is in Easement and cannot be further subdivided. $1,395,000

The 16 room Manor House, c.1774 on 87 ACRES with mountain views, rolling hills & the property's 1300' of Shenandoah River frontage. Ballroom with dramatic Tiffany style windows. Tenant house and horse barns. VOF easement w/2 DURs. Contingent upon property being divided with option to purchase more. $1,700,000

OLD CARTERS MILL RD - 53+ acres of beautiful, open and gently rolling land with expansive views of the countryside and distant mountains. Located in the coveted Orange County Hunt Territory of Fauquier County, this land provides exceptional ride-out potential. A home-site has been studied including engineers report verifying a site for a 5 Bedroom septic, well and potential pond site. Open space easement, land cannot be divided.

$1,300,000

The stately mansion is sited on 8½ acres within the town limits of The Plains, VA. The size of the home and its room sizes lends itself beautifully for hosting large events. The foyer measures 48’ x 11’. The zoning allows for potential division rights or potential tax credits. Convenient to Exit 31 of I-66. $1,495,000

Offers subject to errors, omissions, change of price or withdrawal without notice. Information contained herein is deemed reliable, but is not so warranted nor is it otherwise guaranteed.

(540) 270-0094 THOMAS AND TALBOT REAL ESTATE (540) 687-6500

Middleburg, Virginia 20118

www.Thomas-Talbot.com


Page 20

A profile of British artist Daniel Crane, who tries to capture the essence of foxhunting.

SUMMER 2016 • VOLUME 7, NUMBER 2

Features 16 SCULPTING A SECOND CAREER BY CHRISTOPHER OAKFORD

Two artists craft lives as sporting sculptors.

20 THE STORY OF SPORT BY AMY GESELL

Sporting art as seen through the eyes of one of England’s most notable artists.

26 FROM RANCH TO FOXHUNTING BY HEATHER BENSON

Former racehorses find new purpose on ranches and in the hunt field.

30 LAST CHANCE TALENT BY FRED BERRY Last Chance Talent ’11 lives up to her name.

IN EACH ISSUE:

8

14

From the President p.2

THE CLUB The people and events of MFHA’s member clubs. YOUNG ENTRY Follow one young rider’s journey to good health and hunting.

From the Publisher p.4

36

ASK THE KENNELMAN A day in the life of Mike Gottier.

38

THE FIND Fun and functional riding and tack accessories

ON OUR COVER: Linda L. Volrath’s artistic expression of foxhunting, Fan Club, portrays beauty and solitude.

MFHA News p.6

Last Run of the Day p.48

40

BETTER HUNTING The perfect foxhunting partner differs for every rider.

44

FARE & FLASK Lowcountry Hunt’s end of season feast

46

LIBRARY The foxhunter’s guide to good reads. SUMMER 2016 | 1


FROM THE PRESIDENT

Our New Home

MASTERS OF FOXHOUNDS ASSOCIATION OF AMERICA

I

2 | COVERTSIDE

www.mfha.com

OFFICERS

Dr. John R. van Nagell, MFH • President Patrick A. Leahy, MFH • First Vice-President Leslie Crosby, MFH • Second Vice-President Joseph Kent, ex-MFH • Secretary-Treasurer Lt. Col. Dennis J. Foster, ex-MFH • Executive Director

MFHA FOUNDATION

Dr. John R. van Nagell, MFH • President PO Box 363, Millwood, VA 22646 (540) 955-5680

HUNT STAFF BENEFIT FOUNDATION Nancy Stahl, MFH • President PO Box 363, Millwood, VA 22646 (540) 955-5680

COVERTSIDE EDITORIAL BOARD DAVE TRAXLER

n April, the MFHA Foundation purchased a property at 301 East Washington Street, in Middleburg, Virginia, to become the national headquarters of the MFHA, MFHA Foundation, and the Hunt Staff Benefit Foundation. Previous MFHA offices have been in Boston, Massachusetts, Morven Park in Leesburg, Virginia, and since 2002, in Millwood, Virginia. The new property contains an attractive, historic building and a beautiful garden. Importantly, it is on the main street of Middleburg, with excellent access for the public. This purchase is the culmination of an 18-month search process by the MFHA Site Committee, during which a number of locations in several states were considered and evaluated. When renovations are completed, the major functions of our new headquarters will be: (1) offices for the MFHA Executive Director, as well as the staff of the association and foundations; (2) space for a large board room which can also be used for educational seminars; and (3) a facility to present selected items reflecting the history and art of American foxhunting, which will be informative both to those interested in the sport and the general public. This new facility should allow us to perform all of these functions in an outstanding way. The headquarters will be open to visitors at least three days per week, giving us a unique opportunity to tell the story of our cherished sport. The purchase price of this property was $800,000, and it is estimated that an additional $700,000 will be required for renovations. To date, we have received $300,000 in private donations for this project, and fundraising efforts are just beginning. As is mentioned on page 3, your tax-free donation should be sent directly

to Dennis Foster at the current MFHA office, or online at www.mfha.com, with a designation of support for the MFHA Headquarters Project. It is so important that each of us participate by giving what we can, and that we have a national headquarters that represents each hunt and all of foxhunting in the best possible manner. As the new season approaches, we look forward to seeing how our new entry interact with veterans in the pack, and whether or not our favorite field hunter is better than ever. We are again reminded of how fortunate we are to be able to participate in this amazing sport. All the best,

Dr. Jack van Nagell, MFH President, MFHA

Emily Esterson • Editor-in-Chief Dennis J. Foster, ex-MFH Dr. John R. van Nagell, MFH Patrick A. Leahy, MFH Leslie Crosby, MFH

DIRECTORS

Canada • Laurel Byrne, MFH Carolinas • Fred Berry, MFH Central • Arlene Taylor, MFH Great Plains • Dr. Luke Matranga, MFH Maryland-Delaware • Sheila Brown, MFH Midsouth • Orrin Ingram, MFH Midwest • Keith Gray, MFH New England • Dr. Terence Hook, MFH New York-New Jersey • Marion Thorne, MFH Northern Virginia-West Virginia • Tad Zimmerman, MFH Pacific • Terry Paine, MFH Pennsylvania • Sean Cully, MFH Rocky Mountain • Mary Ewing, MFH Southern • Mercer Fearington, MFH Virginia • Bob Ferrer, MFH Western • John P. Dorrier Jr., MFH At Large • Daphne Wood, MFH At Large • Mason H. Lampton, MFH At Large • Dr. G. Marvin Beeman, MFH At Large • Ed Kelly, MFH

COVERTSIDE (ISSN 1547-4216) is published quarterly (February, May, August and November) by the Masters of Foxhounds Association 675 Lime Marl Lane, Berryville, VA 22611. Periodical Postage Paid at Winchester, VA 22601 and additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to MFHA, PO Box 363, Millwood, VA 22646. COVERTSIDE READERS: Direct all correspondence to the same address. Tel: (540)955-5680. Website: www.mfha.com


OUR FUTURE

National Headquarters Our future home, Middleburg, VA

OUR NEW HEADQUARTERS WILL BE OPEN TO THE PUBLIC,

and you are a part of our expansion. • Easy access to public to provide foxhunting information & history

• Located in foxhunting country with over 26 hunts within two hours

• Meeting rooms, class rooms, videos on foxhunting and foxhunting library all in one

MFHA REPRESENTS FOXHUNTING FOR ALL US! Whether you give $5.00 or $5000, you can be a part of our new headquarters, building on our mission to Promote, Preserve, Protect mounted foxhunting for future generations!

• In Historic Middleburg, a quaint civil war town in the heart of Virginia horse country.

Send your tax deductible donation to:

MFHA Foundation, P. O. Box 363, Millwood, VA 22646 Or online at: www.mfha.com Please make the notation “Headquarters Fund” on your check.


FROM THE PUBLISHER

Hanging Out with History

W ROBERT KORNACKI

henever foxhunters gather, there’s a sense of camaraderie. Such was the case during the third weekend in April, at the Biennial Staff Seminar. As always, there was great learning to be had from the seminars themselves. Jimmy Wofford gave a riding lesson to a banquet room full of riveted guests, using only a white board and a dry-erase marker

(no horses in sight). His points about leg position, balance, and yes, posting without stirrups (a lot), were absorbed and discussed throughout the weekend. Saturday morning’s trip to the Middleburg Hunt’s kennels and to Huntland provided unique insights into the history of foxhunting and its current state. And the workshops covered everything from when and how to introduce puppies to the main pack, to choosing the right horse for the job.

4 | COVERTSIDE

But more importantly, it was the socializing that made the weekend special. Even if we don’t know each other, chances are we share experience and a sense of adventure. This was really clear to me on Saturday night at the Huntland dinner (a truly special event, and shame on those who missed it!). I happened to mosey up to a free spot at a table already occupied by two lovely Canadians (Eglinton and Caledon Hunt, I believe). Within minutes we were telling adventure stories. Those kinds of interactions happened over and over during the weekend. And that doesn’t include reconnecting with old friends. To use the old saw, “a good time was had by all” would be an understatement. Kudos to the organizing committee, including Leslie Crosby, Tad Zimmerman, Keith Gray, Mary Ewing and of course, Dennis Foster and Jenn Lambiase for a job well done. Part of what we love about foxhunting is the culture, and in this issue, we present one of our favorite topics: foxhunting art. From sculpture to painting, this time around we focus on those who both hunt and create art. We also caught up with several ranchers who use their horses for foxhunting and cattle work, and we have our usual news about the clubs and people who make our sport great. Enjoy!

Emily Esterson Editor-in-Chief/Publisher

SUMMER 2016 EDITOR-IN-CHIEF/PUBLISHER EMILY ESTERSON publisher@covertside.net 505-553-2671 ART DIRECTOR GLENNA STOCKS production@covertside.net

EDITORIAL ASSOCIATE EDITOR SANDRA MCGINNIS sandy@covertside.net

CONTRIBUTING WRITERS HEATHER BENSON MARTHA DRUM AMY GESELL SUSAN HOFFMAN JOANNE MESZOLY CHRISTOPHER OAKFORD GLENYE CAIN OAKFORD MICHAEL STERN

ADVERTISING AND MARKETING SALES MANAGER CHERYL MICROUTSICOS sales@covertside.net 434-664-7057 PENNSYLVANIA/MID-ATLANTIC KATHY DRESS kdress@ptd.net NORTHEAST SPENCER MOORE spencer@covertside.net Covertside is the official publication of the Masters of Foxhounds Association Published by E-Squared Editorial Services LLC 2329 Lakeview Rd. SW Albuquerque, NM 87105 Telephone: 505-553-2671 Web Address: www.ecovertside.net www.mfha.com


MFHA NEWS

IT WAS A WEEKEND OF FUN,

answered questions about their

THE BIENNIAL STAFF SEMINAR,

fairly new facility

held April 22-24 in Chantilly,

(the final portion

Virginia. The festivities began

completed last

with the popular eventing

year). All eyes

Olympian Jimmy Wofford, who

then turned to

presented key equitation and

Huntsman Hugh

fitness principles for foxhunters.

