We had a beautiful day for our Blessing of the Hounds and we all felt particularly blessed to have the opportunity to hunt these beautiful fields. This day was made possible by the unflagging work of Jon and Anne Kaiser, Janet Marantz, Marjorie Franko, Lori Baldwin and other volunteers who spent the last two weeks clearing the trails.
Thanks also to Noel Estes who arranged the details of the Blessing and to the Kaisers and the Greenbergs for the tasty tea.
The first field was led by Wendy Good and Hilltoppers were led by Debbe Kelley. We had three casts in all, ending with a very picturesque ride up through the apple orchard.
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Yesterday we had a joint meet with Tanheath in Pomfret, Connecticut. It was a beautiful day and it seems a shame to miss out on any opportunity to explore some new territory. It was only 24 degrees when we left the barn but had warmed up to a whopping 27 during the hour and 20 minute drive.
As we drove up to the parking area we were already excited about the ride to come — the countryside was lovely. Very reminiscent of England with its open fields and greenery.
The hunt started with their Blessing of the Hounds. With the hounds and staff silhouetted in the morning sun and the light mist that rose of the fields it was a special moment where we gave thanks to the hounds, our horses and the fox.
We rode off through some exquisite fields peppered with inviting looking natural fences. Sadly, the fields were still very wet from the freak snow storm last week, so we were only able to jump two of them. I must come back and ride here again!
We didn’t get to see much of the hounds on the hunt — they disappeared soon into the hunt; I’m not sure what scent they were following, but only a few of the hounds stuck with us. I know from friends who’ve hunted with Tanheath before that this is a great pack and we were just unlucky that that we missed out on their music.
We did have some nice canters and enjoyed the new views and vistas. For Freedom the most exciting part of the hunt was the llama. We were cantering up a dirt road and there was a fenced in field on our right that held two llamas and a goat. Right when we got next to them, the white llama moved! That caused a huge spook to the left (he didn’t know they were alive until the moved) that torqued my knee something terrible and left Freedom snorting in disbelief.
All in all, it was a very pleasant ride. We met some nice people, enjoyed the territory and even basked in the sun (it was 62 degrees when we got back to the trailers). It was also a pleasure to get the chance to ride with Ginny — usually we see her only from a distance.
Saturday, October 8th we hunted from Red Rail Farm. It was a really beautiful day — up in the mid-70s and sunny — and we had a nice large turn out. The hunt started from one of the most beautiful fields around offering a fabulous view of the hounds as they started to work.
We then moved off into the woods. Although the hounds started off well, they were diverted off the drag by some live scent — most likely deer — and while we could hear them give tongue off in the distance, they were not on the drag. That left the field waiting for staff and the hounds off the side of the trail, hoping not to disturb a nest of ground bees (one of my biggest fears when hunting on warm fall days).
After nearly 10 minutes we moved on but at a controlled pace and continued on until the first check.
Our first check was at a glade in the woods. It’s a very pleasant place to pause as it was a little cooler out of the sun and gave the horses and hounds the chance to catch their breath.
The second cast went very well. The hounds were back on track and we had a good gallop through the woods.
We finished the hunt with an adrenalin charged gallop up the final hill. Freedom must have had some flashbacks to his racing days but we managed not to pass anyone.
Thanks to Noel Estes, who led the jumping field, Debbe Kelley who lead the hilltoppers, and Dennis Kelley who led the third field.
Jenn Fuller adds, “Anything that happened before or during the hunt was likely eclipsed by the LOBSTAH FEST! Thank you to our generous hosts of this annual tradition — Kim Johnson, Pam and Buzz Hawes, Cathy Shortsleeve, and Stephanie Juriansz. It goes above and beyond and sets the bar for the other teas so high, I’m not sure how the rest of us can hope to compete.
