Thank you to all, the riders and the volunteers, who helped make yesterday’s Hunter Pace a huge success. A small green chair has been found with no owner. If this is yours, please let me know.
Labor Day, that social dividing line between summer and fall, is now behind us. Our hunter pace proved successful thanks to a wonderful, as always, course by Sue Satterfield and all you volunteers. We hoped to go out Saturday at the pace but Mother Nature dumped raindrops, lots of them. So the pace moved to Sunday, September 3. Those of us committed to Warrenton Horse Show, scheduled for Sunday, attended while others rode in the pace.
Julia Scheibel won a fifth-place ribbon over fences for those under 30. (Hope I got the age right). Then Julia and Mary put in a solid performance in the pairs class. The level of competition, per usual, was high. Good as they were, no ribbon. Kim Eastep rode over fences in her age division. She was one step ahead of a running fit, but when she rode into the ring she did so well, seemed to bid goodbye to the nerves and enjoyed herself.
Our hunt team did not go out until 12:30 PM. Hard to believe, but classes were jammed. Again, no pulled rails, no balks, no dismounts. A good round but no ribbon.
I hasten to add that our three ladies rode on Sally Lamb’s borrowed horses, B.A. Malone, Chloe, and I do not know the name of the third. To knock out that level of performance on horses one had barely ridden speaks of their ability and showmanship.
Sally Lamb not only lent us these horses, she shod them, allowed the girls to practice at her farm. She would accept not one penny, prepared to cuss me like a dog if I offered. Her motto is: I love foxhunting. I want everyone to love foxhunting. I sure do and I love Sally, too. They don’t come any better or with a better sense of humor.
I gave Sally a small gift from 1890, not anything equal to her gifts to us. She was so moved she said, “Now you’re going to make me cry.” Well we both got a little misty but that’s okay among longtime buddies.
But Sally’s kindness to us underscores what makes foxhunting far more than foxhunting.
Kindness from our gang included Amy Burke and Kathleen King grooming, seeing to tack, calming whoever needed calming (Kim, again), doing all manner of scut work. Kristin Jones also worked her buns off, smiling throughout. Page Turner drove up and joined us on the rail as Mark and Karen Catron brought foldout chairs. So did Beth Panilaitis.
Ellie Wood Baxter sat in the grandstands with B.J. Koral and Jane Fogelman. There was another FHC lady in the stands and I’m shaky on her name. A heavy dose of nostalgia swept over us as Ellie Wood had ridden at Warrenton and the other great shows for most of her soon to be 96 years (September 10). She won at Upperville in her 80s, I believe.
She truly is one of the greatest amateur riders this country has ever produced. And even though blind she’ll mount up and ride on flat ground with one of “the girls” riding alongside. Here’s to another 96 if she’s so chooses.
Our participation at Warrenton or any of the shows with foxhunter classes rolls in a tide of compliments, friendships and invitations to other hunts. Go to the shows, go to those hunts to which you are invited. You learn from every hunt you ride with and of course, you invite them to ORH.
As an aside, whenever I go to a show, I gravitate towards other huntsmen and whippers-in to talk hounds. Inevitably at the end of cubbing, someone will ring me up and offer a hound now a touch slow or a youngster who may be a touch shy but those hounds have bloodlines I covet. I believe our pack speaks to this as the kids improve each year.
We’ll talk about this down the road but a few of us want to put on a much smaller foxhunters’ show, say right after Easter. The staff class alone is worth it. We’ll make a bit of money but we will be doing hunting some good, ourselves some good and have so much laughter in the bargain.
On another note, no Virginia Hunt Week this year. Hunt weeks are odd years, William Woods University even years. Cindy Morton, MFH of Rockbridge, the co-director along with me, noted that the new man at the MFHA and the board there is trying a Hark Forward Initiative which, I think as I have no information, is adjacent clubs putting on hound competitions, not hunts but hounds hunting and competing for ribbons, I guess. Well it competes directly with their schedule. So Cindy, quite wisely, said let’s give them a chance. I agreed. If it works, fine. We will find another time slot since Virginia Hunt Week is successful, easy to do. If not, we will return to our regular time in October.
This will be hard for you to believe but 456-8787 is now working after a four-month no dial tone, no anything. However, it is only working on one phone but that’s better than nothing. It does mean, however that I must make the call which I do three hours before hunting if there’s doubt, then run from the bedroom to the office. Not so bad but at 4:30 a.m., I am not at my best.
