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.
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.