For many of us, especially those on the East Coast, hunting has been more of a non event since the New Year, largely thwarted by snow and ice. When you were able to dig out your trailer, ground conditions were so bad we surely would have upset our landowners, so a trip to join Red Rock Hounds in Montana sounded like a great idea!
Lynn Lloyd’s Red Rock Hounds have been making the trek to Montana for the last 13 years and this expedition was exceptional in so many ways. Lynn’s view is the more the merrier and she reaches out to all that come to cap with her with warmth and genuine interest.
This year we had a field of 65 riders, and at least 20 supporters who met at Renee and Kale Mantle’s Ranch just outside Three Forks (near Bozeman). These hard working folks run a dude ranch and were able to supply horses for the field. After watching the antics of foxhunters for many years, Renee decided to try this sport for herself, and with some of Lynn and Angela’s older hounds, has formed Big Sky Hounds.
What do you get when you get 45 fox hunters together? A whole lotta noise and laughter! Members from six hunts descended upon Three Forks. Members of Santa Fe and Santa Ynez Valley Hounds (CA), Mission Valley Hounds (KS), Cornwall/Fox River Valley (IL), Tennesee Valley Hounds (TN), Treasure State Hounds (MT), Old Northbridge Hounds (MA), Big Sky Hounds (MT), Red Rock (NV) and 18 of us from Amwell Valley Hounds (NJ) shared stories of foxes and coyotes that got away, gallop defeating runs, jumps that could have been in a four star event, hounds with super canine abilities and tales of characters we have all known! The youngest rider was eight years old the most senior 73.
All of you Montana experts, any talk of the snow-capped mountains, the rolling hills of the lower lands, the big blueskies, the dust rising up in the distance like wisps of small fires, the soft and easy footing, the rivers glinting below us the lack of habitation by man, the odd bald eagle, etc. will be boring, but for the rest of us it was nothing less than spectacular. Every gallop got longer, every hill more thunderous, and, as we suspected, every coyote more wiley than the last!
Three days was just long enough to build some friendships for the future, to share hunting invitations, to soak up the scenery, to watch hounds work in such expansive space, and to create some lasting memories of a truly amazing time. Thank you to our hosts, Master Renee Mantle and her husband Kale of Big Sky Hounds and Montana Horses and, of course, Masters Lynn Lloyd and Angela Murray from Red Rock for the invitation. If you have ever thought about a road trip, this is the one!