Robards as he brought

Using a white board for simple

out his pack with the

illustrations, he insisted that a

assistance of several

physically fit rider has about 30

whippers-in, including

percent more horse left at the

a few juniors. A few

end of the day, and exhorted his

2016 puppies, several

audience to begin by trotting ten

weeks old, came out

steps a day without stirrups —

to greet the large

then twenty — and work upward.

crowd as well.

Other excellent tips involved bal-

A highlight of the

Hugh Robards, huntsman, Middleburg, has his hounds’ attention. INSET: Dennis Foster, seminar attendee Tami Masters from Woodbrook Hunt Club, and Jimmy Wofford.

ance, position and stirrup length,

weekend was the

but Wofford’s no-stirrups advice

detailed tour of the

became a theme repeated

historic kennels and stables at

The tour simultaneously explained

hearing Dr. Parker recount cor-

throughout the weekend.

Huntland, one of the most promi-

the original layout and daily use

respondence and hunt reports

nent hunting estates of the early

of the buildings, as well as the

from the original owner. Saturday

burg Hunt opened its kennels to

20th century. Dr. Betsee Parker

conservation and renovation pro-

evening, participants dressed up

seminar attendees. The group

has been carefully restoring the

cess. Seminar participants walked

and headed back to Middleburg

admired the clean, open design

circa 1834 property to its 1911

through the original lodges and

for a spectacular cocktail party

of the runs and lodges. Masters

state, which is when J.B. Thomas

courtyard, learning about the

in the main house at Huntland.

Jeff Blue and Penny Denegre

Jr., avid foxhunter, purchased it.

beagle and foxhound packs and

As a token of appreciation for his

On Saturday morning, Middle-

twenty-five years of service as Executive Director of the MFHA, the Board presented Dennis Foster with a commissioned painting of Foster jumping the famous New Zealand wire. Also, the Ian Milne Award, recognizing an outstanding huntsman, was presented to John Gray, Hillsboro Hounds, Tenn. That formal presentation will take place before the Horn Blowing Championship at the Virginia Hound Show, on May 28. Saturday and Sunday educational sessions included “Hunting Across America,” a survey of country, quarry, technique, and horses ranging from Canada to the Deep South. “The Hunt THE MFHA CLOSED ON ITS NEW HEADQUARTERS in downtown Middleburg, Va., on April 15. The property will include offices for the executive staff of the association and foundation, as well as education space and a visitor’s center for people wanting to learn about foxhunting. There is also storage space for the MFHA’s extensive art collection. The property needs to be renovated, and the MFHA and MFHA Foundation are raising money for that purpose (see ad, page 3). The property won’t be occupied for at least six months to a year.

Horse,” featured several exceptional horsemen sharing their philosophies and practices. A Masters’ seminar featured topics such as public relations and marketing, fundraising and hound care. For more details on the Staff Seminar, check ecovertside.net.

6 | COVERTSIDE

PHOTOS MARTHA DRUM

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THE CLUB society. We have to observe

herded his development and

and adapt, to diversify the

also inspired him to give back.

sources of income, to reach out

With their guidance, Dr. Cowles

to a wider community for sup-

gained experience in all areas

port.” To meet these and other

of the Thoroughbred industry

desired outcomes, strategic

and in the polo, foxhunting, and

planning is critical. Hunt clubs

jump racing communities. He

must articulate goals, brain-

ultimately landed near Charlot-

storm and then refine steps to

tesville, practicing at George-

achieve them, and maintain a

town Veterinary Hospital before

schedule for completion. The

establishing Blue Ridge Equine

plan needs to be reviewed and

FROM PASSION TO SERVICE

Clinic in 1978.

reevaluated regularly.

Farmington Hunt President Reynolds Cowles, DVM, to lead the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP). BY MARTHA DRUM

CATHY SUMMERS

underscores that they shep-

Throughout his professional

Dr. Cowles recommends

progress, Dr. Cowles maintained

officers and Masters identify

a sense of gratitude and obliga-

needs, then form committees

tion to contribute. His service

and empower them to act —

began on veterinary and racing

acknowledging this can be diffi-

committees in Virginia, then

cult to do. He underscores that

gradually expanded to leader-

accomplishments are ultimately

ship in national organizations.

the result of team efforts,

“The AAEP has been so good

and emphasizes that leaders

to me. It’s been so good at sup-

need to be proactive to recruit

porting its members through

others. “You have to ask,” he

DR. COWLES GREW UP in a

advocacy and education. It’s

explains. “You have to go and

farming and sporting family

fun to give back. It’s an honor,”

get the talent that is available

Foxhunters and the AAEP

where service and initiative were

he explains.

in your group.” At Farmington,

father started the first foxhound

the horse, Dr. Cowles’ success-

kennels, stable, and clubhouse

Dr. Cowles is not the first

field trials in North Carolina. His

ful stewardship results from his

property placed in conserva-

father raised purebred Jersey

pragmatic eye for sound busi-

tion easement last year, which

cattle, bred jacks on Army

ness. Across the groups he’s led,

provides financial benefit to

remount mares to produce qual-

from a hunt club with fewer than

the club through Virginia’s tax

ity mules (innovating artificial

200 members, to the AAEP, with

credit resale program.

Practitioners. Dr. Marvin

insemination in the 1930s),

nearly 9,300, he insists the chal-

Having transitioned out of

Beeman, Master and

and his mother was the county

lenges are the same. “You’ve got

ownership of Blue Ridge Equine

huntsman for the Arapa-

tax supervisor. Surrounded by

to have organizational manage-

Clinic’s successful ambula-

working horses, he became

ment, goal setting, and commu-

tory and inpatient practice, Dr.

an instant Thoroughbred fan

nication — just like you’d need

Cowles remains busy on staff

watching the 1956 Kentucky

in any business, church, or civic

treating patients. Asked how

Derby on television. He speaks

organization. There have to be

he spends time when he’s not

strongly about that influence on

systems in place to channel ideas

around horses, Dr. Cowles gives

his future career: “It starts with

and ensure you get results.”

a quick reply: “Playing with my

foxhunter to lead the prestigious American Association of Equine

hoe Hunt in Colorado, was a board member and president of the organization in 1975. Dr. Beeman also gave the

the example. In 1918, his grand-

a passion for the horse,” he says

While inspired by passion for

Asked about specific chal-

keynote speech at the

with animation, “regardless of

lenges facing hunt clubs, Dr.

organization’s 60th annual

the ability or kind of horse, it

Cowles identifies a changing

convention, held in Salt

drives us, that passion.”

membership: “This sport was

Lake City in 2014. He is also a past president of MFHA (2008-2011).

8 | COVERTSIDE

As Dr. Cowles began his

once fueled, in many places,

career with horses, he ben-

by just a few wealthy families

efited from mentors such as Dr.

and landowners, and it is a very

Joe O’Day, Dr. Dan Flynn, Felix

traditional sport. But we need

Neusch, Danny Van Clief. He

to be adaptable to changes in

this process helped get the

bird dogs or fly rods in Montana. Or bush hogging!” Martha Drum is the social media editor for Covertside. She gives lessons camps at her Easy Keeper Farm in Va. A former Associate Master of Norfolk Hunt, she now rides with Farmington and Keswick Hunts.


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GOLDEN AGE Hunting past the age of 75 BY KATIE BO WILLIAMS

MERCER FEARINGTON was almost 50 the first time a

MERCER FEARINGTON

CATHY CARR TABER

Meet older foxhunters who still passionately follow hounds.

AGE: 78 never ridden English. “I survived on this horse and

HUNT: Live

Oak Hounds

friend prevailed upon him to

I hunted the next 46 hunts

go autumn hunting, but in

straight and they made me

the 28 years since, he’s hardly

a field master. I mean, I was

longevity in the hunt field is

missed a hunt.

dead hooked.”

one part consistency and two

convince themselves they’re

parts determination. Don’t quit

old.”

For Fearington, the key to

“I went out and bought

Fearington says he’s more

a Thoroughbred that dead-

fit now than he was in his mid-

hunting — and don’t buy into

headed back from Oklahoma

30s, a credit to the close to

the fact that you’re getting old.

from a feedlot,” he recalls. “A

400 hours a year he spends in

local low-end horse trader had

the saddle following hounds.

it, so I thought, that’s prob-

“I’ve seen so many people

visible shake of the head. “They’ll sell their horses and

Meanwhile, Fearington says his only regret is that he didn’t start 20 or 30 years sooner.

who’ll get into their late 60s,

“That’s enough to keep you

talking around at a cocktail

ably perfect for what I need. I

fit … or dead, one of the two,”

party, saying, ‘I’m too old,’”

did know how to ride, but had

he quips.

Fearington says with an almost

Katie Bo Williams is a freelance journalist and editor, and a lifetime Virginia foxhunter.

SUMMER 2016 | 9


THE CLUB Hunt (Md.) opened their own recently built kennels for comparison. Initial challenges included the land itself. Piedmont owns the property, thanks to the generosity of a few individuals who purchased the farm and transferred it to the club. The acreage, however, sits within an historic Civil War battlefield MIDDLEBURG PHOTO

district and foxhound kennels do not precisely fall into either agricultural or commercial land use designation. The leadership team had to communicate their

TWO BRUSHES INTO THE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY Visit the venerable Piedmont Fox Hounds in their posh new kennels.

vision persuasively to Loudoun County officials as the plan evolved. The Masters emphasized that the club’s record as a good civic neighbor and the positive relationships they have fostered with surrounding landowners proved invaluable.

