A junior member gives back to her club when it needs it most.
When it comes to involving children in foxhunting, seek a club that welcomes juniors, says Grace Pariso, joint-MFH at New Market-Middletown Valley Hounds in Middletown, Maryland. When her daughter Lily Adams joined the hunt in 2012, she found countless opportunities for growth as a young horsewoman as well as a charitable member of her community. But perhaps the most profound lesson Adams will carry into her senior year of high school will come from the club’s supportive and sincere character that’s helped shape who she is.
During her junior year at Oakdale High School, Adams was accepted into the school’s Leadership Program where students complete a set of self-initiated goal-oriented tasks that serve their communities.
“The service project I chose benefitted the hunt,” Adams says. “COVID-19 has had a huge impact on our club and its ability to hold a series of spring fundraisers upon which we rely for the upkeep and care of our beloved hounds.”
Adams composed letters and reached out personally to people and businesses in her community, requesting donations to secure materials and supplies vital to club staff and members like herself who help keep kennels clean and hounds healthy.
“So far, the project had been quite successful. We have acquired or been promised over a month’s worth of hound food as well as other much needed kennel supplies,” Adams says.
During her eight years of membership with NM-MVH, Adams has enjoyed the ups, and even the downs, of riding many different horses across its varying terrain because of its supportive and encouraging environment. Pariso, who’s foxhunted for 34 years and been with NM-MVH since 2001, says she owes much of Lily’s maturity to the club’s unique character.
“It’s much more encouraging and forgiving than the competition world,” Pariso says. “Having a stop or a fall doesn’t necessarily mean the day wasn’t successful or enjoyable. This kind of riding, with purpose but without being judged, has made her a very patient and mature rider and I’ve seen that translate to her riding in competitions.”
Adams pays it all forward by readily ushering younger junior to the group and helping them learn and grow as riders and young men and women. “She’s always willing to keep an eye on the little ones,” Pariso adds.
The club’s territory offers rolling hills and dense mountainous forests. Adams’ off-the-track-Thoroughbred, Howie, loves it all. She says he’s as interested in the hounds as she is. Her favorite hound is Actor. “When he was a puppy, I got to visit him a lot and work with him,” she says. “He’s easy to recognize out hunting and does his job very well.”
So perhaps then it’s no surprise that, when it came time for Adams to choose her self-initiated goal-oriented tasks to fulfill her Leadership Program, she chose to give back to the community, people, and animals that have given so much to her and the junior members to whom she serves as a role model.
“After I graduate,” Adams says, “I plan on attending college and studying international relations.” Naturally.