About

Welcome        To Oak Ridge Fox Hunt Club
Established in 1887 and reestablished in 1993
by Dr. Rita Mae Brown MFH.

Mailing Address
Oak Ridge Fox Hunt Club
PO Box 1136
Charlottesville, VA 22902

The Oak Ridge Fox Hunt Club was founded in 1887 in Lynchburg and transferred to the Oak Ridge Estate in 1910. The group was a nationally recognized hunt in Nelson County for three years, although more informal fox hunting occurred throughout Thomas Fortune Ryan’s ownership. Ryan himself was an avid hunter. The Bedford Hunt was established as the institutional successor after World War I. In 1993, Dr. Rita Mae Brown, Master of Fox Hounds, re-instituted the Fox Hunt at Oak Ridge.

Oak Ridge Fox Hunt Club has a growing membership – 75 + strong, at least half of whom hunt regularly. Many have been with us since our reestablishment in 1993. Our territory consists of Nelson County and a large portion of Buckingham County. The terrain varies dramatically from deep ravines and spurs leading up to the Blue Ridge Mountains to more open pastures and galloping country sides. The James River bisects the territory granted us by the MFHA which means we traverse many strong running feeder creeks and river branches.

The glory of Oak Ridge resides in her landowners, each of them generous to a fault and true country people. Many of our landowners don’t hunt, yet they go out and clear trails on their land, clean up jumps and they act as though we are doing them a favor by hunting over their land. You will never meet finer folk. The Oak Ridge Estate, which boasts over 5000 acres, is being restored by owners Mr. and Mrs. John C. Holland, Jr. In addition to foxhunting, the estate hosts steeplechase and harness races, game hunting and can be rented for private functions. Tea Time Farm is our home fixture as the kennels are there. Cherry Hill, owned by the gracious and doting Mrs. Anne Fortune Henderson is over 1000 acres of beautifully managed land.  Several fabulous properties owned by Mr. and Mrs. Gene Dixon, who also regularly hunt with us, have given Oak Ridge some of the most challenging territory in Virginia.

The most suitable horse for our territory is a Thoroughbred or a Thoroughbred/Quarter Horse cross. Your mount needs to have stamina and be handy. Warmbloods and Draft crosses are increasing in popularity, so you’ll see several in our field on any given day.

The requirements for membership are that you genuflect before the Masters, you stay out of the hounds’ way and you possess a good sense of humor because you’ll need it. If you cap with us a few times you’ll know if we’re the hunt for you. We respect the traditions of this greatest of sports without being haughty. The Oak Ridge members are warm, delightful people and if they have a motto surely it is: A stranger is a friend I haven’t met yet.

Our Field Masters, Hilltoppers’ Masters and Third Flight Master will put you where the action is. All of them love hunting and extend themselves to their field. The real stars of our show are the hounds. Since the foxes think they are the stars it makes for a combustible mixture. Oak Ridge has 35 couple of hounds – mostly American Foxhounds, some crossbred. No matter whether your heart is with the fox or the hound, you’ll have a good time even on those odd days when it’s 80� (in November no less). Usually the fox wears sunglasses on those hot days.

Our formal season usually begins the first Sunday in November: Sundays are formal and Fridays are informal. We now go out two Wednesdays a month which are also be informal. The season ends on the Sunday closest to March 17th – St. Patrick’s Day. (Lots of Irish blood in our human pack!) Cubbing will begin again the first Friday after Labor Day.

Recent Posts

Cubbing starts September 20

We’re almost there if you don’t melt first. Summer refuses to release her vice-like grip and if our weather apps are correct, it will be hot Friday September 20 although not as hot as today.

This is a reminder that cubbing you are there for the hounds. After Opening Hunt, the hounds are there for you.
Easy to say but in practice this means one should be more silent than usual. Of course, you are always to be quiet especially when hounds are cast or have lost the line. As there will be young entry out there, also second year with the veterans, this is especially important.
The youngsters have never seen so many people on horseback. We want them not to be afraid of you, loud noises will do that, and we know they must learn to concentrate with the big kids. Takes time but with even a hint of scent it’s fabulous how quickly they learn their task.
The hardest time for any hounds is trying to find a line then trying to keep it. Soil changes, of which we have plenty, a stiff unexpected wind, crossing a creek can all cause a line to disappear. The fox is a master at it.
While our youngsters are learning their trade so are this year’s cubs, now almost fully grown.
We don’t want to pressure them overmuch but we do want them to run. One of the fascinating things about fox behavior is often the young will run a pattern like their parents. Usually their parents are not with them although that has happened. I do not know if parents teach their young their hunting boundaries for their own game or if this is simply figured out quickly as they are so smart.
As fox has been considered vermin, few state sponsored studies of their behavior have been funded. Maryland funded one the year Princess Diana died which is why it’s vivid in my memory as I was driving to the lecture when the news reached America or perhaps when it reached me. Others may have known it earlier.
Since then there has been some progress such as the book “How to Tame a Fox”, first seen in National Geographic. If one were young, studying wildlife would be a growing field, wide open, I think.
So what I relay concerning foxes or other wildlife is based on a lifetime of observation. I can’t prove a thing scientifically. However, what I have observed helps the hounds and I scare up a fox.
A few rules concerning your turnout. No red. If you wish to wear a short sleeved polo shirt, you may. Our territory can be rough. I always wear a light coat, a salt sack in the beginning, to protect my arms. Your tack and horses should be clean.
Your headgear is up to you. A hardhat helps but my derbies are harder than my hardhat. However, one doesn’t hunt hounds in a derby so I wear a standard hardhat maybe forty years old. If you feel the need for modern headgear, use it. My take on all this is we do not have the numbers that the NFL does so headgear for horse sports is way behind yet better than earlier gear. Not being a person who relishes doom and gloom, I trust your judgement for yourself.
Boots should be butcher boots or field boots, those are the ones with laces which are so helpful because you can not tightly draw your laces so as your foot swells you aren’t pinched. The color of your boots should match the color of your hat. Newmarkets are canvas and leather. The leather usually matches the color of your hat, brown with brown. If you wear oxblood boots of either type, they are exceedingly handsome, you wear a black cap.
That’s about it. Gloves are not mandatory even on the coldest days. Up to you.
Should you wear a stock, doubtful in the heat, it must not be white for cubbing or bye days. You may also wear a tie or bowtie.
In the heat you are not obliged to wear a vest. Should you wish to wear a vest without a coat in the heat, that’s fine.
Cubbing allows you more personal expression than formal hunting. Bye days likewise. Seeing how people throw themselves together is  half the fun.
Britches should be tan, canary, or brick. No white, that’s formal. Canary is also formal but it’s ok for cubbing. They are the devil to find so most people go out in tan or brick.
Sounds like a lot but it isn’t. One time out there and you’ll be fine.
Oh, no colored saddlepads. White. In the old days people did not use saddle pads but the practice caught on as it does save your saddle from all that sweat.
Given the heat, we won’t be out long until the mercury falls aven a bit. High heat beats up hounds, horses, and humans. And they have fur coats. Worse for them.
Here’s to seeing you all at the Arena Friday the 20th at 8:00 AM. The Run-IN Shed at 8:00 AM Sunday.
Up and Over, RMB
P.S Raingear is permisable. No bright colors. Barbour is the best, costly, but lasts forever.
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P.P.S. The NFL has just put up $3 million as a grant and award on a helmet challenge to create a better helmet.
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