But, before the LOBSTAH FEST, there was, of course, a hunt. It was a beautiful day, a bit brisk at the start, but it warmed quickly. It may not have been our most spectacular hunt, hound-wise, but we are dealing with animals who sometimes have a mind of their own and might not do exactly what we hoped they would. In the end, though, we had all but one hound, Ms. Diva, who decided she’d like to get a history lesson at Walden Pond. It pays to know people if you’re the Huntsman, though, and we retrieved her from the pokey free of charge. :-)”
Here’s the hunt report from today’s hunt (September 27th) at the Groton Town Forrest from Jen and Rhonda. Thank you both for keeping us so well informed. If anyone else would like to chime in, please do!
Jen wrote: “The steamy weather just doesn’t want to break so despite somewhat cooler temperatures, it was another hot one for hunting. Especially at Groton Town Forest, where there’s no shade in the parking area. Luckily most of the territory is in the woods which the riders, horses and hounds appreciated, I’m sure! We had 5 couple with us again, the same hounds we had in Westminster, but swapped Apple for Jazz since Apple’s in heat. The hounds were a little slow today and there wasn’t much voice, but they all came in at the check and they all finished together. And THAT is nothing to complain about! We had a good sized field for a Tuesday and it was great to welcome back Larry and Marjorie from their travels in Russia. Wendy led the first flight and Deb led the hilltoppers and the entire field was all smiles at the finish. Another great day with ONBH as far as I’m concerned!”
Rhonda added: “Yes, the hounds kept trying nearly all the way, have to give them credit. I was posted out at the railroad track crossing, and could hear them coming from Bloods’, but after that voice was pretty spotty, with Dandy and Diva being the vocal stars. We hit bees just before the switchback turn in the woods on the first piece (that would be where Noel gave great voice!) and again early on the second piece… (I’ll be interested to see whether Cricket keeps up her performance of today, when she let me know with a swirling tail that they were there both times, well before anyone got zinged! Could be useful!)
Once again, hounds were quite obedient. Although Cameo hung back a bit at the check, spooked by all the horses, she did appear–so we had all 5 couple both there and at the end. There was a minor detour to the river by a few (I think some of us might have felt like joining them!) but all returned quickly. Midway of the second piece, something (we don’t know what) briefly detoured about half the pack, but they were honest enough to quit giving tongue, and came along quickly to join the rest in the last couple of fields.
And I agree: “Another great day with ONBH as far as I’m concerned!”
If you didn’t get the chance to hunt at Westminster on September 25th, here’s an update from Jennifer Fuller, who has been driving the hound truck while Declan recovers from an injury, and Rhonda Hettinger who whipped in. Thanks to both of them for reporting! For all of us who couldn’t be there, it will spur us to get to the next hunt.
Jenn writes, “It was a beautiful day, though a little steamy. We had a small field, but they enjoyed great views of the hounds hunting the fields. Ginny let the hounds out of the truck at the cast to enjoy a taste of yummy Westminster grass before they headed out. We had five couple, the same group as Tuesday that hunted so well together — Justice, Concord, Jeannie, Jiingle, Cameo, Charmer, Apple, Dandy, Diva and Dreamer. All ten hounds came in together at the check and at the finish and as always we enjoyed a great variety of munchies and good company at the tailgate tea that followed.”
Rhonda adds, “the hounds behaved very well in response to some changes to their usual routine–because the wooded trails had been intentionally blocked (thanks to the ATVs!) we could not continue beyond the fields on the first piece. The hounds were honest and stopped when the scent did, then held up for us–where no one would have really blamed them if they had kept on into the woods where they’ve always gone, looking for more! (And the folks doing the model airplanes must have had a great view of the hounds… I’m very grateful to them for not having any take-offs while Cricket and I were alongside the landing strip…)
The steamy weather must have made scenting a little harder on the second piece, but hounds worked well and gave tongue throughout. I had a great–if private–view of them working down in the corner of the second field, as they worked at keeping and/or finding the scent. A slight bobble at the “red gate” (which always seems to pull hounds like a magnet!) was quickly sorted, when hounds almost immediately responded to Ginny’s call, and picked up the line again. And at the end, they again obediently stopped at a different spot than we’ve usually used.
