On a cloudy fall morning with temperatures in the 50s and predictions for rain showers, eighty-five riders gathered to watch nineteen and one-half couple of hounds at the Opening Day of the Arapahoe Hunt. David Railey, huntsman for Red Mountain (North Carolina) was present from the Masters of Foxhounds of North America, as part of their new program to assist and educate the 171 organized hunts on this side of the pond.
Foxhunting has existed in North America since Colonial days, and some of our founding fathers enjoyed mounted hunting. George Washington had a pack of hounds, but even earlier, in 1650, there are records of hounds were being imported into America. North American foxhunting evolved to its own distinct flavor, which is noticeably different from the British. The most obvious difference is the North American emphasis on the chase rather than the kill. In addition, the coyote, not the fox, is hunted by a very large number of hunts. And, for many hunts, a successful day is when a coyote is put to ground, where he is left to give chase another day. The larger and wilier coyote has the distinct advantage.
This year marked the first time the opening hunt was accompanied by carriages from members of the Colorado Driving Society and the Rocky Mountain Carriage Club. Erik and Mary Jensen brought a beautiful team of four hackney/Clydesdale Canadian crossbred horses put to an 1890 slat-sided break built by Demarest of New York. This elegant vehicle is historically appropriate for country sporting events. Joe Johnson and Pat Lamprey were in a tandem turnout, especially appropriate to the hunt. Historically, the wheel horse would pull the hunter in his cart to the hunt while the lead horse turned out with saddle and open bridle to arrive fresh and ready for the day's sport. At the end of the hunt, the wheel horse would take the hunter home. Libby Stokes drove a single horse put to a Greenall Flyer. The flyer is a lightweight competition vehicle suitable to cross-country pleasure driving.
The carriages parked on a knoll overlooking the Rev. William H. Minnis (ret.) who gave a blessing to horse, hound, and rider. The blessing of the hunt remains one of the oldest sporting customs. Following the blessing, hounds were put into cover near Airplane Hill and took us west and then north around the 160. Hounds started feathering a cold line and worked north towards Quincy out of the 160. The first coyote took us north, as hounds opened to the line and had to be stopped short of Quincy. The carriages followed hill topping.
Shortly thereafter, a coyote was capped by Honorary Whipper-In Tom Mallard, whose voice went up at least an octave in excitement, as the coyote was jumped twenty yards ahead of the field. Hounds were immediately put on the line and worked east for about a mile before the quarry decided to part with our hunt country and was given best, as hounds had to be stopped from cross traffic. The pace was even all day, as Dr. Beeman didnt lose any time taking the pack again towards Box Elder Creek. Another coyote ran east and again, north over Quincy. Dr. Beeman, MFH, noted this was the first time in his memory that three coyotes had all run east and then over Quincy. Since he is seventy-three years of age and grew up in the saddle while his father hunted these hounds for nearly fifty years, this observation should not be taken lightly.
Rain clouds loomed from the west as the wind picked up and spitting rain cooled the already autumn day. Hounds ran another coyote three miles east from Box Elder, and hounds opened nicely along the bottoms, and gave a good view to the field of eighty-five. One more coyote finished out the day, as hounds followed a cold line back towards the kennels. Some 19 miles were covered, in just less than three hours of hunting. An unsurpassed hunt breakfast awaited hungry riders and guests alike, topped with Pimms cups and other festive treats, organized by Pam Rolph and Anne Wolf. Rick Rolph and Bill Wilbur led a live auction of the naming rights to six puppies, a favorite annual fund-raiser of the club. The winners have the first right of refusal for the annual Race of the Noses at the April Point to Point competitions.
In all, five coyotes were run, three of which crossed Quincy to the North, running out of our territory. Ink, Itch, Ingle, Ivy, and Indy were the star hounds. No surprise, as Ink and Ivy were the top two hounds in the MFHA Centennial Hound Performance Trials this past March. Mike Wilfley, MFH, led the field and Dean Kimbell led a second, non-jumping field with Eve Hampton taking a third field of hill toppers. Honorary Whippers-In included Herb LaMee, Tom Mallard, Lyn Robinson, Ken Slyziuk, Christopher Towt, and Marshal Younglund. A special thank you from the hunt was given to Deputy Butterfield of the Arapahoe County Sheriffs Office for his assistance.
©2005 Horse Connection All rights reserved.