On September 28, 2014, the Piedmont Fox Hounds hosted a Field Hunter Trial at Jt-MFH Shelby Bonnie’s Salem Farm in Upperville, Virginia. Situated in the heart of Piedmont’s legendary territory against the backdrop of the Blue Ridge, under a beautiful autumn sky, the new event saw 86 horses and riders compete over a course of traditional jumps set on sturdy, yet undulating turf.
“Piedmont wanted to host an event where people could bring their horses and compete over an old-style outside course, part of the history and tradition of our sport,” said Barbara Riggs, chair of the event. “When we started planning, we weren’t sure how it would all turn out, so we are very pleased with the support from sponsors, our community, and riders bringing their horses.”
The course jumps were built locally by Belle Grey Farm. Materials chosen mimicked those found in the hunt field and included split rail and panel fencing, a snake jump, brush boxes, stacked logs, straw bales, a gate, a stone wall and a formidable trio of coops. Individual jump construction was generously sponsored by Piedmont members and local businesses.
Divisions were offered for horses and riders of all levels: Hilltoppers, Children’s, Junior, Adult-Amateur, Low and Open Hunters. A Hunt Teams class and Hunter Derby were the feature classes of the day. High score awards were offered for Lightweight and Heavyweight Hunters, Adult Amateur Rider, Professional Rider, and for the Hunt accumulating the most points throughout the day. Two awards were provided for the Best Turned Out Hilltopper and First Flight by The Tack Box. Beautiful trophies and prizes were handed out to winners, including an antique silver trophy donated by Piedmont landowner, Dr. Betsee Parker, for the Huntland Farm Derby.
The event was open to all, and competition was stiff. Well turned-out horses and riders brought their best game. Competitors included membersof Casanova, Keswick, Old Dominion, Loudoun Fairfax, Elkridge Hartford, Snickersville, Orange County and Piedmont Fox Hounds. Judging the main ring were Barb Batterton, Blue Ridge Hunt and Betty Oare, Warrenton Hunt. The Hilltoppers were judged by Gail Wofford, ex-MFH Piedmont, and Peter Walsh, a field master for both Orange County and Piedmont.
Jeanne F. Clark, Jt-MFH Casanova Hunt, showed her lovely grey thoroughbred “Boardwalk Empire” in the Low Hunter Division where she was champion. “This has been a great event; Piedmont really hit it out of the park for a first time event. I wish more hunts would bring back this type of old-school horse show.”
From the first ride through to the last, competitors and spectators alike were welcomed to a hospitality tent sponsored by Middleburg Real Estate and The Red Fox Inn. The tent had a perfect 360° view of the main jumping field and the beautiful Piedmont countryside. A small table under the tent shared the story of the Piedmont kennels, the inspiration for the event.
The Piedmont Fox Hound kennels were constructed, in part, nearly 100 years ago. They are some of the oldest kennels still in use by a recognized hunt in the United States; and sadly they are showing their age. This year, with the support and leadership of the Masters, Piedmont has embarked upon a fundraising campaign to build new kennels that would improve efficiency and comfort for both the pack and hunt staff.
Plans for a well-organized and designed, LEED certified kennel were drawn up this summer following a weekend of parties, hunting and point-to-point racing in March. The Field Hunter Trial was the next "fund and friend" raising event held by Piedmont. The more than $70,000 raised to date has facilitated the drawing of plans and site preparation work for the new kennels.
Piedmont Jt-MFH Tad Zimmerman summed up the event. "Shelby, Gregg and I were thrilled with the day, and were moved by the level of community support Piedmont enjoyed. We are particularly grateful for all the hard work by so many of our supporters to inaugurate this event. The quality of the horses and riders was striking and it was a pleasure to see so many horses and ponies show some pace over an old-fashioned, outside course. The event succeeded in bridging the gap between the show ring and the hunting field. The performances left no doubt that we have are a lot of versatile horsemen who can acquit themselves well in both venues. Most importantly, it helped move Piedmont closer to having a new kennel facility for our hounds.”
Champions at the Piedmont Fox Hounds Field Hunter Trials
Children’s Hunter: Beverly Alcock riding Martigraw (Piedmont)
Junior Hunter: Haley Alcock riding Long Johns (Piedmont)
Hilltopper: Olivia Johnson riding Lollipop (Piedmont)
Low Hunter: Jeanne Clark, Jt-MFH, riding Boardwalk Empire (Casanova)
Adult Amateur Hunter: Carol Farnow riding Seguro Que Si (Piedmont)
Open Hunter: Katie Gardner riding Frankly My Dear
Hunt Teams: Positively Piedmont - Haley, Beverly, and Nancy Alcock
PFH/Huntland Field Hunter Derby: Jill Wilson riding Apple (Keswick)
Best Turned Out Hilltopper: Christie Fitzsimmons
Best Turned Out First Flight: Eduardo Coria (Casanova)
High Point Junior Rider: Haley Alcock (Piedmont)
High Point Adult Amateur Rider: Carol Farnow (Piedmont)
High Point Professional Rider: Jill Wilson (Keswick)
High Point Hunt sponsored by Horse Country Saddlery: Piedmont Fox Hounds