BY MARTHA DRUM providing a kennel tour last

THE FLOOR PLAN FLOWS NICELY

is one of the oldest organized

from the 1920s and had been

March, the Masters expressed

The new complex’s clean outline

hunt clubs in the United States.

derelict for a period while

their gratitude to every donor.

stands neatly atop a small hill

When the decision was made

hounds were kenneled else-

“We had one hundred percent

above the stables. Entering

to build new kennels, tradi-

where. The yards rolled steeply

participation from the board,”

through the front courtyard, the

tional wisdom combined with

down to a low-lying field, and

notes Ryan, “and excellent con-

immediate impression is bright,

contemporary execution to

despite staff ’s best efforts,

tributions from the subscrib-

clean, elegant — and quiet.

create a hound haven.

aging fences encouraged what

ers.” This enabled Piedmont to

Hicks, a South Carolina native,

Huntsman Jordan Hicks calls

realize a beautiful and useful

nods and gestures toward re-

in Upperville, Va., has helped

“jailbreaks.” By 2014, Joint

building. They were also deter-

laxed, lounging hounds, “They’re

define the storied horse coun-

Masters Shelby Bonnie, Tad

mined to make it durable. “We

happy, they’re not fussing, we

try of Loudoun and Fauquier

Zimmerman, and Gregg Ryan

love these kennels,” says Zim-

can all hear each other talking,

counties. Prominent sporting

recognized that the old kennels

merman, standing in front of

and they can hear me.”

institutions, including the Up-

could no longer continue in ser-

the new building, “but we don’t

perville Colt and Horse Show,

vice. With the support of Pied-

want to do this again.”

the Mrs. Theodora A. Randolph

mont’s board of directors, the

The broader foxhunting

tect Leah C. Palmer, an active

Memorial North American Field

decision was made to construct

fraternity offered advice and

foxhunter. She shares that she

Hunter Championships, and the

an entirely new facility.

wisdom. Huntsmen such as

grew up enjoying all aspects of

Andrew Barclay and Masters

sporting life — “riding, hunt-

FOUNDED IN 1840, Piedmont

Piedmont Fox Hounds, based

The kennels, however, dated

Piedmont Point-to-Point Races

Piedmont benefited from a valuable resource in archi-

are closely tied to the hunt and

GETTING STARTED

Glenn Epstein, Dennis Foster,

ing, and cleaning kennels, so I

its founders and Masters. In

Once this commitment was

Tony Leahy, and Marty and

knew how important creating a

the field, from the nineteenth

announced, the club commu-

Daphne Wood, among others,

workable space would be!” Her

century to the present, Pied-

nity rallied in support — includ-

offered insight. Orange County

experience contributed to the

mont’s well-regarded pack has

ing the means to complete

Hounds (Va.), Green Spring Val-

spacious and functional floor

provided terrific sport across

the project without drawing

ley Hounds (Md.), Blue Ridge

plan. The welcoming courtyard,

exhilarating country.

on operating expenses. While

Hunt (Va.) and Elkridge-Harford

oriented to collect heat in the

10 | COVERTSIDE


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www.charlesowen.com


winter, guides visitors into the

from it. Hicks praises this lay-

main aisle. In summer, leav-

out’s impact on hound health:

ing the doors open from the

“I have more room to interact

courtyard will capture prevail-

one-on-one with the hounds,

ing winds for airflow.

to sort them, and to tend to

Four airy, bright lodges open

individual needs.” Throughout

off the aisle, with the area

hound areas, multiple ceiling

for bitches in heat separated

fans, awning windows, and

across the roomy feedlot and

overhead doors provide plenty

skinning yard. Piedmont feeds a

of airflow options.

good amount of flesh; the over-

Additional spaces include a large feed room with washable

to enter, and the attached

fiberglass walls, a hound-sized

walk-in refrigerator provides

commercial grade sink, and

convenient storage for future

stainless steel countertops.

meals. The lodges have raised

Across the courtyard, the com-

considering water flow, space,

concrete beds with two inches

fortably finished office boasts

light, air, and sanitation of the

of rigid insulation and sealed

WiFi, desktops for recordkeep-

rubber mats. The concrete

ing, and displays of club photo-

yards extend to gates opening

graphs and memorabilia.

directly into the larger stone

No detail was overlooked when

new Piedmont kennels.

beyond the basic floor plan

walls and windowsills are angled

into myriad smaller, signifi-

to prevent pooling. Connected

easy movement to the three

THE DELIGHT IS IN THE DETAILS

cant points. She and builder

underground trenches at either

1/2-acre grass yards that radiate

Palmer’s expertise extended

James Fletcher utilized modern

end of the aisle and the back

technology and materials to

edges of the yards collect and

enhance and preserve the

transport runoff to prevent mud

structure. The high ceiling al-

and erosion. Accessible valves

lows excellent light and airflow,

allow staff to control how water

slopes to disperse noise, and

drains to protect the leach field.

is covered with two-inch-thick

Most of these details are almost

waterproof acoustic tiles to

unnoticeable, but enable the

absorb sound. Hound area walls

huntsman to maintain his high

are concrete block, painted

standards for sanitation while

with two coats of commercial-

leaving the area surrounding the

grade block filler, in colors

kennels intact and attractive.

dust yard for wet weather and

chosen to conceal oil stains

January 15, 2016, when the

are rounded to prevent injury

pack moved in. Happily, hounds

and climbing.

and huntsman are pleased with

These techniques continue

12 | COVERTSIDE

The ultimate test came on

from hounds’ coats. The edges

the comfort of their custom-

into the yards. To discourage

designed quarters. After a few

Hicks’ athletic hounds from

months’ occupancy, Hicks’

attempting more jailbreaks, the

favorite features include effec-

fences extend underground

tive water pressure coupled

and concrete lines each gate

with excellent drainage. “All my

threshold. As you might expect,

work flows better,” he observes

there is a lot of hosing. Perhaps

with a smile when asked to

the most sustained innovation

name the biggest improve-

throughout this well-planned

ment to his daily routine. “It’s

structure is control of water

a bigger space, so it still takes

runoff. Inside the building, all

time, but everything is simpler.

floor surfaces are sloped to

It’s the best kennels I’ve ever

keep water moving. The tops of

worked in.”

MIDDLEBURG PHOTO

head doors here allow a tractor


The Masters of Foxhounds Association seeks

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR The Masters of Foxhounds Association, based in Middleburg, Va., seeks an executive director to manage a 109-year-old membership-based organization dedicated to mounted hunting with hounds. The executive director works closely with a board of directors and reports to the president. He or she manages the association and its budget, finances and fundraising. Other activities include planning events, seminars, and board meetings; marketing, promotion and public relations for the sport of mounted hunting with hounds; and working with local and federal legislative activities. The executive director will engage with 154 member clubs, as well as hunting-related organizations. Salary and benefits commensurate with experience. PLEASE SUBMIT RESUME AND SALARY EXPECTATIONS TO

Christy@MFHA.com Applications due by June 15th.


YOUNG ENTRY

Brynn Miller (LEFT) has Cystic Fibrosis, but hunts enthusiastically with her mom Joanne Meszoly (RIGHT), and other members of Potomac.

Hunting for Good Health BY JOANNE MESZOLY | PHOTOGRAPHS KAREN KANDRA WENZEL

“Fire the missiles!” YOU WON’T FIND that phrase in any foxhunting glossary, but you might hear it in the Potomac Hunt’s second field. Last fall, my five-year-old daughter, Brynn, tested the foxhunting waters and promptly plunged in. One outing and she was a convert. She’s a vocal participant, yelling “’Ware hole!” or “’Ware wire!” though there’s no one to ’ware; she’s the caboose who trails the second field. But as the last in line, she gets to holler, “Staff please!” when a whip suddenly approaches and needs 14 | COVERTSIDE

to wend through a trail clogged with riders. “Fire the missiles!” is Brynn’s vernacular for an impending run: She shortens her reins, grabs her pony’s neck strap, and hunkers down. At present, Brynn is the youngest rider in the Potomac Hunt. Her paddock boots barely clear the saddle flaps, and creek crossings are daunting, cavernous leaps for a kindergartener. In the foxhunting world, her age isn’t remarkable. Youngsters participate in hunt clubs across the country — some younger

than Brynn. On the whole, these pint-sized riders are wellreceived: Not only are they cute in their miniature hunt coats and tiny jods, but they represent future members who will hopefully sustain hunt clubs for years to come. Like any parent, I am pleased that one of my kids is interested in foxhunting. I hope that she learns about the sport and hones her riding skills. But for Brynn, foxhunting poses an added benefit: It might help her lung function. And she needs all the help she can get. My husband Martin and I never knew that we both carried a single defective gene that normally helps salt move

in and out of cells. We discovered this when our third child, Brynn, was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis (CF), a genetic disease that causes the body to produce thick mucus, which leads to digestive problems and compromised lung function. Decades ago, CF sufferers rarely lived beyond elementary school age. Now, the average age for CF patients is 38, and many live much longer, thanks to frequent hospital check-ups, advancements in medical treatment, and daily physical therapy that helps to loosen and clear mucus from the airways. Riding horses was already a part of Brynn’s life when I mentioned it during one of her check-ups at Johns Hopkins. Her physical therapist perked up and said that riding can be beneficial; all the bouncing might help with airway clearance. Doctors are less enocuraging, citing the germs and pathogens that are present in barns. Foxhunting wasn’t part of the plan, but when the Potomac Hunt hosted an Introduction to Foxhunting clinic last summer, I took Brynn and she was hooked. I hastily pulled together appropriate apparel, snapped a lead rope to her pony, and off we went. The first few hunts, she cried in fear when we negotiated steep hills and


ravines. But by her fourth outing she’d mastered much of the terrain, and in November, she hunted solo — “off the leash” as she likes to say. Her pony Rocky has accepted his new career as a hunt mount, though every so often, he grabs the bit and takes off. Brynn grabs the neck strap and hangs on until someone

heads them off. Brynn’s lung health is a mystery — her airways may be clear and healthy, or clogged and compromised. But if horseback riding may help, then hours of foxhunting are even better. And more importantly, Brynn likes hunting. She is mesmerized by the hounds, and she

scans the horizon in the hopes of seeing the fox. She soaks it all in — the hounds at work, the country, and the rules of riding. She refuses to head in until our huntsman announces that we’re done for the day. I’d like to say that she’s equally receptive to hunting etiquette, but I’d be lying. At one meet she loudly proclaimed, “We’ve already hunted here today! Why are we hunting the same territory again?” (I hissed at her to be quiet.) At the conclusion of that hunt, as we passed one of the Joint Masters, I advised Brynn to thank the field master for the day. “For what?” she asked indignantly. “What did he do?” Hopefully, Brynn will temper her smart-aleck remarks and

retain her passion for horse and hound. But I hope her tenacious attitude will help her fight a lifelong battle with CF. Ronald Reagan (or Winston Churchill, depending on who you ask) once said, “There’s nothing better for the inside of a man than the outside of a horse.” For Brynn, I truly hope those words ring true. Joanne Meszoly is a Marylandbased freelance writer and a member of the Potomac Hunt. EDITOR’S NOTE: Brynn was admitted to the hospital for a week shortly after this story was written. She went home with an IV-catheter line to continue treatment; a day after that line was removed, she rode at the hunt’s final meet.

SUMMER 2016 | 15


FOXHUNTING SEEPS INTO EVERY NOOK AND CRANNY OF A PERSON’S LIFE, affecting everything from one’s choice of clothes to where one lives, and most certainly in how much income remains in one’s bank account at the end of the month. And perhaps most pervasively of all, it can profoundly influence a person’s taste in art, as just a cursory examination of most foxhunters’ homes will reveal. From the grandest hunting estate to the humblest cottage, sporting art is ubiquitous and surprisingly democratic. Below, we profile artists who specialize in hunting and sporting sculpture.