Verizon is the worst company with which I have ever worked, closely followed by Pitney Bowes. The field people are quite good. Those sitting in the office chairs could care less about you or your account. But all of us in a rural area must take what we can get. As we are right by the Blue Ridge Mountains, communications are difficult and upgrading the lines, etc. is an expense the company has no desire to make. If we were in an office building in Richmond none of this would be the case. Modern business I suppose. God only knows what comes next.
September 15, Friday, 7:30 AM. Arena. First day of cubbing. Finally. See you there.
Up and over
We have lost Gene Dixon, a heartbreaking loss. Bob Satterfield will write an obituary as he knew Gene for years. He may have already done so. As I don’t have email people forget to send me stuff on the fax.
Rebecca McGovern, Francis’s mother died on August 19. She was highly intelligent, gracious, elegant and kind. This, too, is a loss but Mrs. McGovern was 107 years at her passing. Now there was a long, long life well lived.
We’re calling it early! The Hunter Pace will be held on the rain date, Sunday September 3.
You can describe the last part of our season as an artist would describe his or her income: chicken one day, feathers the next. 74° followed by snow flurries at Cherry Hill, snow and ice yesterday and today, March 14.
The foxes don’t care. We’ve had one slow day and one blank day, sure there was a boo-hoo but pretty much it was blank. The other hunts varied from long runs on one fox to foxes everywhere, a convention of foxes.
Sunday, March 5 the fixture was moved to Tea Time Farm. Maria cast up the creek from The Arena, always a nice cast to settle the bank, focus them as the creek is on their left and woods are on their right. They hit. Sounded great. I drove up to St. Thomas Equinus sign and waited. If hounds turned right, one can quickly follow, if left, stay put.
They circled, some of emerging in the large pasture at the sign, the southern pasture, then they dipped back into the woods and the cutover area. On a hunch, I have no idea why but I guess that’s the definition of a hunch, I drove down toward the now hanging by one hook old Tea Time farm sign, passed the stone jump, such a pleasant jump, reached the red gate and stopped. Listened some more.
Hounds kept circling, speaking. I opened the gate, walked into the field, stood still. To my left the hunted fox walking, not terribly concerned, crossed the farm road, sauntered into the pasture where I stood, paraded himself in front of me, shot the bird, walked to the remnants of the hidden pile and the old large round drag, paused so that I could admire his person, looked at the jump there, listened. Hounds cross the road so he trotted into the woods. A mid-sized red, full winter coat, quite a handsome fellow. I wonder was he auditioning for a part in the Sister Jane series? Never underestimate the ego of fox.
Maria heard my “Tally Ho”, rode up. She urged hounds to the spot where he trotted into the woods and they opened like the organ in St. John’s Cathedral. All voices raised, all on. They flew. What a thrilling sound.
On and on they flew. After three hours, Maria lifted them, turned for home and wouldn’t you know, they hit in the cutover cornfield, over at the slough of despond (remember your Pilgrims Progress). She and the whippers-in finally convinced them to move along.
A couple of hounds, footsore from the long hard runs over hard ground and rock in some places, needed to sit out the next three hunts. Yes, there were some hound noses out of joint but they’ll be out Friday, March 17 and Sunday, March 19, Closing Hunt.
This is why green tins of bag balm are in our little medicine chest. Works. Works for us, too but hope no one takes a notion to run over our territory barefoot.
Both Emert and Chellowe provided good runs.
What a glorious memory our Fall 2016, Winter 2017 will be. Our 24th year.
Which brings me to a preaching moment. May we have more and more years. May your grandchildren’s grandchildren have the good fortune to celebrate the bounty and beauty of Nature. Focus, thought, political engagement and doing all we can to secure property is the way. So think. Look ahead and look around. Let’s preserve all this for those who come after us including the foxes.
Kathleen King kindly agreed to work with the Nelson County Historical Society in the hopes of a fox hunting display. Some kind soul gave the society the first hunting horn used by Oak Ridge back in 1887. She’ll give us updates and marching orders.
ANIMAL SAFETY IN CRISIS
The fire at the large clapboard house perhaps a quarter of a mile up the road from Ashley’s got many of us thinking. Fortunately the people and five dogs made it to safety. One kitty is missing. Don’t know if she has been found.
Animal rescue and/or our fire department have no trailers to transport large animals in need. We can get the fire department a list of people with trailers but in an emergency at a farm it would be much better if the equipment was with them.
