On March 28th, about 60 middle school students arrived at Carlton Farms near Williamsburg, VA, for a field trip to learn all about foxhunting. Local teacher Jennifer Gore-Raine organized the annual outing for children who read more than 20 books during the school year. James Raine, her husband, has just retired after 13 years as huntsman at Princess Anne Hunt (VA), and bringing several couple of hounds to meet the children was his last official event. The hunt organized different demonstrations and activities to entertain and educate the students.
Huntsman James Raine (cowboy hat, back left) and his wife Jennifer (blonde hair, back right) welcomed about 60 active, curious middle schoolers to Raine's Carlton Farms for the well-earned field trip. M. Drum photo.
Perhaps most popular was getting to meet hounds. Raine explained his work caring for and training the pack, and demonstrated horn calls before inviting the kids to meet the friendly hounds up close. He commented later that for many of these children, this was their first experience getting out of their own neighborhoods into the countryside and hearing about the outdoors, the surrounding habitat, rivers and natural life.
Mike Maddock's horse was captured on this student's phone (and likely shared on Instagram and Snapchat). M. Drum photo.
Following the meet-and-greet with hounds, the students watched and listened as Princess Anne members Robin Somers-Strom, Mike Maddocks, and whippers-in Allison Harcourt and Mary Walker, in hunt attire, spoke about the history of hunting, its traditions, and what a day in the field is like. Somers-Strom rode side saddle as she spoke, and she and Maddocks kept their mounts close to the edge of the large indoor ring so the eager children could take pictures and stroke their horses' muzzles.
All eyes were on Robin Somers-Strom as she guided her horse over a few fences. M. Drum photo.
The large group then moved outdoors, where Somers-Strom ably demonstrated jumping aside, before Harcourt and Walker set up a side saddle on a block so that kids could test out sitting in it themselves. Raine coached children who wanted to give cracking the whip a try from atop a mounting block.
This middle school girl enjoyed the opportunity to try out a side saddle. M. Drum photo.
The entire group was able to sit comfortably for lunch at the picnic tables or on the sunny grass field next to the large turnout pastures and outdoor ring. Some of the children reported that they had read more than 30 books to earn the opportunity to get out of school for half a day and meet the horses and hounds.
The kids returned to school with some goodies to remember their visit. M. Drum photo.
Back at the Princess Anne kennels at historic Sherwood Forest, Raine brought out the doghounds and commented on the collaborative drafts and breeding he had enjoyed as huntsman. He particularly noted the old Virginia American hound, with early drafts from Middleburg, Bull Run, Keswick and Piedmont contributing to the bloodlines in kennels. Having spent the last 20 years in hunt service after growing up hunting in Texas, Raine - who turned 40 the day the kids visited - has taken over management of Carlton Farms and looks forward to reinvigorating its lesson, boarding, camp and show offerings for customers in the area. Meanwhile, Martyn Blackmore will carry the horn for Princess Anne Hunt.
Outgoing huntsman Raine also spoke about the importance of cooperating with neighboring landowners and others who hunt with dogs in the area. M. Drum photo.