BY CHRISTOPHER OAKFORD

SCULPTING A SECOND CAREER Two artists show their passion for sporting art through bronze. 16 | COVERTSIDE


BARRY HENDERSON

B

arry Henderson of Atlanta, Georgia, spent much of his career in commercial real estate, becoming a full-time artist only six years ago at the respectable age of 65. “I guess being an entrepreneur and building shopping centers was still kind of creative!” Although art was a serious preoccupation, he pursued it on a strictly amateur basis. All that changed when a friend who specialized in wildlife sculpture persuaded him to take a class. “I took it for a week and I really enjoyed it, so I took some more in Sedona, Arizona, and that’s where I really fell in love with it.” As the former MFH and huntsman of the now-defunct Shamrock Hounds, Henderson has a profound knowledge of the sport, and this informs his work. “Ever since I started sculpting I had in the back of my mind that I wanted to combine my two passions: English foxhunting and sculpting,” he says. And as he explains, “I’m really fortunate to be able to combine them. Most artists search around for something they enjoy doing that will also sell, and often there’s a conflict there because what they enjoy is the art, but they have to sell their work and so there’s a compromise.” The enduring popularity of sporting art means Henderson can produce art from his passion that is also highly marketable. Henderson begins each piece with a mental picture of a typical scene from his hunting past and then aims to capture the moment in bronze. “I hunted hounds for 27 years. So my mind just races with ideas. I hope that my love of the hounds, and my understanding of and appreciation for the traditions of the sport, come through in my art. I concentrate on accuracy. I study the anatomy of horses and I kind of know by now what a hunter looks like.” Ultimately, though, it is the hounds that intrigue him most. “Anything with a dog involved, that’s where I’m happiest! And hopefully anyone who knows hounds will look at my work and think I know exactly what those hounds are thinking.” Henderson describes the sculpting process as a collaborative effort. “It’s my vision, my idea. I produce a clay model of what the finished piece will look like. Then I send it to a foundry about an hour from my house, and they turn it into bronze.” The sculptures are cast in pieces and then welded together. The process can take up to 90 days, and Henderson visits the foundry several times in order to keep an eye on proceedings. “I’m very lucky to have a good foundry so close. There are not many that specialize in art casting. I’ll go there and just check, for example, that a hound’s leg is exactly as I meant it to be. If you don’t catch flaws early, then they go through the whole process and you could end up with a hound with a crooked leg.” Once the piece is assembled, Henderson works with an expert to apply his choice of patina. “It’s not paint, it’s a mixture of chemicals that’s applied to the bronze and gives it a color, whether it’s bright or dark. I’m very traditional and prefer a darker patina for my work. “My inspiration is actually Western art. … And a lot of it is narrative sculpting; it tries to tell a story. I’ve taken that and combined it with my passion for foxhunting.”

ABOVE: Barry Henderson, Let’s Go. Photo by Lynn Henderson. LEFT: Barry Henderson, First Cast of the Day. Photo by Lynn Henderson.

SUMMER 2016 | 17


STEPHEN WINTERBURN

L BELOW: Stephen Winterburn, Grayling. Photo by Justin Gardner. LEFT: Stephen Winterburn, Greenfinch. Photo by Justin Gardner.

ike Henderson, Stephen Winterburn pursued an alternative career for much of his adult life. “I tried a lot of different ways to make a living. I had a motorcycle business, then a printing business, and finally a clothing business,” he reveals. “I suppose I started painting in my early twenties, and for many years I concentrated on oil paintings of wild animals. I traveled all over the world, to India and Africa, for example, to paint. I didn’t start sculpting until I went to a game fair and saw a display of falconry. It fascinated me. The first thing I sculpted was a golden eagle!” The sculptor, who is based in Yorkshire, England, now commands high prices for works that can take up to a year to construct and are issued in editions of only eight. Commissions have included hounds for the Duke of Beaufort, a portrait of the Duke of Edinburgh, and a sporting piece to decorate the gates of Wembley Stadium. Winterburn’s technique begins with creating an armature, which in turn is followed by applying clay and forming a mold into which the molten bronze is poured. It is a process that is over 5,000 years old, and one that to Winterburn finds an echo in the subject matter. “It’s very traditional and hasn’t changed, and I think that’s what I like about it. And that’s what I love about hunting, too. As a city lad, I didn’t know anything about it. I was introduced to it by Justin [Gardner, owner of Muse. The Sculpture Company, the gallery that represents Winterburn], who was Master of the Monmouthshire for years. I love the energy and enthusiasm of the people who do it, and also the tradition and continuity. It really is something that binds the community together.” Even so, Winterburn isn’t above taking a few artistic liberties. “I’m working on a piece now of a


huntsman and three hounds. The huntsman is slightly out of the saddle and the hounds are quite close to the rear with one coming round the side and looking up. I said to Justin, ‘I want to put the horn in the huntsman’s hand,’ and he said, ‘Well, the hounds wouldn’t be there and he wouldn’t have the horn.’ But I have to tell that story in a very small space. It has to have drama and a sense of energy, and whether that involves putting things closer together than they would be, or making the figure’s limbs slightly longer than they actually are, is all part of the art.” Winterburn’s desire to oversee every aspect of the sculpting process has led him in unusual directions. “Now, I’m in a comfortable position because I’ve made my own foundry at my studio. Most artists farm out the casting, but in the past I’ve had some problems with that. So now, every piece I produce is not just designed and finished by me, but also cast by me and my family, too.” Sculptors such as Henderson and Winterburn face a difficult task. Most aim to capture the mood via the speed and graceful lines of the equines and canines involved. They don’t have the benefit of words or brush strokes to move their characters forward. And most — foxhunters being a traditional lot and artists being in the business of selling their work — take a strictly representational approach to their subject matter, concentrating on getting the conformation exactly right. Why do foxhunters love sculpture? Perhaps because they are used to having physical contact with their animals and the medium has the same tactile quality. But as Winterburn explains, “With sculpture, there’s no place to hide.” Christopher Oakford lives in Lexington, Kentucky, and is the author of the book, “The Iroquois Hunt: A Bluegrass Foxhunting Tradition.” He and his wife Glenye are currently writing a biography of Joseph B. Thomas.

SUMMER 2016 | 19


The Story of Sport A foxhunter paints with an eye toward the tale. BY AMY GESELL

ARTIST DANIEL CRANE, one of the United Kingdom’s leading sporting artists, isn’t painting on the day of our interview. Instead, he’s drying off after a soggy day with the Brocklesby Foxhounds, in Northeast Lincolnshire. This avid hunter, a regular with the Brocklesby, the Belvoir, and a Joint Master of the iconic Scarteen black-and-tans, takes the traditions of the hunt field into the painting studio. Crane’s work extends beyond the hunt field: He is the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment’s Resident Artist, a post he obtained just prior to the royal wedding and still has today.

20 | COVERTSIDE


Crane grew up watching hounds run across his family’s farm in Norfolk, England, a few times a year, but he didn’t start hunting until his late teens. He says the presence of the hounds was something he took for granted. “It was a while before I understood what it meant ... what it was, the pursuit.” Long before his hunting passion ignited, Crane remembers rushing home to get his homework out of the way so that he could while away the rest of the evening drawing. Anything in his immediate surroundings was a subject to which he could turn a keen eye and pencil: the family dog, a gate, a tree, a flower. He always knew that he would be an artist. Even Crane’s teachers were certain of his eventual career. “My schoolmasters raised their eyes to the heavens and declared that [my major] must be art ... because there really wasn’t anything else for me to do. It was about all I was good at,” he says. Studying at Lincoln College of Art and Design, Crane prepared himself for work in one of the few industries employing artists at the time. “When I was in school, the course of an educated artist was someone who worked in advertising and design. One would need to go to London for that and I didn’t fancy it too much.” One day, he came across hounds on a lane and decided to watch what “this was all about.” He was so appreciative of the hound work and the people involved that he began to follow regularly by car, on foot and on a bicycle. “It was an education. A long-time foot follower would warn me ‘the huntsman will draw here’ or ‘they’re likely to find there.’ I learned a great deal from those first years.”

Around the time he became involved with hounds and hunting (even learning to ride despite a horse allergy), he would draw caricatures and cartoons. The hunt provided rich material for his art. “The foot followers are a lively group and I would draw the hounds, of course.” He would sell them here and there and that bit of fun was what sparked his commercial business. PASSIONS COLLIDE

Crane paints daily. Currently he has about three canvases going at once, mostly because of commissions. His preference, however, is to work on one piece at a time. “I like to start a canvas and see it through to the end. I don’t like leaving a painting to sit. The longer a painting is idle, the more I lose the spontaneity. Getting the atmosphere right is better than having a pin-point, perfect piece. Although one always strives for perfection, you run out of inspiration if you’re running at it all day long. You want to be correct, but again, that spontaneity has to be present. Sometimes, you can’t dwell on the mistake. You have to just drive on.” Mood and atmosphere define Crane’s work, but at the heart of each canvas is the desire to tell a story. One will always find a bit of “once upon a time” in his work. His paintings depict a vaguely romantic world where you will find the cut of an old-fashioned coat or a cap rather than a modern coat or protective helmet. “If we go out and I see an instance I want to share, it may be that if I painted it very literally, the casual observer might miss a part of the story. So, as an artist trying to convey a story, I may need to enhance

All artwork by Daniel Crane, photographed by Ali Crane. LEFT: What Chance Saturday?, Oil on canvas. TOP LEFT: Marjorie Comerford-Bird, Oil on canvas. Commissioned by Marjorie, MFH of Belvoir. TOP RIGHT: Lengthening Shadows, Oil on canvas.

SUMMER 2016 | 21


what I saw to such a degree that an observer gets a proper sense of it all. So, my paintings aren’t total products of an imagination, but rather an embellishment and translation of the story of sport.” Crane’s body of work also includes commissions. “Commissions are different, of course. They are a very specific recording of any particular situation. Painting for oneself is a happy venture, as the painter only has himself to please. Commission work requires that one must understand their client and their client’s vision.” Once Crane has been given the elements his client wishes to include, he might offer advice on how to make the painting flow. It is here where the client’s desires and Crane’s own vision meet and the work becomes inspirational rather than task-oriented. “You’ll never find me having any artistic hissy fits,” Crane laughs. “After all, money is hard fought for these days and you must respect that your client has seen fit to spend it on your time and talent. I feel a responsibility to look after my client’s financial investment.

