Karen: I’m Karen Hatch, 58, Aldergrove, British Columbia; MFH and Huntsman. Do I qualify for your interview as I am now an MFH who hunts the hounds as opposed to a huntsman?
Michele: Michele Cameron, 54, originally from Jacksonville, Maryland; Whipper in, Drag, Horn Player.
Loretta: My name is Loretta Stapleton. I am 64 years old (I can't believe I'm admitting that), and I have been working with the hounds as a Whipper in.
e-Covertside: How did you all become involved with hunting?
Karen: My farrier at the time introduced me over 30 years ago. I then rode in the field, of course, and later whipped-in and from there became huntsman, and last year also an MFH.
Michele: As a teenager, I worked for Sarah Secor, Joint MFH, Elkridge Harford Hounds. She invited me to hunt with her family occasionally. I can still remember the names of all the horses I rode, but her dark bay/black horse "Chief" was my favorite.
Loretta: I was introduced to the hunt by Kathrine VonTrebra who is a joint master of the FVH. I have been boarding my horse at her place in Surrey, B.C. for the last nine or ten years.
e-Covertside: What are three things you never hunt without?
Karen: My whip, horn, and some hound cookies.
Michele: Penknife/hoof pick, crash vest, a nice big breakfast in my belly
Loretta: The three things that are a must for hunting for me are my safety vest, neck strap and my hunt whip.
e-Covertside: What makes your territory unique? What types of modifications have you made for this territory compared with your previous experience?
Karen: We have great variety, fields, forests, rivers, trails, and semi-desert as well. We also have to deal with subdivisions, traffic, etc. We have had to make sure our hounds are well enough broke to deal with the traffic and populations. We have lost exercise grounds and have had to drive to be able to work with our hounds. We no longer can ride out from the kennel property and go down the road to other properties to take our hounds out.
Michele: Our territory is unique because of its stunning beauty and the variety of terrain and footing. We haveeverything from slippery clay to gravel pit ground, woods, dairy grass fields, mountain trails, sandy beaches and dikes!
In the '70s, roads didn't seem to be so much trouble. As a teenager, I just hung on and followed... now, unless I am laying scent, I watch and see how the Huntsman's horse is handling the footing so I can adjust my pace if needed. We have to be really aware of roads and loose dogs that might cross and foul/redistribute our scent line.
Loretta: I have learned that horses are able to navigate territory that I would never have thought possible before I started hunting. I started with a 4 year old, green horse & we learned together. She is now eleven years old and is a very comfortable, safe & fun horse to hunt on.
e-Covertside: What are your goals for the future?
Karen: To work hard to keep territory we have, as it is disappearing fast, and hopefully expand some within our territory.
Michele: I hope to improve my ability to read the hounds and stay calm, assertive, and focused helping, but not interfering with our Huntsman.
e-Covertside: Any memorable experiences you’d like to share?
Karen: There are so many, I can't pick one or two in particular!
Michele: I had a rather misfit horse, Tarkin, that had failed at his early Standardbred race career. He was flighty and a bit chicken. During his first hunt, we had to go up a very steep, long hill. At the bottom of the hill he had no idea what to do, but about 1/2 way up, he sorted himself out, dug in and once he got to the top he was never the same again! He had discovered that he was born to hunt. He learned to gallop with his knees up, jump anything I put him to and was rock solid in any kind of footing.
One year at Opening Meet in Gibson's BC Tarkin landed after jumping a fair-sized log, took 1 stride, and un- aided by me, slid sideways to a stop to stand guard over a child who had fallen. Master Ebo Stromeyer, who was on foot watching from the trail side, said it was a miracle and without Tarkin, she may have been trampled by the other galloping riders
Loretta: When I first bought my inflatable safety vest, some of the other riders were very curious to see it in operation, so they started to offer me things to persuade me to come off my horse to activate the vest. Of course, I refused to willingly satisfy their curiosity. One day, while hunting, another rider came off her horse and the horse ran off. When I reached one of my "friends", he said, “I was so glad to see that it wasn't you that came off your horse.” I thought, oh, isn't that nice of him to say that. I quickly changed my opinion when he added, “I didn't want to miss seeing how your vest worked.”
e-Covertside: What are your interests outside of hunting?
Karen: No time!
Michele: My husband, religion, politics, applying Revive-A-Back Exercise to equitation, dressage, and training my young horse and my dog.
Loretta: Being a part of the FVH is one of the most wonderful experiences of my life. I feel like I am living a dream with my horse.
e-Covertside: Ford, Chevy, GMC or Dodge trucks?
Karen: Ford and Dodge
Michele: I have a '73 Dodge pickup and a Chevy Suburban.
e-Covertside: What is your favorite band/music artist?
Karen: Newsboys, an Australian Christian rock band.
Michele: John Rich and Toby Keith.