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Chris Ryan Brings a Bit of Irish Foxhunting to Kentucky

Fifty riders from four states converged on the Woodford Hounds Kennels September 3-5 for a Foxhunting Clinic featuring Chris Ryan, MFH and Huntsman of the Scarteen Black and Tans, County Limerick, Ireland. For those of you who haven’t had the honor of riding with Chris, it is a life-altering experience centering on safety, preparation and FUN.

Caza Ladron and friends explore Navajo and Anasazi territory

Photos by Emily Esterson and Nancy Ambrosiano

Red rocks. Blue skies. Sandy footing. Ancient, mystical history. Unmatched company. As I begin to write my account of the Caza Ladron Hunt Club’s 2nd Annual Canyon de Chelly trail ride and hunt, I find it difficult to describe the beauty of the environment, the easy going companionship, and the phenomenal riding. Here’s my attempt at a report:

Hunting Across the Big Pond

an Klye, Master of The Northern Hunt Club in Tasmania, must have thought I was deaf as a post. I had repeatedly asked him the same question because I couldn’t wrap my mind around what he was telling me.

My daughter and I stood among the eucalyptus on this far-flung island, south of mainland Australia. We felt honored to see the hunt’s hounds and talk with Ian about Tasmanian style hunting. Although not a horse person, Rachel had agreed to take part of our holiday for this sortie to meet hunt folk whom I had found online. Anna Hayward, Hunt secretary/treasurer, invited us to visit her and asked me to  speak to the Hunt members as part of a fund-raiser for their coffers.

“What do you mean, there are no wells for water?”  I asked again. I am from Indiana where we have so much water that floods are a nemesis and wells are an unspoken part of the landscape. I’d seen Tasmanian lakes, ponds, creeks, and serious flooding (part of the calamitous storm in Queensland) so I couldn’t comprehend the phrase, ‘no wells’.

“Nah, no wells here,” said Ian with his broad Aussie accent. He grinned at my confusion and repeated questions.

All-Florida Meet Wrap-Up

South Creek Fox Hounds of the Tampa, Florida area recently hosted their Eighteenth Annual All-Florida Meet. Over the years, foxhunting enthusiasts from across the continent as well as Europe have participated, and SCF has enjoyed the company of several hunting icons including Aiden O’Connell and Jim Meads. Masters Robert Pelio of Palm Beach Hounds, C.R. and Carole Stanley and John Stanley of Four Winds Hounds were the honored guests this year. SCF and their guests hunted 3 different fixtures over the course of 4 days.

Photo by Jim Sykes

Festivities began with a Welcome party hosted by Barbara Phethean, Joint MFH and Jack Phethean, ex-MFH. Team roping was featured as attendees sat ringside, enjoyed plates of Cuban food and speculated on upcoming hunting. Thursday morning dawned cool with amateur huntsman, Sarah Fox casting 12 couple of crossbred hounds. The hounds worked  hard, trailing through palmetto and high scrub. They struck on a coyote in a stand of planted pine but the quarry was soon lost as he high-tailed out of the territory. SCF members Tom and Barbara Gradin and Tracy Ramirez hosted a fabulous southern barbeque with all the fixings. The day concluded with a lavish Cajun-themed party hosted by J. Patrick Michaels, Jr., Joint MFH at Sheik Island Farm. Clinking glasses and hunting tales filled the aisles as guests mingled and feasted on crab dip, traditional crawfish pie, gumbo, crayfish etouffee and a deliciously warm, bread pudding.

Record Setting Hunt Raises Thousands for Chalfin

It may have been a record: On December 18, 197 riders from 13 different hunts in Pennsylvania, Maryland and Jersey joined Mr. Stewart’s Cheshire for a fundraising hunt in honor of Jake Chalfin of Unionville, Pa., a steeplechase jockey and avid foxhunter.

Photo by Marsha Scharnberg

Chalfin was paralyzed from the chest down after falling from his mount “Sometimes Not” at the Blue Ridge Fall Races in Berryville, Va. in September. While he’s been working hard to regain his strength, Jake’s many friends and fans have been also been hard at work conducting a fundraising campaign to help cover the significant long-term expenses associated with Jake’s injuries.

To date, “Chasin’ for Chalfin” events have raised approximately $180,000 towards a goal of $1 million dollars. A “Stealin’ the Start” benefit auction and dinner was held on December 4 at The Stone Barn in Kennett Square, Pa.   Arabella Brockett, one of Jake’s foxhunting friends, says, “This kickoff event was an amazing outpouring of support and community event.   250 people attended.   We sold hundreds of items in live and silent auctions including caps with regional hunts; a saddle worn by Ruffian; trips to Jamaica, Europe and Hawaii; and artwork.”  Those who could not attend the benefit in person had the opportunity to participate in the live auction online.

On a brutally cold and windy day even by eastern Pennsylvania standards, the fundraising foxhunt raised more than $32,000 that day alone. Master Russell Jones, says, “Everyone wanted to help Jake and all the landowners welcomed us because of the nature of the hunt. It was a great idea and a good day of hunting.  Everyone who registered got a sticker to put on their boot or horse’s hip that said ‘Jake Chalfin’ Hunt’.  Afterwards everyone was invited to the heated tent at the home of George and Gretchen Wintersteen, where there was plenty of warm food, soup and coffee. The fundraising event worked like magic!  Almost 200 people is a big field for such a cold day, but it turned out to be a great day for supporting Jake, for foxhunting, and for demonstrating community support.”

Paddy Neilson, Cheshire board member and Whipper In, agrees with Jones. He says, “To my knowledge, this is a first; there has never been a benefit foxhunt in the U.S. before.  It was a unique idea for a great cause and a victory for foxhunting!  Everyone enjoyed the hunt, and although we had a slow start, at the end we had a run that was almost 1 ½ hours. This event gave many hunts and the community the chance to reach out and do the right thing for a very worthy person.  ”

The monies raised are going directly to Jake to help cover the cost of a specially modified van, renovating his home to accommodate his special needs, physical therapy, home care services and other therapeutic healing modalities.   You can find out more about future events and donate by visiting www.chasinforchalfin.com.

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