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

Master’s Report November 2018

OPENING HUNT, NOVEMBER 11, 2018

      A beautiful day, a beautiful prayer from Reverend Judy Parrish, whom I call Father Parrish. She laughs at me but she does that anyway. We’ve known one another for years and like most people called to religious service, she makes light of it but has always tended to her flocks whether they come through the church doors or not. She’s retired now but still serving others.
      The big news apart from the fabulous weather was the fact that we had Rhonda, Heather, Regan Holland and the grandchildren to see us, as was Anne Seaton.
     You can’t miss Anne, tall, willowy, bursting with energy. I so like to bedevil her. She takes it in good stride. Anne and Mark Catron were and remain, the driving force behind the Waynesboro Symphony Orchestra fundraiser October 26. Hard to believe, but this is our tenth year.
     At opening Hunt, Anne presented me with a check for $2000. Thank you, Anne and thank you, Mark. We are honored to be a small part of this remarkable orchestra.
      Hounds pushed out a fox and ran him to the graveyard by the Cistern. I couldn’t stay behind them as they crossed to the other side of the deep creek by the dying beef barns. Fortunately, Becky Birnbaum was there. By the time I got through a trail somewhat open and somewhat not, he was put to ground but at least we got a bit of music.
     Open Hunts are rarely barn burners for us and usually they aren’t the best for other hunts either. For one thing, almost all of our opening hunts in Virginia take place during bow season or black powder. The important thing is we are all together looking glorious as did Becky, Kristen Jones, the Field Masters  ( Priscilla Friedberg, Sara Bateman, and Susan Boone) and all of you.
      Isn’t it fun to watch the horses? They know what braids mean and we have some vain creatures in our hunt field. Well, when you look that good, it’s hard to be modest.
      Here’s to a good season with hopes that the animals will not start marching two by two. I don’t think Old Man Noah will take a pack of hounds. Onward.

THE FIVE FOOLISH VIRGINS AND THE FIVE WISE VIRGINS

     Do you remember the parable, Matthew Chapter 25, Verses 1 through 12? All ten virgins were invited to a wedding and all brought lamps. However, only five brought oil. The bridegroom tarried. When he finally arrived at midnight, the foolish had no oil. They asked the wise for some oil but were refused and missed the wedding.
      Sometimes I think our foxes are like those ladies. Some store food and others play too much. They prefer to go out around dusk and come back at dawn. We do not hunt at those times so basically we may be hunting the foolish foxes. I don’t know, but I do know whether we hop a foolish one or a wise one, the animal is smarter than we are.
      Finally, they have grown winter coats. We watch a few new den, modern architecture, and a few old ones more of the Federal period I think. The fox with the den at the back of Jim Klemic’s dug into the creek bed with other exits and entrances, is quite tidy. She or he lives in sharp contrast to a den not far from my house, which belongs to a hoarder. No doubt this fox, red, will blame groundhogs for the mess but really it’s his. I’ve watched this domestic debacle for years, which is where I got the idea for Uncle Yancy in the Sister Jane books. The current fox must be the grandchild of the original inspiration. Certainly makes one consider or reconsider inherited traits.
      Thanks to deer season, our game sits tight. We’ve gotten them out a bit but one red, always a good runner, shoots straight to Jimmy Carter’s. Well, the music sounds lovely.
      We are almost halfway through our season. We have just begun formal hunting and we all are hoping for better weather. Hounds like to hunt and so do I, so we go but the footing is deceptive. Surprisingly, in some places it is solid. However, mostly not. This is a mess for all of us and I swear you can hear that mud sucking off your horse’s shoes.
       Some of you have asked if you can wear raincoats as I have been going out in all but heavy rain. As long as it’a not hot pink, go ahead. As to water sliding down your boots, I know of no solution to that.
      Let’s hope for the best. We will be able to return and vigorously hunt our fixtures now hosting hunt clubs and hunting parties. I hope they have a good season as we are overrun with deer. Fortunately, I work on that when puppies are puppies. Even our young entry are hitting their stride. When first a deer shoots out in front of them, they either stop cold or run after it. Seeing that they are alone or only with another youngster, they come back quickly. Often, no whipper-in is needed. The other hounds chastise them, which is really more effective than if I do it. I will do it if I am encountering a hardhead, but in the main I let the hounds do their own policing.
      I’m surprised that our member numbers are growing despite the weather. Usually in bad years, there’s a downtick. Not this year and I credit that to the extra special events, continued glorious tailgates, and general good cheer. The season hasn’t been dreadful but it’s hard for hounds and staff in a monsoon.
      This makes me think most of our foxes are wise virgins, so to speak. They aren’t coming out in this stuff.

A MASTER’S PASSION

      Anything about hunting, I read and re-read. Re-reading Henry Chapin’s memoirs, a very rich and good Master, English. Have read everything I can find about Tom Firr, Fred Findlay, Ikey Bell, and other outstanding huntsmen from the 19th and 20th centuries. Have unearthed some old books about a few notables from the eighteenth century.
      The reason I assault you with this is, I especially love the handwritten diaries which occasionally find their way into used bookstore. No one wants them. I do. As Tallulah would say, “Marvelous, Darling, Simply Marvelous.” ( I adore this woman!)
        So should you come across a diary, whether printed (those with funds often did so) or handwritten, usually in a leather bound book, I will pay for it and your efforts in finding same.
      I can’t get enough. I even keep old pedigree notes. .Hey, you might find another Squire Obaldeston’s Furrier.
      Learning keeps me going. For instance, Mr. Pip has white spots. He’s polka dotted. That coat goes back to an English Thoroughbred, Birdcatcher of 1833. Mr. Pip is a Saddlebred, but Saddlebreds are a good 80% Thoroughbred.
      I you have materials but don’t wish to sell them, if you allow me to borrow same, I will return within one month in perfect condition. I put such things in a drawer so the cats can’t read them. Enough.

EXTRAORDINARY GENEROSITY

The William Woods girls and one professor, Michelle Smith, rode well, covered a lot of beautiful Virginia and Laura Hayon, whipping-in with Becky Birnbaum, saw a bear. Professor Laura Ward rode in the truck with John and couldn’t stop talking about it. She had such a good time.
      They hunted Friday and Sunday. Thank you all for the use of your horses.’
      And now to thank Marion Maggiolo of Horse Country who once again went over the top. She arranged for tickets to the Gold Cup. She had a tailgate organized with tables, food, everything. And for each young lady, she had a bag containing clothing and items they could use.
      I told her I would pay for this as it really is an awful lot. She wouldn’t hear of it. She has done this for the girls each visit and she won’t take a thing.
      Marion says she loves seeing young people learn about foxhunting and she knows William Woods teaches all four seats.
      When you see her, for surely you will go to Horse Country to buy some elegant Christmas presents, thank her.
Dr. Rita Mae Brown, MFH
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