“Every piece you paint, any bit of work you do, you may be unaware at the time, but you always learn something — even if it’s not to do that thing again.” Daniel Crane has 20 years of work behind him and produces about 10 to 12 commissions and another 15 or 20 pieces for himself per year. He currently resides in Lincolnshire along with his wife, Ali. (Ali is also an avid hunter and very supportive of both hunting and the arts.) When he isn’t painting, he can be found hunting the 27,000 acres that are home to the Brocklesby Foxhounds or attending to his duties as one of the four Joint Masters of Ireland’s Scarteen. Samples of his work can be found at www.danielcrane.co.uk Amy Gesell left her home and career in Charleston, South Carolina, behind three years ago in order to reside in the countryside with the horses, hounds and huntsman of Wiggins Hounds. In addition to writing and cooking, she enjoys her positions of groom, road whip and de facto kennelman for the hunt.

ABOVE: Daniel Crane, Season Heralds, Oil on panel. Photographed by Ali Crane.

22 | COVERTSIDE


SPECIAL ADVERTISING SECTION

COURTESY BELVOIR CASTLE

A Week in Leicestershire Experience royal hospitality when you hunt the majestic grounds of England’s Belvoir Castle.

S

itting high on a ridge overlooking the counties of Leicestershire and Lincolnshire sits Belvoir Castle, the ancestral home of the Dukes of Rutland, which has been the home of this unbroken line for almost a thousand years. Belvoir, meaning “beautiful view” (and now pronounced “beaver”) is named as such by the Norman French and remains as one of the most magnificent and beautiful Regency houses in England. The Belvoir Hunt, young in comparison, was established by the third Duke of 24 | COVERTSIDE

Rutland in 1760 and is one of the very few remaining packs of purebred Old English Foxhounds in the United Kingdom. But even before the conception of the Duke’s private pack, Belvoir has long been associated with hunting — from Medieval times at Belvoir’s hunting lodge — Croxton Park, sitting in a secluded corner of the Estate, the “chase” was laid out for deer initially, then fox soon followed. With that the popularity of foxhunting laid accessible for many keen-thrusting followers and not just nobility.

In later years Belvoir was frequented by kings and queens, most notably in 1843 when Queen Victoria attended a meet at Croxton Park; it was recorded that over 800 mounted followers were in attendance. Belvoir and the Melton area hunting and social scenes would attract other notable visitors: Beau Brummell, The Duke of York, and then into the second Golden Age in the early 20th century, all three royal princes: Prince Henry, Prince George and the Prince of Wales. The “Meltonians,” as they were known, the fashionable set from London, would


SPECIAL ADVERTISING SECTION

LEFT: A beautiful hilltop view of Belvoir Castle. RIGHT: The Chinese Dressing Room at Belvoir Castle is one of the many bedrooms made available to guests. BOTTOM RIGHT: The Belvoir Hounds at the Belvoir Hunt kennels, purpose built in 1832.

COURTESY BELVOIR CASTLE

tunity, to hunt across the Belvoir’s beautiful countryside while watching a lovely pack of hounds do what they were made for ... on a great horse. When Caroline met us after the hunt with a basket of delicious goodies and drinks, it was the perfect finish to a great day.” Belvoir Castle is a mere 1 hour and 10 minutes by train to central London and all it has to offer in theatre, shopping and exhibitions. Take a short journey to Chatsworth House or Burghley Park, other stately homes in the area, which would satisfy any history, art or gardening enthusiast. Belvoir itself boasts a formidable private art collection and gardens and estate on a 16,000-acre grand scale. The current Duchess of Rutland has only just recently fulfilled Capability Brown’s vision from his original plans for Belvoir made in the 18th Century — plans which were very recently discovered in the Castle archives. Tour the estate in a horse-drawn carriage, relax in the stunning surrounds or simply take tea at Belvoir Castle — where the ritual was invented in the mid 1800s — it was said, as the ladies

COURTESY BELVOIR CASTLE

descend on Melton Mowbray in the hunting season from the early 1800s (Melton being central between the key “Shire hunts”: The Belvoir, Quorn, and Cottesmore) staying in various hunting lodges and inns. The hunting week was set out as such: Monday with the Quorn, Tuesday with the Cottesmore, Wednesday with the Belvoir, Thursday with the Cottesmore or slightly further afield — the Fernie — Friday with the Quorn and Saturday again with the Belvoir. A lively social scene quickly evolved around this typical hunting week in the Shires. It seems an obvious and natural progression that today Belvoir Castle, which has also evolved over the centuries as a successful working estate supporting many farmers, is one of the most successful commercial shoot estates in the U.K., and is now set to become the base for Belvoir Equestrian. Caroline Stewart, the secretary of The Belvoir Hunt, also manages Belvoir Equestrian and arranges bespoke equestrian and hunting tours that offer the exclusive use of either Belvoir Castle or Croxton Park Lodge. Caroline Stewart arranges every detail of your visit and believes that the winning combination of the team at Belvoir, their unparalleled, century-long hospitality and exceptional Shires hunting and riding are key to delivering a truly memorable experience. Cameron Sadler, MFH of Moore County Hounds, N.C., says about her experience, “This was a terrific oppor-

were bored waiting for their gentleman folk to return after shooting or hunting. If it’s a luxurious riding holiday with a difference, or a hunting excursion never to be forgotten, Belvoir Equestrian will craft a bespoke tour with the ultimate aim to deliver incomparable hospitality, lodgings and horses for an experience of a lifetime. Visit the Duchess of Rutland and Caroline Stewart at this year’s Virginia Hound Show on May 28-29 in Leesburg, Va., or contact Caroline Stewart at cstewart@belvoir equestrian.com for additional information. Learn more at www.belvoircastle.com. SUMMER 2016 | 25


COW SENSE E Q UA L S

HOUND SENSE From stock saddle to jumping saddle, ranch horses make the transition to foxhunting with the greatest of ease. BY HEATHER BENSON

26 | COVERTSIDE


“A HORSE THAT CAN PUT IN A TEN-HOUR DAY RIDING ACROSS COUNTRY THROUGH THE ROUGHEST OF TERRAIN, ALL IN PURSUIT OF THE QUARRY. A HORSE THAT IS MANAGEABLE

proof. We can allow guests or people new to hunting to ride these kinds of horses, and they will have a good time riding out with us. It helps us grow the sport.”

BOTH ALONE AND IN LARGE GROUPS, AT ALL SPEEDS AND ON A LOOSE REIN. A HORSE YOU CAN MOUNT

A LOGICAL AND SEAMLESS CROSSOVER

ANYWHERE, OPEN GATES FROM HORSEBACK AND

The trustworthy qualities of a typical ranch-trained horse are what launched Kail Mantle and his wife, Renee DanielsMantle, into the sport of foxhunting. The idea to register Big Sky Hounds in Three Forks, Montana, as an MFHA hunt came when the Mantles first leased some gentle ranch horses to members of the Red Rock Hounds near Reno, Nevada. “Mantle Ranch has been in the business of leasing quiet, ranch-broke horses

PLUNGE INTO THE CRAZIEST SORT OF CHAOS WITHOUT THEM FLICKING AN EAR.”

IT SOUNDS LIKE THE IDEAL FOXHUNTER, RIGHT? HE DESCRIPTION ABOVE, however, is that of an ideal ranch horse as described by his cowboy partner. As it turns out, the ranch horse and the foxhunter have more in common than you might think and crossover between these two diverse worlds is becoming more prevalent. Adren Nance, huntsman and MFH of Juan Tomas Hounds in New Mexico, knows a thing or two about both ranch horses and foxhunters. The kennels of Juan Tomas are located on his family’s 26,000-acre working cattle ranch. “The horses are the tools of our work here,” he says. “We need them to do every job possible — rope a calf or catch a steer one week and then change tack and go hunt the next. We use the same horses for all jobs on the ranch year-round.” Ranch horses across the United States are still an important part of the work of raising cattle. While four-wheelers and even helicopters often assist with some aspects of range work, horses are still

LEFT: Atlas, a South Dakota-bred Frenchman’s Guy Quarter Horse gelding, roading hounds. RIGHT: Kail Mantle of Mantle Ranch moves horses on Atlas. PHOTOS: RENEE DANIELS-MANTLE AND VAL WESTOVER PHOTOGRAPHY

the preferred tool for most ranchers. A well-trained horse is a capital asset to a rancher as are his pickup, his fencing and his cattle. For the working ranch horse, days are often long, sometimes 10 to 14 hours during the busy seasons of the spring and fall, and the work strenuous. A well-trained ranch horse may spend half a day traveling alone through rough country, hunting a stray cow, and the rest of the day working with two dozen other horses and riders sorting pairs (weaning calves away from the mother cows). Working dogs underfoot, truck traffic, and riding into rough country are all part of a typical day’s work. “Our horses do the cattle work in the spring and fall, hunt all winter and even play polo in the summer,” Nance explains. “They need to rope, they need to jump. They need to be able to cover some wild country whether they are chasing cows or coyotes. There is always a purpose when we get on them and they become our working partners on the job.” Nance explains that the hunt benefits from having a number of well-trained ranch horses available. “When you put the kind of miles you put in on a ranch horse, after you’ve roped 50 calves and seen lots of wet saddle blankets, you know a lot about the horse and that they are generally bomb-

Ranch horse Captain Steubben doubles as Juan Tomas Huntsman Adren Nance’s field hunter.

OZANA STURGEON

T

...

to dude ranches, big game hunters and summer camps for decades,” says DanielsMantle. “A member of the Red Rock Hounds happened to own a hotel in Three Forks and they needed horses for an away meet. We had never hunted before but the member gave us a brief description of what they wanted — quiet horses that could cover rough country and keep their rider safe — and we were able to supply them.” That initial foray into leasing horses to visiting foxhunters has led the Mantles to establish a hunt based at their ranch (see sidebar). Daniels-Mantle says that the qualities she has always sought for the typical Mantle Ranch string are the same as SUMMER 2016 | 27


CATHY CARR TABER

what she seeks now for foxhunting. “Typically, you just cannot take an arena and one-acre paddock horse into big country — you’ll blow his mind,” she shares. “Our riders are aiming for a trouble-free ride. We buy most of our horses direct from working ranches. A ranch horse is used to busy livestock, used to big groups of riders working and has the know-how on rough terrain. A group of 50 horses running across country is nothing new for them.” ... “I WANT A HORSE THAT LOOKS THROUGH THE BRIDLE AND GOES FORWARD. I WANT THEM TO STAY IN THE GAIT I PUT THEM IN WHILE ON A LOOSE REIN. I LIKE A GOOD, FAST WALK ON A HORSE AND I WANT THEM TO PAY ATTENTION TO WHERE THEY PUT THEIR FEET. AND I WANT THEM QUIET, QUIET, QUIET — I DON’T HAVE TIME FOR A HORSE THAT SHIES.” These are the words that Daphne Wood, MFH of Live Oak Hounds in Mon28 | COVERTSIDE

ticello, Florida, uses to describe her ideal hunting partner. The description is identical to that of an ideal ranch horse as given by Dale Simanton of the Gate to Great offtrack Thoroughbred ranch horse retraining program. Gate to Great also happens to have been the source for Wood’s newest horse in her hunt string, Swingn Slew. Swingn Slew may look like a typical hunt horse — a tall, dark bay Thoroughbred build on classic lines — but between retiring from the racetrack at age five and hunting with Live Oak, he spent two years with Simanton at his ranch near the Black Hills of South Dakota chasing cows and branding calves. ALWAYS FORWARD

