Thanksgiving Hunt and Master’s Report

AN EARLY CALL…..
     The Weather Channel, using the American model and the European, gives two different forecasts for Wednesday, Nov. 26. The European model predicts snow for Wednesday.
     Given that this is Thanksgiving Eve, so many of you have big plans, lots of people under roof, let me make an early call.
     If it does snow, I will cancel Friday’s hunt and move our High Holy Day to next Sunday.
     As you must braid, see to guests, this will be more difficult if the weather is bad. Even if it clears for Friday, braiding wondering if you can trailer out for Friday morning seems an unnecessary stress.
     If the weather holds and the American model is correct, of course, we will hunt.
     Look for an early call Wednesday evening. 540-456-8787 Huntline
     The bad weather, if it comes, should not affect Saturday’s foot hunt. That call will also be on the Huntline by early Friday evening.
THE CHILDREN’S HUNT…..please park at The Run-In Shed
      Thanksgiving, the second High Holy Day, is our children’s hunt. A brief review of our modus operandi is in order.
     Thanksgiving Hunt begins with awarding of the hunt button and colors.
     After this happy occasion, Huntsman and staff take a handful of steady Eddies, the children follow. As some are on lead line, this isn’t a long walk, usually down to the polo field. After the kids have walked behind hounds, perhaps seen a fox, they return to the trailers.
     Then the adults walk, trot down to the Arena where the rest of the hounds await us and off we go.
     Should a fox appear when you are with the children, here’s the drill. Stand still. The Huntsman will stand still. The whippers-in will stay with the hounds. Parents, friends will turn the children back to the trailers. Once the Huntsman and the Field Master determine that moving off will not frighten the kids or set off their ponies, adults will go toward the hounds.
NOVEMBER 29, Waldingfield Beagles, 3 pm
     Eat too much? Run it off with the beagles at Tea Time Farm, meeting at the Upper Barn. If you have visitors, children, too, this is an excellent way to introduce them to hunting with hounds. People are on foot, can get close to the beagles, see the action.
     The beagles run much like foxhounds but the circles are smaller, the range of the game, rabbit, being smaller. The biggest difference between beagling and foxhunting is when beagling, you are hunting a prey animal. When foxhunting, you are hunting a predator.
     Actually, when beagling, you hunt what the fox hunts. It is instructive for those fox hunters who wish to learn more about their quarry, but most of all, it’s great fun. Better yet, no one will part company with their horse.
     Following the run, we celebrate with a tea.
     Hope to see you Saturday.
OPENING HUNT….
     Oak Ridge, vast and beautiful, always delights us as well as our guests. November 9 proved no exception. True to form the day became warm. When hounds were picked up we had various temperature readings from 68*F to 73*F.
     Sixty five to seventy five riders went out. The number is a bit shaky because some returned early. There were thirty car followers. Hard to believe but yes, thirty, and the breakfast hosted over two hundred and twenty people including Oak Ridge’s wonderful Hollands and other landowners, without whom we would enjoy no sport.
     We picked up two foxes but scent didn’t hold. We ended on a coyote and there again, scent didn’t hold. Dee Phillips, whipper-in viewed and the field saw some lovely hound work. Not much of a run though. Then again, would it be Opening Hunt without unseasonable warmth and spotty scent?
     Mark and Karen Catron won the Jean Beegle Award amidst much cheering. Their name, engraved on the silver platter, now follows eight or is it nine others? At any rate, it is a high honor and much deserved.
     Wayne Dawson won the Guess-the-Temperature-at-Noon award and promptly donated the monies to the hounds.
     I was thrilled because the hounds did the best they could in the circumstances and also for the very first time I was able to sample some of the over-the-top hunt breakfast. I actually managed to eat half a plate, a victory of sorts.
     The formal season is now upon us.
     Good Hunting,
     Always and Ever,
     Rita Mae

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