Once hunting season is over and once I’ve returned from a small tour, I’ll talk to Bette Graham, the founder and head of Almost Home. More than anyone, Bette has worked with county agencies. She’ll know the steps to take. None of us want to make a misstep. I have no idea of jurisdictions, etc. I just know our fire and animal rescue often lack this equipment.
Mark Catron has spoken to a few people and he thinks Southern States will put up some funds for a trailer. Another person with a wealth of knowledge is Dr. Jessica Ligon so I will talk to her early April. Dr. Ligon is our hounds’ vet. Apart from her skill she is very practical. There you have it. We’ll keep you posted.
After a hunt at the tailgate, you all heard the lament of the power washer. Unless you have a commercial grade power washer, a used one is about $5500 (I’ve been looking), if you squeeze two years out of them, good. Everyone politely listened. Mark said he would raise the money. He did not. He went out and bought a new Troy Built power washer, delivered it himself to the farm.
Hounds thank you, John and Toot thank you and I thank you.
Bob Satterfield spoke to Gene Dixon. The hunt would be more fun, easier to do in the fall. He was very willing to allow Chellowe and to be the venue. Gene, generous to a fault, has made so much land available to us over the years, when I tell other masters the acreage we have to hunt that is private land not state parks or state forests, all are astonished unless they are west of the Mississippi waters. Lynn Lloyd has joint meets in California at a fixture that is 80,000 acres. We’re all lucky.
The weather, wildly unpredictable, worked against make-up hunts. I refuse to hunt into April because the vixens are heavy. Usually they stay close to their den but should anyone go further, we can’t take that chance.
In a normal season we average about 62 to 66 hunts per season, depending on where the holidays fall. That is a good average. If I add in the second and fourth Wednesdays for September and October that bumps it up by four hunts. I would really like to add every Wednesday after Opening Hunt. The more hounds go out, the better for the pack. The afternoon hunts are small fields because not many of you get off work but we have never had a blank Wednesday. Should I write that? Will it jinx the future? I don’t think so. That 4 o’clock fox keeps a precise timetable plus he’s hungry. But if we don’t have the staff to do every Wednesday after Opening Hunt, we can at least keep to our second and fourth Wednesdays.
Bill Johnson’s sudden death on October 26, followed a few days later by Vey Martini’s unexpected passing, then our wonderful Anne Henderson left us, plunging all of us into sorrow. The services for each of our friends reminded us of why we loved and admired them. Many of you came, some driving great distances so we could be together in this mournful time. Each of these individuals would want us to remember the good times, the laughter, the bracing chats at tailgates.
In time, each of us will rediscover the joy they gave us, celebrate the joys to come. If we don’t embrace life, we repudiate their memories. Our challenge is to live life up to Bill, to Vey, to Ms. Henderson. I believe you will.
Heat and drought didn’t deter our hounds. They found scent, would lose it, press on and find it again. The runs, mostly short, offered some reward. Hounds did enjoy a few longer runs.
However, the rains have come, the mercury has plunged. The only impediment now is deer season. We have about another month of that. Our quarry sits tight so it takes more to get them up and running. Also, occasionally deer hounds, left out, join our hounds. The kids stick to the way business.
Grays will soon start breeding, followed by the reds. This is the best time of every season. The hardest part is keeping your fingers and toes warm. You can forget the cold during a hard run; it’s the checks that get you. Still, it is as they used to say back in the 1940’s, “very heaven”.
November 26, Saturday, the Waldingfield Beagles hunted from Tea Time. It appeared a hopeless day: windy and the tail end of that damned drought. Casting down by the lower barn, Amy Burke, carrying the horn, moved northward. The north branch of the Rockfish River, way below offered some rising moisture and strange to report, the tiny little feeder creeks still trickled. After 15 minutes of brisk walking, with some of the field casting a nervous eye at the steep drop to their left, we pushed into the area where my northernmost pasture abuts the creek between Jim and Joan Klemic’s land and mine. Zap. Out shot a flying rabbit, zigging and zagging for all he was worth. Beagles hopped on that hot line, immediately and we ran up and down, into brambles, over rocks for an hour and a half with only a few checks. That was a sporting bunny who finally ducked into a safe haven. Amy, still energetic, pick hounds up near the run-in shed by my house. What a tour de force of exciting hound work on a day I wouldn’t have given a nickel for, really. Goes to show, you never know.
Unfortunately, not one Oak Ridge member was there to see this incredible run. Nor was there any food back in Headquarters. Bob had dropped off the drinks in the morning but that was it. Page Turner hurried to Ashley’s. All that was left was fried chicken but we were all famished. Not one piece remained.