“My goal with our horses is for them to do anything I ask of them and do it willingly,” explains Simanton. “I never know what we might come across when we’re out working cattle and I need them to just do the job in front of them without question.” When former racehorses enter the Gate to Great program, they come with few of the skills that either a ranch horse or a foxhunter needs. After leaving the program, they come with a “Ph.D in real

work,” as Simanton puts it. At the ranch, they become desensitized to everything from ropes to working cattle dogs to riding through a milling herd of cattle. The horses learn to handle themselves in terrain that ranges from rough, timbered mountains to wide open prairies. While running down errant cows, they learn to jump whatever is in front of them, be it an irrigation ditch or a downed pine tree. In short, they pick up the basic skills that make a transition to the life of a foxhunter relatively easy. Wood’s experience with Swingn Slew backs that up. “I watched Slew ride with us the last year (with former owner Gretchen Bickel) and he took to hunting so well, so quickly, that at first I was sure he had to be aced or be a ringer,” she laughs. “I rode Thoroughbreds for most of my life but recently had felt I needed more of a Volvo and less of a Maserati. But Slew changed that for me and I am proud to once more be riding a Thoroughbred. He can get in touch with his Thoroughbred side when we need to really gallop, and come back down and show me his quiet, steady ranch-horse side the moment I ask.”


FAR LEFT: MFH Daphne Wood pictured on Swingn Slew next to Huntsman Dale Barnett after a fabulous day’s hunting on Mayhew Plantation. LEFT: Swingn Slew shows off his ranch horse abilities with former owner Dale Simanton, in Newell, South Dakota.

did his job like he’d been doing it every day of his life. He seems to understand what the job is all about and enjoys it.” DOROTHY SIMANTON

...

L

IVE OAK isn’t the only hunt bearing witness to the ease with which ranch-trained Thoroughbreds transition to hunting. Ranch-trained Thoroughbred ex-racehorses from the program can be found in hunts across the east, including three that recently joined the staff at Long Run Hounds in Simpsonville, Kentucky. “As a whip, I need a horse that is independent and can go out alone,” explains Marilyn Glattstein, a whipper-in for Long Run. “Not all whip horses come like that — they don’t want to leave the herd and it takes time to train them and some fail out of it. But both of these horses were okay from day one with whatever I asked.” Indeed, the training time Glattstein put into her former ranch horses was nearly non-existent. She explains that Special Al only walked hounds twice before she had to whip from him when her other horses managed to both throw shoes the same week. “He was perfect, I mean perfect,” she says. “On our first real hunt, I heard the first field come galloping and I thought to myself ‘Oh my God, I’m on a racehorse, he’ll gallop off.’ But he just stood there and

THERE IS NO DIFFERENCE BETWEEN HOUND AND COW

Glattstein’s experience in having her ex-ranch horse thrive in the job of a staff horse is not a singular one. Renee DanielsMantle shares, “I think there is something about a cow-bred horse that makes a great staff horse. A horse that likes to work cattle is usually going to make a great partner for a huntsman or a whip; they participate and are interested in the hunt.” “It’s like getting the perfect whip horse and needing no extra training,” says Glattstein of her two ranch-trained Thoroughbreds. “They understand the hounds and what you are trying to do; it’s exactly like cattle to them. They are desensitized to everything, even cracking a whip the first time didn’t bother them because they had already been roped off of.” “Cow sense equals hound sense,” says Huntsman Nance. “I truly believe these ranch horses with natural cow sense understand what they are doing. They watch the hounds. They know when something has gone to ground. They truly get the game.” Heather Benson has worn many hats: horsewoman, marketing guru, corporate executive, and racetrack manager. She’s now managing partner of Back Forty Media and Marketing, a full-service consulting firm that manages marketing and media portfolios for agribusiness and equine industry customers. www.backfortymarketing.com

BIG SKY HOUNDS BREATHES NEW LIFE INTO MONTANA HUNTING SCENE WHEN KAIL MANTLE AND HIS WIFE, Renee Daniels-Mantle, leased their first horses to members of Red Rock Hounds for an away meet in nearby Three Forks, Montana, they never foresaw a day where they would be hosting a hunt meet of their own. Big Sky Hounds, registered with the MFHA for the 2015-2016 season, began with just two hounds in 2013. “It has been popular from the get-go. We had 30 to 40 people nearly every time we went out the very first year,” says Daniels-Mantle. “We are lucky because we have 120 horses on hand that we can put anyone on to come and join us. This allows us to bring in new people and get them excited about the sport.” Big Sky typically hunts September through April of each year despite cold temperatures. “We might take a break in January this year, when it gets really cold — you know, ... 20 or 30 below,” laughs Daniels-Mantle. It is “function first and fashion last” to cope with the unique conditions in which Big Sky typically hunts. DanielsMantle shares that nearly half their riders ride in western or Australian stock saddles. “It’s truly the Wild, Wild West out here. When you are coming down the side of an ice-covered mountain in blizzard conditions, you want to be sure you are going stay in the saddle and stay warm.” She notes that some days the temperature is so cold that most people head out to hunt while wearing insulated Carhartt overalls. Big Sky Hounds hunts every Wednesday and Sunday. More information can be found at www.montana horses.com/Fox_Hunting.php SUMMER 2016 | 29


Last Chance Talent ’11 celebrates the win with her team: Marcia Brody (LCH whipper-in), Jason Daisey (LCH), Kira Koval, LILI WYKLE

Roy Good (LCH whipper-in), Carin Golze (LCH), and Taylor Bullen (LCH).

A Cinderella Story

LAST CHANCE TALENT ’11 BEATS 62 HOUNDS TO WIN THE SEDGEFIELD BY FRED BERRY, MFH

E

ASTER WEEKEND, 13 packs came to the Sandhills of North Carolina to compete in Sedgefield Hunt’s annual performance trial held on a 9,000-acre bird dog competition grounds. It is an all-star game of great hounds — the top five from each participating hunt. Every year George Harne brings his hounds, but they never win; in fact, they never even score. His hounds are all retired bitches from other hunts, hence the pack’s name: the Last Chance Hounds. He gives the old gals a season or two, and then finds homes for them. George comes to Sedgefield for the pure fun of it. This year was extra big because he was the reigning Cutest Huntsman (CH) — an award given by the crowd on Saturday night. 30 | COVERTSIDE

But, eight days before the competition George was in a bad car crash. He fractured three vertebrae in his neck and had to be airlifted to Baltimore Hospital. Luckily he wasn’t paralyzed, but he needed a major operation. While waiting for the operation, George made it clear that his hounds were going to Sedgefield, no question about it. So, because they love him, his people made it happen. George’s pack this year included Talent ’11, an American bitch from the Potomac Hunt. Friday night is a big welcoming party for old friends and new. And there is a Calcutta where folks can “buy” a hound in hopes of winning a pot of money. Doug Davis, one of the road judges, does double duty as an auctioneer, and Friday night he sold 10 hounds


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FRED BERRY

The annual Sedgefield Performance Trials attracts 100 riders from 13 different hunts. LEFT: Talent (#26) at work; and George Harne gives a thumbs up from his hospital bed when hearing of

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Talent’s success.

at auction. A tip about Talent ’11 came from Larry Pitts, Potomac’s recently retired huntsman. Larry, who is always willing to make a pronouncement, says to the crowd, “Somebody ought to buy that bitch.” Marie LeBaw, one of the Last Chance support team, took Larry’s advice. It was a good investment. DAY ONE

The hunt: The first day of a performance trial can be sloppy, and our first day was a classic: The hounds don’t know each other, and don’t know for whom they are supposed to be working. And, some think they are in Las Vegas and that all the rules of good behavior don’t apply. Luckily, the judges were able to get some scores. At the end of three hours Ed Fry, the chief judge, called an end to the day’s competition, and most of the judges went to the clubhouse to download their scores. But it was then, after the hunt officially ended, that the best hunting began. The hounds found a good line and worked it beautifully, steadily trailing, solving the mystery. And even though the trial was over for the day, Tony Leahy, the huntsman, could not bring himself to stop. None of the competing huntsmen wanted to stop either — they had come to hunt. And it was then that the hounds gelled; they became a pack. There was hope for tomorrow. 32 | COVERTSIDE

The party: Saturday night involved two big events: the scores, and the Cutest Huntsman “contest.” The scores from the first day had most of the hunts on the board in some category, but the crowd really cheered when Last Chance’s Talent ’11 earned third in the Hunting category. Yea, George, one of your hounds got a ribbon! For overall points, Talent ’11 was 13th. A real old-timer and sentimental favorite, Sedgefield’s Mailbox ’09, was No. 1. The Cutest Huntsman crown is a Sedgefield tradition. The first CH was Lili Wykle, of the Stonewall Hunt, whose intensity led the other huntsmen to create the title and give it to her. The next year Lili orchestrated a “pageant” to select her successor. Now each year the queen comes up with something ridiculous all the other huntsmen must do, and the crowd chooses the winner. And all huntsmen, whether or not they are competitors, must be in the line-up. The event is universally loved by the crowd; not so much by the huntsmen. Some flee, some balk, some hide, but most man up and surrender, knowing the crowd will not be denied. And once in a while the chance to be cute and feminine strikes a chord in a huntsman, and his soul is released. Unfortunately, George, this year’s CH, was in the hospital, so his well-laid plan had to be executed by a surrogate. Roy Good had big ugly shoes to fill, but he did it. George sent down a CD, a boom box and cryptic instructions, and Roy made up the rest. The huntsmen were to dance — in groups of six. Two finalists were selected from each group by official experts on cute: three teenage girls. And then there was a dance-off. It was ugly, and if there is video, it should be destroyed. But the crowd went wild. And, we learned something about Robert Taylor, huntsman of the Goshen Hounds: he wears dresses. Robert unleashed himself, and is now the Cutest Huntsman. The news of the evening was carried to George by Alasdair Storer, huntsman of New Market-Middletown and team Harne member


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who stayed in Maryland. By then George was on a ventilator, but his eyes smiled at the report. DAY TWO

The hunt: After a few bumps in the road, it all came together. While Tony was drawing a fresh cover, a gray fox was viewed half a mile away. So Tony gathered his hounds, and we hacked to the holler. With over 100 people on horses and in trucks watching, Tony made the play of the day: He stopped and made sure all the hounds were together and with him, that they each had a chance. Then he eased into the area of the view, and he turned it over to the hounds — the all-star team. And they knocked it out of the park. The hounds trailed almost a mile to a thick creek bottom, and when one hound spoke in the cover, they all piled in. And they roared. The fox fled with the hounds coming on fast behind. Two hours later the hounds were still running, but the horses weren’t. They were cooked. At some point the fox had morphed into a coyote, and 9,000 acres wasn’t big enough to hold it. It ran for the hills. During that epic two-hour run, and before the main pack left the country, the judges collected lots of scores, mostly full cry scores where hounds win points for running at the front. And that is why it is so impressive that Talent ’11, an old bitch from a pack of has-beens won Top Hound of the trial. Maybe she wanted to make George feel good. He should — the Top Hound cap looks good on him. Fred Berry is huntsman and Joint Master of the Sedgefield Hunt, and a lawyer.