Since they’d worked so well, we really hated to miss out the third piece, back through the long fields, but it was really heating up–and the hounds didn’t have the luxury of a proper swimming-spot to cool off, as they do some other places. Besides, we’d noted that only the upper half of the fields had been mowed, with standing water in some churned-up ruts where something had got deeply stuck. We figured the field would have had to follow by the road, and staff might have sunk right out of sight (the lower side is wet at the best of times!) so rather than risk it, we loaded hounds and hacked back.”
Today was the first hunt of the season and it was a fine day. A bit warm, but beautiful. Thanks to Ginny for starting out the season with such a pleasant hunt and for Rhonda Hettinger, Sue Bater and Lori Baldwin for whipping. The hounds did very well despite the heat. This is a really beautiful territory — the view over the dam was particularly splendid this morning.
Thanks to Carolyn Jazowski’s idea of offering discounted Hilltopping certificates at the Pace event, we had a guest join us for her first hunt ever. Jane and her horse had a great time and she was enthusiastic about hunting with us again.
Rhonda wrote a nice description of today’s hunt that she posted on Foxhunters Online. I hope she doesn’t mind that I reprint it here.
We had a great time, despite its having to be a short hunt (our normal third section of drag had to be left out due to large trees still down on the trail–although two of us venturesome whips, having been separated from others anyway due to a bee-scapade, decided we’d see if it was possible to get round and/or under–and we proved it was possible!) Hounds did a wonderful job in not very favorable scenting conditions, as it warmed rapidly–kept trying the whole way, and seemed to be honest in not giving tongue unless they really were on the line. It was a small week-day field, so everyone could be up close and able to see and hear hounds.
Cute scenario near the beginning, with possibilities for an animated cartoon. Hounds had found the line, and followed it from the “bowl” of the flood control area up to the ridge above, heading towards a wooded trail. A couple of the younger ones apparently spotted me paralleling them, and debated coming towards me… Looked to me as if a vaporish bit of scent (picture a cartoon hand) wafted up, grabbed them by the nose, and tweaked them 45 degrees back onto their correct path!
Second delight of the day was when we realized that we had one more hound than we thought. Another of the younger ones (littermate to the two above) had somehow eluded discovery and gotten onto the hound truck with those drawn for hunting. She’d been left out of our selection since she’d been quite shy of horses last spring. Not only did she stay well with the pack and apparently ignore her previous worries, she even gave tongue several times! So we decided things do happen for the best!
The New England Hunts 81st Annual Foxhound Show was held on June 13, 2010, and was hosted by the Myopia Hunt Club in Hamilton, MA. We are very proud of our hounds who received the recognition they deserve.
Championship – Best American Dog or Bitch
ONBH Dandy – Shown by Sue Corey Trophy – Millwood Hunt Challenge Bowl – donated by Mr. & Mrs. Raymond Gordon
Championship – Best Couple in Show
ONBH Charger & Concord – Shown by Samantha Sullivan
1st place Jr. Showmanship 12 – 17 yrs. Richie Riley – ONBH Cloudy
1st place Jr. Showmanship 11 and under – Cassie Riley – ONBH Dandy
Also competed Nicole Rassulo & Julip, Britni Crotty & Charger, and Laura Santel & Dandy
Retired Foxhound Class:
1st Place – Dennis Kelley – ONBH Abby Trophy
4th Place – Lisa Murphy – ONBH Darby
Special thanks to our Masters Hum and Mim Neville, Staff Susan Bater, and Rhonda Watts-Hettinger, members and friends for all their help and support.
The weather was cooperative with just an occasional light drizzle at times. We all enjoyed a great day and we are already looking forward to next year.