Thanksgiving weekend jams everyone’s schedule. In the past we have had some participation for beagling. Granted, it’s never as much as I would wish but I must realize, at long last, that few people love hound work as much as I do and even fewer want to run on foot. It’s not reasonable for me to expect you to join me as I listen to that music.
Speaking of music, our hound chorus grows louder and deeper. The young entry, now part of the pack, are learning to sing as opposed to squealing. Oh, there’s a high pitched squeak every now and then but they’re getting it. How that sound makes those sultry July and August walks worth it and how I wish Stuart Jones were with me to hear it. The fuss from him if someone sang soprano! I’d counsel patience. He actually listened after venting and once the singers learn to harmonize, we were like two little kids, silly with happiness.
We exhibited a bit of nervousness hunting from Cherry Hill, Friday, December 2. Turned out it was lovely to be there. We felt Ms. Henderson and she sent us a few foxes. One was viewed running out of the territory. The other one, elusive, kept the hounds focused. As you know, Cherry Hill is not easy. The fox has all the advantages. Maria cast counterclockwise, starting from the graveyard. At the end of the day, hounds had reached the huge pasture across from the Brethren church on Variety Mills Road.
With only one whipper-in, Becky Birnbaum, one is always a bit nervous near a paved, well used road. The pasture, filled with cattle, seemed just fine, a hint of scent down by the creek but the day was done, so we thought. The cattle charged the hounds who ran toward the road. Becky, not a second’s hesitation, rode right at the cattle driving them down to the creek. Thank God, Priscilla, Sue Satterfield and Jane Andrews, each leading a field, flew up to the fence line. Hounds now had a wall of horses as Becky kept pushing the cattle down and away. Everybody made it to the trailers in good order. Quick thinking, good work. Cheers for all.
The next hunt at the Cistern, colder, saw another long run with interruptions. The best part was the coyote they were chasing ran 6 feet in front of John Morris walking the fixture. Fearless fellow, both of them!
Before signing off, I must mention the Fashion Show, November 13 at the Paramount. A smash. We wondered if anyone would come to this inaugural event. Come, the place was packed. The string quartet established the mood, Dorothy Chhuy’s paintings put us right into the foxhunting vistas and the models, walking down that runway like pros (some were) displayed the best turnout ever.
Mark Catron came up with the idea, organizing most of it. Marian Maggiolo of Horse Country selected the models, the clothes, the music for the runway. Truly, it was fabulous. Lynn Lloyd, MFH of Red Rock Hounds, flew in from Reno, Nevada for it and Jane Winegardner, MFH of Woodford Hounds drove over from Lexington, Kentucky. Grosvenor and Rosie Merle-Smith, MFH of Tennessee Valley Hunt as well as their daughter Nicolette added to the MFH number. There may have been more and forgive me for not knowing all that. I was working the show, a little lecture with slides, thanks to help from Dee Phillips, on the history of hunting fashion. Did anyone remember the talk about fabrics, cutting on the bias, garters? No. They all remember underpants and bras. What fun. Lynn wants me to bring this to Reno. Now Marion and I and Mark are not exactly unwilling but it has crossed our minds that we may encounter strippers. Mercy. I think Mark is already looking at flights. Marion and I are scandalized, just scandalized.
Speaking of coming up with good ideas, Ronnie Thornton kicked off our kennel upgrade with a challenge. She threw a big wad of cash into the bucket. It worked. What a fund raiser. I am reminded that fundraising is the second oldest profession. I must remember to ask Ronnie about that. The money rolled in and then Mark Catron dropped off a load of two by sixes. The next thing I knew the kennels were full of men wearing tool belts and two women as well, Sara Bateman and Kathleen King. Show me a girl with a power drill. Actually show me anyone with a power drill. The workmanship was precise and pretty fast. What a huge difference this has made already. We will save money on our electric bill, keep the water warm no matter what the outside temperature, and keep the hounds cozy, too. We are already saving man-hours. John and Toot are thrilled.
I do not have a list of everyone who worked on this project. If I can get one, I will publish it because we had quite a team. I cannot thank you all enough.
On another note, I ask your indulgence. Due to all that has transpired plus my rewrite (finished!) I have not gotten the jump signs painted. If I can get the fixture card put to bed, I will get the materials to the sign painter before Christmas. If not, immediately there after.
The response to this idea has been wonderful. I had not a clue to what an educated group you all are. Better yet, we can and do ignore it when we feel like it. Thank you for your patience.
What 2017 will bring us, I don’t know but I know we are equal to it.