Huntsman Tony Leahy with the pack. Day two had the hounds running for two hours.

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ASK THE KENNELMAN

Starting from Scratch Midland Fox Hounds Kennelman Mike Gottier learns from the best. BY AMY GESELL

Covertside: What are your specific duties as a kennelman? Gottier: It’s my job to keep the kennels clean, feed the hounds, medicate them if needed, make repairs at the kennels and keep up with mowing, weeding, things like that. I help with walking out hounds and am involved in whelping the bitches. During the summer, I’ll clean up the trails at Midland, repair coops and basically anything else I’m asked to do. It’s pretty hands-on! I’m happy to be learning about hunting from the ground up.

Covertside: What is it like to work for such an historic hunt? How has this job affected you professionally? Gottier: I really feel privileged to have this job. I get to see the result of the years of work that Mr. [Ben] Hardaway has put into these amazing bloodlines. You have to study and appreciate the bloodlines. It’s fascinating! This job has given me a deep appreciation for 36 | COVERTSIDE

the work that was put into developing these hounds and an appreciation for the amount of work it takes from everyone involved to keep things running smoothly. Thanks to the graciousness of the huntsman, the Master and members, I’ve been able to go out with the hounds and whip-in some this season as well. My past experience has been in country that isn’t quite so large and the quarry was mostly fox. Here, we have a lot of country and coyotes. Because of that, I’ve definitely had to improve my horsemanship. Everything happens faster when you’re running coyotes, so I’ve not only had to learn, but learn fast! It’s challenging, but I think we learn a lot when we are challenged.

Covertside: You graduated from the MFHA Professional Development Program (PDP) last year. How has that helped you in your current position? Gottier: Experience is a great teacher, but the PDP helped me immensely. It gave me

JOAN GOTTIER

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ONSIDERING that Mike Gottier’s parents met at a Thanksgiving foxhunt, it would seem that he was literally born to hunt. Whipping-in as a youngster to the basset pack of Skycastle French Hounds and whipping-in and working as acting huntsman for Kimberton, Gottier’s background in hunting with hounds is varied. For the past year, he has worked as kennelman for the fabled Midland Fox Hounds ... and he’s loving every minute of it.

Hound sense comes naturally to Mike Gottier,

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BETTER HUNTING

Staff horses and their people must be great partners to ensure good

ELISABETH HARPHAM

sport and the safety of all involved.

A Rare Breed

The perfect staff horse is a partner, a hunter himself and an endless well of energy. BY SUSAN HOFFMAN

A brave jumper. A good brain. Soundness. Speed.

W

HAT ARE the qualities of a good staff horse? Where do you find the perfect one? Well, as we all know, a perfect horse is as rare as hen’s teeth. When one does come along, a hunt holds onto it like grim death. The good staff horse 40 | COVERTSIDE

knows as much about hunting as its human partner, sometimes more. The really exceptional ones relish a long, hard run chasing hounds and quarry as much as they despise a blank day. They have gas left in the tank even when other horses and riders have called it quits for the day. While not irreplaceable, they’re worth their weight in gold. That’s why “made” staff horses command a handsome sum of money if and when they do come on the market, which hardly ever happens, because hunts are loathe to part with them — which brings us back full circle.

I SAY TO-MAY-TO, YOU SAY TO-MAH-TO

“Perfect” means different things to different staff positions and to different hunts, too. Mr. Stewart’s Cheshire Foxhounds in eastern Pennsylvania is known for fast chases over hill and dale, clearing large jumps ranging from chicken coops and logs to post-and-rail and board fences. Legendary steeplechase rider and trainer Louis “Paddy” Neilson III is now in his 13th season of whippingin for this pack. “A horse that’s naturally sound, a good jumper, fast and able to keep up with the hounds over an extended

distance,” is how he describes the whip’s perfect horse. A good goer willing to work in a variety of footings, over any kind of jump, is also important. “I need a horse that’s mentally and physically capable of going over or through any kind of terrain, whether it’s bogs, brush under their feet or over, a coop covered with honeysuckle,” Neilson adds. TRAINING IS KEY

Neilson emphasizes the horse’s need to understand the peripherals that go with the job of whipping-in, including not flinching or spooking when a


whip is cracked, never kicking a hound, and being a good shipper. A lot of this is a matter of training, exposure and patience. He says he likes to finish the schooling himself. “The best ones aren’t necessarily ‘made’ when I buy them. I’ve done well with horses that have run hurdles because they’re really good jumpers but maybe aren’t the fastest.” He says a lot of off-thetrack Thoroughbreds (OTTBs) that are naturally confident and sound, which are usually available at a reasonable price, also make good whip horses. Neilson emphasizes the need for a horse he can count on when he’s alone “out there,” no matter what. “He can’t make a big deal out of riding past tractors or cattle.” He can’t be a nervous sort, either. Sometimes you want to jog quietly to a fence, other times you want to gallop up to it. “Sometimes you need to be practically motionless and other times you want to go like a rocket ship.” HANDSOME IS AS HANDSOME DOES

Neilson reminds us that being a whip’s horse is not a beauty contest; neither are staff jobs. That’s why practicality is the bottom line for Elizabeth “Lili” Wykle, huntsman and MFH for Stonewall Hounds in central Virginia. In addition to all the universal mandatories like soundness, good feet, good bone and athleticism, Wykle prefers to hunt dark horses. She says, “I love the traditions of foxhunting, but I am the sole person who gets the horses and hounds ready for the hunt.

Having no help makes for a very busy morning, so I need to be as practical as possible. That’s why no gray horses for me; they’re just too hard to keep clean with everything else I have to do.” Unlike many hunt staff — both male and female — who think bigger is better, Wykle likes horses that are no taller than 16.1 hands, again for very practical reasons. “Even though I’m 5’ 8” and fit, I must be able to get on and off easily to be with my hounds, or to do trail clearing, or simply to be prepared for whatever else I encounter in our countryside. I also like to get off my horse to greet the landowners I meet while out hunting. I’m more likely than the field to interact with the landowner, and I like to talk to them eye to eye, not towering above them, as a show of respect. That’s a lot easier to do on a horse that’s not too tall, and they’re just as handy,” she comments. Wykle finds her staff horses through a variety of sources. Like Neilson, she’s fond of steeplechasers and OTTBs. She doesn’t rule out Thoroughbred crosses, either. One of her best staff horses is a 19-year-old Thoroughbred cross that is still going strong. “I also look to our membership for new horses. In fact, last year I bought a Thoroughbred/Selle Français cross from an apprentice whipper-in,” Wykle says.

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stupid are automatic knock-outs for her when she’s searching for the perfect horse. “I can deal with hyperness and even a bucker, but I don’t like excessive shying or crow-hopping. How a horse handles its nerves is really important to me. I want a ‘reader’ who I’ll allow to look and pause, versus a ‘reactor’ who will look and shy.” Horses that are excessively herd-bound or barn sour are also poor choices for a staff job, although she thinks they might make fine field horses. FIT FOR THE JOB PA HIC #PA9550

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A level head also comes in handy when alligators cross your path. Yes, alligators. “What works in Virginia won’t necessarily work in Florida,” says Elizabeth “Liz” Howard,

whipper-in and honorary secretary, Palm Beach Hounds, Florida. Palm Beach’s staff horses must be extremely brave when encountering new flora and fauna native to the Sunshine State. “We have a lot of soft, swampy terrain and black, oozy mud. Even some of our palm trees look funny to horses that come from up north. When I’m in the market for a new staff horse, I look for one that’s inquisitive about these strange things, but they can’t be spooky,” she explains. A perfect staff horse for Palm Beach must also be part dolphin. In addition to the aforementioned swamps, the territory is peppered with wetlands and lakes. “Our staff horses must like water. We’re standing in it and riding


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TIFFANY DANIELLE

Liz Howard “My mare Amy. She trusts me and I trust her. If she tells me a swamp or canal is too deep to venture through, I’ll trust her sixth sense.”

through it all the time.” Needless to mention, they also must be highly heat-tolerant to cope with 90 degree temperatures and 90 percent humidity. “Everyone thinks Thoroughbreds are the perfect staff horse, but you can’t just ship down here in winter and start hunting them. They need time to acclimate,” she explains. She says some also can’t hold onto shoes in the wet conditions. Howard echoes the other traits mentioned by Neilson and Wykle, plus a few more. “A brave heart is important, as is a kind eye. They must have a good brain with a sense of humor, too, meaning they need a real ‘okay, I trust you if you say so, so let’s go’ attitude, even if we just turned back and forth over the same trail a few

times before.” She finds her staff prospects at many places including racetracks, preferring the hard-to-find, English, thicker-boned Thoroughbreds. She also likes draft crosses that aren’t too heavy. She relies on word of mouth and her connections in the hunt community. “I find a lot of them through friends, and I prefer to train and finish them myself,” Howard says. One of the only habits that will eliminate a staff horse prospect is rooting, because “I don’t want my arms ripped out of my sockets at checks. They must be still and quiet so I can hear hounds in our dense country,” she explains. All three huntsmen keep a keen eye open for new staff horses all year around, because you never know when a good one will come along. And, they’re just as receptive to mares as they are to geldings. Howard sums it up: “It’s all about the partnership. They need to be well suited, both mentally and physically, and keen to the job. They need to think like you think, and want to follow the hounds.” In fact, she says that one of the only times she has ever parted ways with her horse is when her mare heard the hounds turn in the distance and changed direction with them before Howard did. So, perhaps the perfect staff horse also needs to understand that our eyes and ears aren’t as reliable as theirs. Susan Hoffman hunts with Andrews Bridge Foxhounds in Pennsylvania. She is a frequent Covertside contributor.

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SUMMER 2016 | 43


FARE & FLASK

from LOWCOUNTRY HUNT, Charleston, S.C.

Todd’s perlou, cooked in a cauldron over an open fire, pairs wonderfully

MICHAEL STERN

MICHAEL STERN

with cornbread muffins.

