Master’s Report September 2016

Answered Prayers

Ronnie Thornton has given the club $2000 so we can start working on our kennels. Maria, Bob, David, the boys and I were floored by her generosity and so very grateful.

When I spoke to her to thank her, she threw down this challenge: tell people to match me in cash or in kind. That will get the job done a lot faster.

So I pass on her challenge. Ronnie will work her will on some of you and if that doesn’t succeed, watch out for her deadly charm. Hounds and I thank her above and beyond.

Mr. Peanut

Most of you have seen Planter’s Peanut, Mr. Peanut with his top hat and single eyepiece on the ribbon, sometimes he has a cane, too.

Well, our foxes love peanuts. John and Toot order ten 50 pound bags of salted peanuts which they put into the feeder boxes along with the kibble.

Peanuts contain a lot of protein but here’s the best part, the boys also give them chocolate covered peanuts, 10 bags of 30 pounds. They swear the foxes can’t get enough peanuts.

I believe them, of course, but I think some of those chocolate peanuts find their way into other stomachs.

Where’s Mayor Bloomberg where you need him?

The Perfect Setting

Put a jewel in the right setting, the right metal (gold, silver, platinum) and it breathes. What is there about aesthetic harmony that dazzles one and all too often removes that nasty lump in your wallet?

Last Sunday, August 28, I had the good fortune to attend Ashland Bassets’ Beginning of the Season party. What a smash.

You drove through the simple, lovely gates to Rosehurst, up a long winding driveway to the top of the hill where reposes a Georgian mansion of brick and white wooden trim, etc. As I adore anything Palladian, I wish I had packed my bags. Surely I should live there.

To make matters even better, sitting to the side of the front door, on the lawn, was a bulldozer ready for future work. I want a bulldozer!

The door opened to admit me and I should add here that Vey Martini drove me up since I am still not to drive a long distance. She’s been a good sport about hauling me around. Standing on the other side of the door was a most attractive woman with a big welcoming smile, Jane Hurst. Behind her was a desk with Jean Roberts, formerly of Horse Country, Jennie, also from Horse Country and they received a small sum in exchange for silent auction number.

Lest I forget, Mrs. Hurst drives a zero turn lawnmower and does that huge lawn herself. I knew I was in the right place.

The number exceeded 100 and I suspect hovered close to 150. The age mix was terrific, lots of basset people, foxhunting people and those who did neither but were brought by friends or curious.

The food and spirits filled the kitchen. Everyone talked to everyone and within an hour I think I met most everyone there. Some people I knew and was so happy to see them. Other people like J. Harris Anderson, another writer, were great fun for me to talk shop with. He can be so sly and funny. He, by the way, will be our Master of Ceremonies for the fashion show November 13.

You know sometimes the stars align and this was one of those afternoons. Mary Reid, MBH, asked me to speak a little. I did and I didn’t go on. As the group was so mixed, I gave a brief overview of bassets, beagles and foxhounds since I have had the fabulous good luck to carry the horn for bassets and foxhounds and to whip-in, occasionally, to the oldest beagle pack in America. No one said a peep so I knew they were interested and I did keep it short. Ashland Bassets made new friends, kept old ones and won new members. By the way, they hunt Warrenton’s, Casanova’s and some Orange Countyterritories. Great fixtures.

Basset and beagle clubs hunt by permission of the Master of  Foxhounds in their area. The fact that this club has won the trust of three separate hunt clubs tell you how good they are. Great pack, too.

Marian DiMaggio arrived early and as she always does just picked up the pace . She, Mark Catron and others of us are so excited about our fashion show we need ankle weights to keep us grounded.

I bring this up for a few reasons. If you have the opportunity to hunt with Ashland, do. I will take you up there. No fixture cards yet. None for us until mid-October but we are under different constraints as are most foxhunting clubs.

Also, do hunt with Waldingfield Beagles or Farmington Beagles. Our master, David Wheeler, whips-in to Farmington and I sometimes whip-in to Waldingfield. I’m sure David would be happy to arrange for any of you to hunt.

We will be seeing friends from the Warrenton area hunting with us. Many made promises and I hope they keep same.

Another reason for me to describe this is next year perhaps we could host a cubbing party a week before the first cast. What a great way to get back together. We have months and months to think about it. But think about this: what if perhaps every two months we had a potluck at a different home and your hunt staff answered questions? We might start with whippers-in talking about what they do, how they view fixtures etc. and then you all ask questions.

Many of you, I think, would enjoy details, have good questions and we would all be together without having to worry about cooling down horses, putting up hounds, etc.

Another piece of news, Lynn Lloyd, MFH of Red Rock, Angela Murray, MFH and Scott Tepper, MFH promise they will come to our hunt fashion show. Maybe they’ll even bring others. Jane Winegardner, MFH  Woodford Hounds, Kentucky says she will be there and Joan Hamilton of Kalarama Farm is coming. We will hunt Saturday, November 12 for our guests and then Sunday on with the show. I don’t know if I’ve told you all about the other masters.

Please bring your friends. Mark, of course, will be inviting all the masters and members of the adjoining hunts and we hope they, too, can be part of it all.

Anyway, think about occasional low-key get-togethers where we can dip into the details of hunting. If only we could get the fox to give a lecture. Maybe promising chocolate covered peanuts would be a sufficient bribe.

Up and Over,


P.S. Dorothy Haskell Chhuy will be bringing some of her watercolors and oils to the fashion show. As you know, marvelous work.


The “Daily Progress”, August 31, 2016, carried an article about a research team in Hungary at Eotvos Lorand University in Budapest. The finding of the experiments and MRI scans seems to prove that dogs can understand some language and they interpret meaning in the left side of their brain which is what humans do. The right side of the brain processes pitch, emotion. If you say “good dog” in a level tone of voice, the dog may listen but if you say the same thing with a happy voice, the dog not only understands but is also happy.

Universities spend money on this. Most dog owners could tell you the same thing although perhaps not pinpoint the location in the brain. That’s like theUniversity of Tubingham in Germany, some years back, doing a big study which proves animals have emotions. I have no doubt about dog or other animal intelligence but studies like this certainly make me question human intelligence.

Hip Update

Returned to VCU for a checkup. I’m doing great and even a bit ahead of schedule. My hip and leg are weak though so now I must go to a Medicare approved gym for physical therapy three times a week. I asked Dr. Jiranek to make sure the therapist treats me like an athlete. I want to get back to high performance. As a rider himself, he gets it. For this I am very grateful. My goal is to be better, stronger than before. I go back for another checkup in about five weeks.

I can ride when I feel strongly enough. My plan is to see how I’m doing after two weeks of the intense therapy. If I’m advancing, strengthening, then I will mount up and walk 15 minutes a day for a week. After that I add another five minutes, etc.

My intention is to hunt hounds at 100, God willing. Here’s the deal: if you think you’re old, you are. If you want to keep going, you find a way and if that means more time in the gym, more sleep, then do it. Why would any of you listen to the blathering predictions of people concerning your state of being? Only you know you. Now if you want to fiddle with statistics and believe in averages, then you are average. I believe that average means the average of the deviance. The hell with it.

Hound Laughter

Canines do laugh. It’s a puff of air from their nostrils and/or mouth. They smile when they do it. Is your dog laughing at you? Maybe with you? Cats, on the other hand, don’t even bother laughing at us.

Wisdom from My Beloved Tallulah Bankhead:

“It’s hard being me. Even I can’t do it.”


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