Up and over,
If you intend to name a jump, please let me know your school colors. Getting to me now will allow us to put up the signs before winter hits. Also, letting me know now, will allow me to get these signs made all at once. Traveling back and forth to the sign painter’s is difficult.
Please send your $100 to David Wheeler. Send the name of your school and the colors to Lynn Stevenson, who will pass them on to me so I can get this done. If you don’t have a jump in mind, Maria Johnson and I will select one. So far we have 10 jumps picked out.
We are not allowing presidential candidates to sponsor signs!
Liz Taylor has written a check to rise to the Thornton Challenge. She wishes everyone to know it is not for the same amount but she did her best, which is very good indeed. Thanks also to Kristin Jones for her wondrously generous check…how thrilled we are and thank you to Tom and MJ Timmerman, who we miss very much, for their donation.
All of this is allowing us to extend the roof, the insulation, in the main kennels. Mark Catron has bought twenty-one 2X6’s so we can get started. We need roofing material and some lights, as well as heavy wood for the outside gates and stall mats to be cut and placed into those doors. Bill Johnson is in charge.
John and Toot estimate that this extension will save them four hours work per day during winter. The hounds will be happy, too.
I bought the propane heaters for both kennels which will save a lot on electricity and add more warmth. The cost of filling both large tanks $600 and we think this will last most of the winner as we need only keep the thermostat in the mid-50s at most.
This will also save on plumbing costs. We received enough funds for Nelson waterers but not enough for the installation which is complicated and expensive especially for indoors. This way, I’ve re-jigged the kennels so what we do have can be placed outside at a considerable installation savings. If you think hard enough, walk the kennels enough and always, talk to the hounds, you find a way.
Bob Satterfield says he will get our men (and ladies, if so inclined) together to knock out this roof and the installation.
Those winds played havoc with some trees down at the kennels. Too complicated for us to remove. Mark Catron has found a tree remover, a small operation, who will do this for us at no cost if we allow him to sell the lumber. He can’t get to us until winter but we have agreed.
With sadness laced with gratitude, we bid goodbye to Tattoo who died in his sleep and to that loving Baby Girl, who left us peacefully. They knew they were loved.
As great hounds leave us, youngsters take their place. Cotton, first year entry, a draft from Lili Wykle, impressed everyone. Flapper, another first-year entry, a draft from Deep Run, was confused at first but has settled right in.
The M litters, two from the first litter and more from the second, are now the leaders of our pack. Beautiful movers, keen and very biddable, we are thrilled with them. Dorky, from Orange County, also dazzles us and he has a real no-quit work ethic. His voice, basso profundo is unmistakable.
All of the young hounds, bred by us or drafted in, are doing so well. Lilac, no youngster, as always, is still the last one in. You have to beg her and she likes to drag it out but she does come to the party wagon. She also makes sure you see her roll in.
Last Sunday’s hunt, October 2, not the best of conditions but hounds managed a twenty minute run, a stop here and there and a rediscovery of the line. What will stay in memory is back at the tailgate when some of us looked skyward to see the female bald eagle pass over us low. Perhaps she was cruising the table.
WILLIAM WOODS UNIVERSITY VISIT
The students will be here October 21-23. We will need sixteen horses. If there‘s a change in that number, you will receive an email. Of all the things Oak Ridge does, this is one of the most important as well as one of the most satisfying. These good riders are the next generation of professional horsemen. All are in Equine Studies and those hand-picked to make the trip must keep a high grade point average. Most have never hunted and they quickly learn why hunting is the backbone of so many equestrian sports
In the past, you all have been so hospitable both on the field and off, that there visits are becoming legendary. The girls (mostly girls) who can’t make the trip want to know everything. When I visit in my responsibility as a trustee, they talk to me and I tell them I can’t select them. That is up to their department chair and the director of the whole program. But I do invite them to come here on their own, if possible. Oak Ridge will never turn away young person interested fox hunting. Isn’t it an energy boost to be out in the field with these young people? I don’t know who gets more out of these weekends: them or us? No matter, it is a win-win situation.
Please email Lynn Stevenson if you can spare a mount.
Many thanks, RMB
HAVE A BONE
Thanks as always to Priscilla Friedberg and Jim Finn for those monthly deliveries of cookies. Thanks, too, for the tennis balls and for removing a downed tree on the trail.
Gib Stevenson brought us some standards and rails that he and Lynn no longer use for our puppy exercises. As you can imagine, there’s a great deal to do to run a hunt club and we are so grateful for your generosity and your surprises!