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Field Hunter Championships Crown a Great Week in Virginia Hunt Country

NAFHC 2014 Laurie AmbroseLiz Callar photoThe 2014 Theodora A. Randolph Field Hunter Championship, held September 29 - October 4, 2014 in the heart of Virginia's hunt country, celebrated fox hunting at its best. Seventy-four competitors, representing 23 hunts in 9 different states, travelled as far as 1000 miles with horses in tow for the North American Championship extravaganza of sport and social activities.

Though it was a competition of individuals, there was an unanimous, collective joy, in the opportunity to enjoy sport in such a glorious environment, to make new friends, and to simply share in the experience of the week. Organizers and hosts went above and beyond -- offering terrific sport, sumptuous tailgates, and opening homes, gardens, and institutions such as the National Sporting Library and Museum for their foxhunting colleagues.

Christy Clagett and Saba Rock Are Ready to Roll at Thoroughbred Makeover

Saba RockCourtesy Retired Racehorse ProjectChristy Clagett, MFH Marlborough Hunt, is no stranger to training ex-racehorses for the hunt field. She runs her own racing operation at Larking Hill Training Center in Harwood, Maryland, and through the years has turned a seemingly infinite number of hopeless racehorses into happy hunters. The difference this time is that her newest project, Saba Rock (Van Nistelrooy- Sabina, Coxs Ridge), will not just lead the field at Marlborough one day, but he will strut his stuff at the Retired Racehorse Project’s Thoroughbred Makeover: Marketplace and Symposium at Pimlico Racecourse October 4 and 5, 2014.  

A strapping 16.3 chestnut gelding foaled in West Virginia in 2006, Saba hit the board only four times in 17 starts and earned $24, 047; a paltry sum considering he was an $85,000 yearling. Clagett has known Saba from the beginning. She started him in his racing career and in May of this year began his training for hunting.

e-Covertside: You have retrained numerous Thoroughbred for hunting. What is your normal routine in preparing a horse to hunt? Did you do anything differently with Saba knowing he will be performing at Pimlico in October?

Christy: I am doing what I usually do: riding through the woods and streams, opening and closing gates, moving jump riders up and down with my hunting whip. As a Master, I don’t crack my whip, but we have been practicing cracking for the event at Pimlico. Saba goes cross country three days a week for fitness and we started jumping a while back; I don’t jump in a ring, I go straight to jumping over logs following behind a seasoned horse. He has also started hilltopping with one of my employees in the tack while I lead the first field.

Sight Unseen

Duck 2Gretchen Bickel photoThanks to the Retired Racehorse Project, a Georgia foxhunter now has two superstar off the track Thoroughbreds that are hunting with the Live Oak in Monticello, Fla.

Gretchen Bickel, of Thomasville, Ga., bought a horse sight-unseen off the Internet last fall. Thanks to some savvy marketing on the part of Gate to Great Thoroughbreds, an outfit in Newell, South Dakota, that retrains OTTBs, Gretchen fell in love with Swingin’ Slew. Dale Simanton, Gate-to-Great’s owner and trainer, was also a participant in the Retired Racehorse Project’s Thoroughbred Makeover. Simanton and his marketing agent, Heather Benson of Back Forty Marketing, were posting updates on Slew, and Drake’s Dancer (aka Duck), another OTTB Simanton was training, on Facebook and on RRP’s website.

Red Rock Hounds' Summer Celebration of Hunting

Red Rocks 14 ParadeCourtesy Red Rock HoundsRed Rock Hounds has had a really busy summer which was kicked off with the Annual Red Rock Hounds Summer Show in June. This annual show is a great community show that offers a chance for the horse community to come together and has both a mini and a full derby class. The derby classes were a great opportunity to show off our wonderful horses, their skills and invite the community to try hunting. The was a great success with a solid turnout and great community building event for the horse and open space community.

We then hosted a great Summer Adult Camp.  Riders came in from in and out of state to ride with Red Rock twice a day for a week. Riders worked both in the arena to prepare for and then practice riding out across country to become better, more confident and secure riders. Plus riding out from Red Rock Hounds providing some amazing vistas and beautiful rides in open space. The group worked hard and really improved under the excellent instruction of Lynn Lloyd and Angela Murray.   

Sallie and the Tricksters

derek frenchLooney Tunes got it about right. The popular cartoons featuring Wile E. Coyote chasing the Roadrunner, depict the coyote as a scheming trickster constantly dreaming up new ways to capture his prey. The term Coyote is derived from the Aztec word Coyotl which means "Trickster". On film, the coyote consistently fails in his efforts. In real life, the outcome is often very different. But, don't be concerned, this anecdote has a happy ending.

Sallie, one of our Jack Russells, can attest to the extent to which coyotes live up to their reputation. The nocturnal calls, howls and yips of a coyote pack are part of country living where we spend the warmer months up north. When the winter winds howl, my wife and I program the GPS unit to guide us south. Our destination is the west coast of Florida where we have a home in a golfing community. There we expect to leave behind the fauna of the north and enjoy the change in wildlife in the pleasant sub-tropics. But, it seems, we are not the only snowbirds, or should I say, the snow mammals, for whom the warm breezes of the Gulf of Mexico act like a magnet. Yes, you got it, coyotes appreciate the warmth of the south too.

Fancy Meeting You Here: Montana Hunt Weekend Delivers Fun and Friendship

MT pic dJoy Smith photoFor 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.

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