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Shakerag Makes All Things Possible for Disabled

“Oh it’s Mrs. Connie the horse lady! Mrs. Connie, Mrs. Connie, where’s Tag?” a student asked Mrs. Connie Washburn at Open House for her Special Education class.

“Look, he’s right here!” Mrs. Connie pointed to a photo she keeps in her classroom of her tried and true Appaloosa, Photo by Richard WashburnPhoto by Richard Washburn“And he’s right here by your desk so he’ll always be able to watch you!”  

For the past five years, Shakerag Hounds has been the sponsor for the riding program of Extra Special People Camp, a summer camp for people with special needs in the metro-Athens area. Mrs. Connie Washburn took on the task of organizing the program when she heard about it from the parents of her students.  

“It used to be held in a field, with no shade for the kids and no bathrooms. Then several of them weren’t even allowed to ride because they were told they were too heavy,” Mrs. Washburn said.  

Mrs. Washburn was quick to take the riding program under her wing. Now, every Wednesday from June through July, campers with the program take a bus to the location of Shakerag Hounds’ kennels and clubhouse. The air-conditioned clubhouse provides a full bathroom facility and the wide doorways make it all wheelchair accessible. Activities and games are set up near the clubhouse under the soaring oak trees that shade the area. Every rider has a side-walker on each side of the horse, in addition to a helper leading the horse on the ground. To say that the program has made a turn for the better would be an understatement.  

“It begins in the bus, before they even get off,” said Jean Carnet, member of Shakerag Hounds. “Their energy, their excitement, they just light up as soon as they pull into the driveway. It’s really incredible.”  

Opportunity Knocks: How Does Your Club Recruit New Members?

The Masters of Foxhounds Association boasts 165 organized hunting clubs in the United States and Canada, including packs in 37 different states. In fact, over 130 million people worldwide enjoy the sport today! While the numbers are encouraging, foxhunters have an obligation to continue to grow the sport and ensure it is available for future generations to enjoy. The soul of the sport teaches proper stewardship of hunted lands (both public and private) and the protection of quarry and the environment and is truly a sport which brings together communities throughout the world.

But how do we cultivate new membership? Where do we find the soon to be committed, dyed-in-the-wool members of the field? What action can the community take to recruit fresh faces, young and old(er), to our beloved organizations?
Here a just a few ideas to ponder- perhaps your club is already actively recruiting new members and you’d like to share your strategies with e-Covertside- please do let us know what has worked for you and what has not. Contact me at katy@covertside.net.
Go hunting!

April Hunter Trials in Central Virginia Provide Fun for Foxhunters of All Ages!

Claire Huddleston riding Jade & Diane Hawkins riding Zip's Classy PrideClaire Huddleston riding Jade & Diane Hawkins riding Zip's Classy PrideOn Saturday, April 7, 2012, a perfect spring day before Easter, a dedicated and enthusiastic group of riders and spectators from the Farmington Hunt went over the mountain to attend the third annual Maury River Hunter Trials, co sponsored by the Farmington, Glenmore and Rockbridge Hunt Clubs.

Forty seven riders of all ages representing hunt clubs, colleges and farms from near and far competed in 11 field hunter divisions, with championships awarded for 8 categories. This hunter trial is designed to encourage foxhunting through friendly competition over an inviting cross-country course well planned by committee members Donald Clark, Brooks Cushman, Henley Gabeau, Brent and Liz Hall, Brian and Penny Ross. Riders from as far away as Bedford County near Lynchburg came to compete in this annual event.

Winter’s Gin

brandyBrandy Greenwell & Bridon Summerbreeze. Photo by Liz CallarNearing the end of a very mild and highly hunted season, Old Man Winter finally decided to show his face the night before members of Middleburg Hunt were to travel for a joint meet with Keswick Hunt Club on February 11, 2012.  There were a few inches of freshly fallen snow at home, but as we started on our trek, the accumulation seemed to deepen the farther south we drove.  In a single moment right around Opel, all the snow vanished leaving a crisp blanket of frozen grass on which to have an amazing day hunting hounds.

Keswick kindly hosted us at Arnold Pent’s breathtaking Edgewood Farm in Orange, Virginia.  Their territory of open, rolling fields boarded by a river is not unlike ours, however the sheer size of this one fixture compounded with the regal manor home, impeccable landscaping and miles of views left quite an impression on the guests so generously permitted to hunt there that day.

Belle Meade Performance Trials: Eyes up, shoulders back, heels down, and hold on!

Journal Entry: Today marked the first of a two-day performance trials held here at Belle Meade.  Guest huntsman Joe Cassidy came in from Pennsylvania to hunt the hounds from five different hunts: Belle Meade, Snickersville, Rappahannock, Hillsboro, and Metamora.  He has never hunted any of these hounds before, they have never worked as a pack together before, and Joe has never hunted coyote before.  Needless to say, we were in for a heck of a day.  Over the last two days the different hunts have moved in and worked on bleaching out their dark hounds, gotten horses settled, and been a part of the festivities going on here at Belle Meade.

Farnley Meet Harks Back to a Bygone Era: Cleveland Bay Hunting Day with Blue Ridge Hunt


Hetty Mackay-Smith Abeles greeted the first Cleveland Bays to arrive for November 19th’s Cleveland Bay Hunting Day at Farnley Farm with tears in her eyes. Ms. Abeles is the daughter of past Master of the Blue Ridge Hunt and Cleveland Bay breeder Alexander Mackay-Smith. She is also the owner of Farnley Farm, former home to more than 50 Cleveland Bay horses, and world-renowned for its Farnley ponies. Hetty’s brother Dr. Matthew Mackay-Smith, greeted the assembled riders, and reminisced about his family’s long association with Cleveland Bays. He recalled more than 17 years in the hunt field shared with his favorite Cleveland, Farnley Ensign. Other members of the family present included Winkie Mackay-Smith (wife of Dr. Matthew Mackay-Smith), Alexander Mackay-Smith’s widow, Marilyn Mackay-Smith, her daughter Caroline Treviranus Leake, and grand-daughter Denya Dee Leake, aboard her part bred gelding, Idlehour Fearnought.

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