Charlie, Taylor, and Aiden Smith are an enthusiastic trio of young riders taking on all the thrills and challenges of sporting life. From competing at last fall's Junior North American Field Hunter Championships, hunting up and down the East Coast, to learning to whip in at Aiken and racing their ponies, these brothers epitomize the bright future of foxhunting and its related disciplines.
Mom Adrienne (at left) and the boys out for a day in South Carolina. Photo by Nick Bridges Photography.
As promising equestrians, the apples didn't fall far from the tree: Proud mom Adrienne Iorio has competed through the International 4-Star (now 5-Star) level in Eventing. She is a graduate B Pony Clubber and is a USEA ICP-certified instructor. Adrienne is a member of the USEA, the USEF, the Norfolk Hunt (MA), Whiskey Road Foxhounds (SC), and the Aiken Hounds (SC). She is actively showing and training horses for eventing and foxhunting.
Charlie, Taylor, and Aiden decked out for closing meet at Aiken. Photo courtesy of Adrienne Iorio.
Along with other energetic juniors, the brothers have the support of Aiken Hounds' leadership. Joint Master Linda Mclean said, "These kids are a huge asset to our hunt and to foxhunting in general! Their enthusiasm is contagious!" Huntsman Katherine Gunter agreed, "It’s been so great having these young men whipping-in for Aiken Hounds this season. Todd Martineau has really brought them along and they have ridden with me a few times hunting the hounds." Gunter added, "We can’t wait for next season. We love the spirit they bring to the sport!"
We asked the boys a few questions about their experiences.
Covertside Online: Do you remember when you first went foxhunting? What did you think of it?
Taylor: Yes, it was one of the best times of my life! I knew I would keep doing it.
Charlie: I didn't like it at first because I had to wake up early, and went fast with the hilltoppers. I was five.
Aiden: I thought it was AMAZING, it is the best thing ever!
Charlie and Taylor ready for the Aiken pony races. Photo courtesy of Adrienne Iorio.
Covertside Online: Now that you have some experience, what is your favorite part of hunting? Do you have one specific moment from this past season that you remember especially well?
Taylor: Riding up with Katherine and Todd and whipping-in for the hounds, and controlling them.
Charlie: Getting to ride with Todd and Katherine and going really fast.
Aiden: My favorite part is galloping.
Aiden gives Poptart strong encouragement down the stretch. Photo by Louisa Davidson.
Covertside Online: What makes riding with Aiken whipper-in Todd or Aiken huntsman Katherine Gunter so much fun?
Taylor: I get to learn and help out with the hounds.
Charlie: Going really fast and sometimes jumping.
Aiden: To be able to see the hounds and to go really fast.
Covertside Online: Tell us about your foxhunting ponies.
Taylor: Aayla is really good, goes along with everyone, and I have a lot of control.
Charlie: Burghley is the best pony, goes really fast when I ask, and he is also the safest pony. He never spooks.
Aiden: Popsicle is a Shetland pony, really cute, amazing, and small.
Taylor heading for the wire aboard Aayla. Photo courtesy of Adrienne Iorio.
Covertside Online: What would you say to other kids who ride horses, but haven't tried foxhunting yet?
Taylor: Definitely try it at least once and see if you want to continue!
Charlie: Foxhunting is the best thing! Foxhunting is like a fast trail ride.
Aiden: It's really fun, gallop, and if you go first flight you can jump!