Farmington Hunt Club hosted the Virginia Field Hunter Championships on Sunday, November 6, in western Albemarle County. This prestigious competition, founded at Farmington in 1950, follows a unique format. The Masters of each Virginia hunt are invited to select two of their members to compete, and the winning rider's hunt hosts the competition the next year. Will Coleman, representing Keswick Hunt, won the championship on his handsome chestnut, Flying Ace.

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Flying Ace and Will Coleman pleased the judges. Photo by Bob Haschart.

Entries from Bedford County, Middleburg, Warrenton, Rockbridge, Loudoun Fairfax, and Old Dominion, as well as Keswick, traveled to Albemarle County for the multi-phase event. The organizers were particularly pleased that so many spectators also attended to support their riders. The judges' panel included Farmington members Pat Butterfield, MFH, Tom Bishop, ex-MFH, Mark Thompson, and Robert Ashcom — all past champions. The three phases of the event were held in the honest hunt country of rolling cattle pastures and wooded creekbeds opposite the kennels near Free Union, Virginia.

The afternoon began with the under saddle section, followed by presentation of Best Turned Out, won by Middleburg's Devon Zebrovious. The riders then followed 2015 champion, Carolyn Chapman, on a simulated hunt through fields, up and down trappy hillsides at the foot of the Blue Ridge, and over various obstacles including in-and-outs across gravel driveways. This section, observed by mounted and car-following judges, fairly simulated the unpredictable challenges of the hunt field and required alert riders and mannerly mounts.

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Devon Zebrovious, Middleburg Hunt, won Best Turned Out. Photo by Bob Haschart.

Finally, the judges asked all riders to perform an individual test over the outside course. Keswick will begin preparing to host riders in 2017 with Coleman's victory. Reserve Champion went to Teresa Croce and Graylord Woods for Middleburg. Other entries included Bedford's Sarah Baker and Lorin Shellenberger, Keswick's Jennifer Nesbit, Loudon Fairfax's Larry Campbell and Astrid Harber, Old Dominion's Sarah Crocker, Piedmont's Mclelle Craig, Rockbridge's Elizabeth Hall, and Warrenton's Amy Robinson and Beth Woodson.

Hosting the championships capped off a successful autumn for Farmington. The club was overall champion at Harrisburg (PA) Hunt Night and junior member, Emma Bittle, placed 4th in the older first flight division at last month's Junior North American Field Hunter Championships (read our feature story on the juniors by clicking here).

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