LOWCOUNTRY HUNT’S CULINARY FLAIR Hunt members dine like royalty for their closing meet. BY MICHAEL STERN

T

he closing meet of Lowcountry Hunt’s 10th season started with Pimm’s Cup Lemonade and Chris Bates’ savory sausage balls passed around to some 70 mounted hunters. The fixture was Airy Hall, a majestic 1600-acre plantation along the Ashepoo River. Following the hunt, landowner Buck Limehouse hosted breakfast under a warm March sky on the grounds of the property’s slate-roof Georgian brick home. The meal was a spectacular

South Carolina feast, a group effort that started with Paul Buck’s hors d’oeuvre table of woodsmoked salmon on toast points and three different dips and ended with two kinds of trifle made by Theresa Prior, plus banana pudding, apple crisp, and cute little cupcakes frosted to look like fox faces. As for the main event, extra-large dinner plates were barely big enough to hold everything in the quintessential regional meal prepared by Mary Foster and Todd Cummings. On the side were big, soft collard leaves flavored

Fare & Flask is sponsored by Huntsman’s Premium Bloody Mary Mix.

44 | COVERTSIDE

with neckbones, macaroni and cheese that Mary boasted held “50 pounds of cheese and lots of cream in every pan,” green beans ribboned with pimentos, cornbread muffins cooked in bacon grease with bacon jam to doll them up, and the star of the show, Todd’s perlou. I heard some fellow diners refer to their perlou simply as “the rice,” an unpretentious label for what is in fact a grand signature dish of the Lowcountry, the rice heavily larded with pulled chicken, smoked ham, sausage, and a hail of spice. Todd’s perlou was the last to arrive at breakfast, the huge iron pot towed to the meal on

a flatbed trailer ... toted by to two strong men to a cinderblock pedestal next to the buffet table. “There’s 112 pounds of meat in there,” Foster says, “and that’s not counting the rice.” It was kaleidoscopically delicious. One jolly culinary idyll of the day came midway through the hunt in a broad hayfield — a break informally hosted by members of the fifth field. A convoy of pickup trucks arrived, loaded with hunt followers bringing coolers full of drinks, plus massive amounts of food. Tailgates were lowered, sandwiches arrayed, champagne uncorked, and festivities began with the arrival of the four fields (including one especially for juniors). For nearly an hour, food and drinks were enjoyed by all (and even by one sly mare who managed to sidle over to a tailgate and lip-lock a ham and cheese croissant before her rider noticed). The highlight of snack time was made by Paul A. Fields and offered by his wife, Ruth: pimento cheese and a crisp slice of pickled okra wrapped in ham — an inspired chord of local flavors, presented as little bite-size cylinders that really do look like their name: Lowcountry sushi. Michael Stern has co-authored over forty books about American food and popular culture, and also created roadfood.com.


the recipe

LOWCOUNTRY SUSHI

MICHAEL STERN

Paul makes his pimento cheese using Irish cheddar. This recipe works with any favorite pimento cheese, so long as it is not runny.

INGREDIENTS: • 1 jar pickled okra • Danish ham, sliced thin

• Pimento cheese spread (see recipe below)

DIRECTIONS: SPREAD pimento cheese about 1/3” thick on the sliced ham.

REFRIGERATE 2-3 hours or until firm.

LAY pickled okra on top and ROLL each ham slice around the pimento cheese and okra to create a tube about 1 inch in diameter.

REMOVE from refrigerator and use a very sharp knife to cut the tubes into 1/2” to 3/4” cylinders. SERVE IMMEDIATELY, cut side up on the serving dish.

PAUL FIELDS’ PIMENTO CHEESE SPREAD: • 1 pound shredded cheddar cheese

• 1/3 teaspoon garlic powder

• 1 small jar diced pimentos

• 1/2 teaspoon black pepper

• 1/4 pound cream cheese

• Hot sauce to taste

• 1/2 cup mayonnaise

Mix all ingredients and refrigerate several hours.

MICHAEL STERN

• 1/3 teaspoon onion powder

SUMMER 2016 | 45


FOXHUNTER’S LIBRARY

A Cautionary Tale and A Tail on the Trail BY GLENYE CAIN OAKFORD

FOXHUNTING WITH MEADOW BROOK By Judith Tabler 303 pages Lanham, Maryland The Derrydale Press

IF YOU THINK for a moment that it might be dull reading about a single, defunct, American hunt whose original country is now overtaken by the most zealous development, I give you the ultimate rebuttal: Judith Tabler’s engrossing “Foxhunting with Meadow Brook.” Published

HUNTING BY SCENT By H. M. Budgett 122 pages London, England Eyre and Spottiswoode

in February, this history is both highly entertaining and poignant, given that the Meadow Brook originally hunted around Hempstead, New York, a Long Island town not far from Manhattan. The hunt was, as Tabler describes, “doomed from its 1881 conception,” thanks to its proximity to the metropolis and its situation on valuable development property. “The wonder is not that this foxhunt ceased in 1971, but how it survived so long amid housing developments, crisscrossing highways, and supersize shopping malls,” Tabler

writes. “The Meadow Brook Hounds stubbornly resisted extinction, because the people who rode to these hounds worked so hard to keep it going.” It’s these determined, sporting characters who really bring the book to life. They include some grand names — Belmont, Hitchcock, Roosevelt, Keene, Whitney, and Travers, among numerous other notable surnames — and the early hunt members’ exploits tell as much about the era as they do about hunting. In the

1890s, under Thomas Hitchcock Sr.’s Mastership, a group of hot-blooded young thrusters formed “a club within a club,” calling themselves “The Bulldags.” “Their hunting days were dominated by a single rule: Any member who could not keep up with the Meadow Brook Drag,

THIS HUNTING CLASSIC by English MFH Hubert Maitland Budgett amply illustrates the lengths to which hunters will go in order to understand that most mysterious and elusive participant on the hunt field: the scent.

“Hunting by Scent” is not a coffee table book, but the first edition is beautifully illustrated by Lionel Edwards, which will make it of interest to those foxhunters who couldn’t care less about Budgett’s exhaustive scientific investigations, which involved two serious-minded bloodhounds, Ledburn Baal and Hopeful of Hambrook. Huntsmen, on the other hand, will likely devour Budgett’s theories and experiments regarding the exact behavior of scent on the ground and in the air, which do provide a lot of food for thought. And even if you have only a passing interest in the topic, you’ll doubtless be impressed (and entertained) by Budgett’s fanatical thoroughness in testing his theories, including the idea that what hounds actually track are particles and oils left

behind by the quarry touching the ground — in other words, a physical scent trail on the ground — rather than scent in the air as the air rushes over a passing body. Convinced that a man would be untrackable if he did not touch the ground, Budgett tested the bloodhounds’ abilities in tracking runners on glass-capped stilts, in tall wooden sandals, and clad in riding boots and rain gear secured with rubber bands to prevent any skin particle from escaping. But the bloodhounds confounded him by often picking up the trail despite Budgett’s attempts to eliminate it. “Even when these precautions were taken, the bloodhound picked out the trail with perfect ease and appeared to have learnt by experience how to follow the scent left by the stilts

Original drawing by Lionel Edwards from “Hunting by Scent.”

46 | COVERTSIDE


unless he had two falls or was badly hurt by one, had to buy dinner for the whole club at the end of the day,” Tabler explains. The celebrated bon vivants are fun to read about, and over successive generations, their efforts to protect the hunt from the swelling tide of development are nothing short of heroic — and, sadly, all too familiar to many MFHs and hunt boards today. But they are not the only characters of interest. There is, for example, Huntsman Thomas Allison, a carpenter from Virginia who once leaped off his horse and commandeered a railway handcar, pumping the handle as fast as he could to follow his hounds as they raced down a train track. The pack caught the fox, and, quoting a witness, Tabler writes that Allison returned to the members of the

field the same way he had left, but “he came pumping back more leisurely, waving his fox, with the pack trotting behind.” The hunting historian Jan Blan Van Urk once described Allison as one who “could find a fox, put his pack on the line, and show good sport on a crowded metropolitan subway.” Today, alas, that is about where Allison would have to hunt, if he were covering the old Meadow Brook territory. Behind all of these engaging sketches of hunting men and women, their horses and their hounds, a mournful note lingers of a hunt and a countryside done in by development. Thank heavens Tabler has seen to it to collect and help preserve this slice of hunting history, which now serves partly as collective memory and partly as cautionary tale.

and foot-boards,” he reports, in some apparent frustration. “I must confess that at this point my faith was badly shaken.” But Budgett continued his investigations, and some of his chapter subheadings will ring familiar to hunters who still wonder what variables affect scent and why: “Conditions under which scent is good or bad … Direction of air currents on which scent is carried … Relative temperatures of air and ground … Effect of sun … High wind … Woodlands … Ploughland … Snow and frost … Hound’s knowledge of scent conditions … Meteorological considerations … The use of smoke to determine movements of air currents … Experiments with anemometer fan and spider’s web.” “Hunting by Scent” reads a bit like equal parts mad science

and ingenuity, and there is a good deal of useful and enlightening material there. Huntsmen and dedicated hound followers in particular will sympathize with Budgett’s quest — and appreciate, perhaps, that he did all of these experiments so that they don’t have to! But Budgett himself hoped that hunters following him would take up his torch. “It is evident that the action of scent oils on moist surfaces needs thorough investigation,” he writes in the book’s final lines, “and I hope that this work may perhaps pave the way to further discoveries connected with the fascinating subject of scent.” Glenye Cain Oakfoard is a freelance writer and frequent Covertside contributor. She and her husband Christopher are currently writing a biography of Joseph B. Thomas.

SUMMER 2016 | 47


LAST RUN OF THE DAY Painting by James Dunthorne

James Dunthorne, 1. (1765). John Sidey and his Hounds at a Farmhouse near Hadleigh, Suffolk.

On the Roof According to the note on the back of this lovely James Dunthorne painting, the incident painted actually did take place. It was not uncommon for a fox to leap to, and even take sanctuary on, a roof. The house in Suffolk, England, in the neighborhood of Hadleigh, no longer stands. The man on the gray horse is John Sidey, of Pudney, Bures Hamlet, who is presumed to be the owner of this private pack. —ADAPTED FROM British Sporting and Animal Paintings 1655-1867. The Paul Mellon Collection. (p. III), Millbank, London: Tate Gallery Publications Department, 1978.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Do you have a photo, story or essay to share with Covertside? Send high-resolution, 300 dpi photographs or essays to editor@covertside.net, or snail mail to Covertside, 2329 Lakeview Rd. SW, Albuquerque, NM 87105 48 | COVERTSIDE


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Peter Pejacsevich 540-270-3835 Scott Buzzelli 540-454-1399

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Covertside Summer 2016  

The official publication of the Masters of Foxhounds Association, Covertside is the Magazine of Mounted Foxhunting.

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