Submitted by Patti Gnau, Hon. Secretary, MVH
While Mission Valley Hunt (KS) was celebrating its 90th Anniversary at the Annual Ball held February 11, 2017 in Kansas City, the Club also honored our huntsman and his wife. This special couple was recognized for their combined 100 years of foxhunting! The program for the evening included biographies and photos of the couple, roasts by the Masters, and two lovely framed photographs of Jim and Carlie, one for them and one for our clubhouse!
Carlie and MVH huntsman Jim Beisel.
A video of the couple that included vintage clips from Carlie riding her first mare, Betty, and her colt, Bun, was also shown during the evening, and guests responded with several standing ovations.
Carlie grew up in Pennsylvania, beginning to ride at age 10, and moving on in her teens to schooling Thoroughbreds for Evelyn Wellen. This opportunity gave her exposure to horse shows, eventing, teaching and hunting. Carlie met her future husband at Wellen's barn when he was hired for extra stable help. Jim had grown up on a dairy farm, riding Shetland ponies, hunting, fishing, and enjoying the outdoors.
As Jim served in the Marines in Vietnam, Carlie studied at Goucher College, and in 1969 they married. Daughter Perky was born in 1972, and a year later the couple moved to Kansas City where Jim had a job. Son David was born the next year, delivered at home by his father when medical help failed to arrive in time (the only short breaks in Carlie's foxhunting career being for their children’s births). Jim started foxhunting with Fort Leavenworth (KS) in the fall of 1974. There he met Bob Smith, who invited him to try the Mission Valley. In 1976 he joined MVH and soon started whipping-in, riding his trusty TR. After a couple of months, then-MFH Mrs. Bunting decided he should wear a red coat, so she gave him one which he still uses today. He whipped-in to Kurt Dutton, who became an important mentor. Jim learned a great deal about hunting hounds from Kurt. He also whipped-in to Hall Harsh, and became huntsman in the early 1980s for a few years, before Tommy Jackson was hired. Jim continued to ride with the MVH, and became the huntsman for MVH again in 2010. Excluding his years with the Marines, he has been foxhunting for 50 years.
Carlie taught riding lessons first at her farm, then at Long Last Farm, east of Lee’s Summit, then at Knaus’ for a few years before moving her business back to her own farm, Settlers Acre. She has taught and had much success with students in hunters and jumpers, dressage, and eventing. For 34 years she has been actively involved with Pony Club, including time as a National Examiner. Carlie regards her Pony Club volunteer work as a way of giving back what Wellen gave to her. She is now down-sizing her business so she can spend more time foxhunting, a sport she has enjoyed for 50 years.
Carlie answered a few questions about life with horses: 1. What should a beginning foxhunter know? - Foxhunting is the fine art of being under control while you’re out of control. 2. What should a veteran foxhunter remember? – Be patient with new hunters so they can learn and carry on the sport. 3. What makes a perfect hunt? – Good hounds, a view, being able to keep up with the hounds and watch them work.
Jim also provided some responses about his work with hounds: 1. What advice do you have for members of the field? - Watch the hounds work! 2. What is the best part about being a huntsman? - Being able to watch the hounds work. 3. What advice would you give to a novice foxhunter? - Get a good horse that is safe, first and foremost, then fast, and that will stand still at checks. The horse makes all the difference between enjoying a hunt or not
Jim hunts the hounds with passion twice a week for MVH and Carlie continues to bring along many new members, young and old, as well as appropriate hunt horses to introduce to the sport! They are a well loved and respected couple for their lifetime contributions to our sport. The following is an excerpt from the Masters' "roast" of Jim at the Ball:
"During the summer our esteemed huntsman, aka MVH Drill Sergeant starts 'walking' the hounds on foot. The goal is to introduce the puppies to packing up and respond to Jim’s voice and horn plus giving the older hounds some exercise. But the truth is those walks are more like 'forced marches.' Yes, Jim served in Vietnam and we are proud of his service, but once we start down that road you better keep up or get left in the dust! We have even whined a little, but Jim’s response is, 'I can’t slow the hounds down, they just want to go! ....With all that being said, believe me it doesn’t matter if Jim is on foot or horseback, we will always be chasing his backside - and we all love you and how much fun we have trying to keep up with you.And for all of you needing a summer fitness program come out and join Jim’s army. I promise you will be in shape and ready for fall hunting!"