Larry Durisch was born in Norris, TN -- a small town outside of Knoxville. His father liked horses and so he bought one called Lightning, which Larry started riding by himself through the countryside when he was in the fifth grade. When the family moved to Knoxville the horse was sold and he didn’t ride again until he moved to Gainesville, GA in 1970.
Before moving to Gainesville, he lived in Alaska while in the Army and spent time in Richmond during his residency for his medical degree. He was recruited to Georgia and there he took up riding again through his children’s school where Col. Graham ran a camp and riding school. By 1981 he had learned to jump and was ready for more adventures. A good friend, Dr. John McClure, convinced him to try foxhunting. He joined him at the Shakerag Hunt and has never looked back.
Some of Larry’s best memories come from a trip he went on to hunt in Ireland with good friends, John and Ruth McClure and Harriett and Henry Muller. One mount he had was difficult to ride but he would go all day long. The other was so good that he said, “If I could have gotten him a seat on the plane back, I would have brought him with me.”
When the Shakerag Hunt (which was named after the junction which had a stage that came by regularly and the proprietor of the local store would flap his apron to warn people that the stage was arriving and people said “he’s shakin’ them rags again”) moved from its original location because of urban sprawl, Larry’s horse moved with the hunt to Jackson County to board with Connie Washburn and Larry commuted from Gainesville in order to hunt which he still does to this day.
Larry ceased jumping about three years ago, but still hunts regularly. This season he alternates between riding and road whipping as the country gets more built up and they need to keep hounds from going where it is unsafe for them. The country is rolling hills leading up to The Great Smokies, most of it covered either by intermittent forest or agricultural fields that are fun to gallop through. He still gets a thrill out of hearing hounds and especially viewing a fox.
“The camaraderie that hunting has brought with good, old, and new friends is one of the best parts of foxhunting. I love to talk hunting and swap stories of hunts past and present.” This year Larry, 85 this coming January, and his horse, Saint, 17, joined the Centennial Club as their combined ages equaled or exceeded 100. Congratulations! How many sports have as many centenary combos?