It was perfect weather for the first Rocky Fork Headley Hunter Pace held on June 9 at Spring Hill Farm in Granville. Thanks to those who rode and got to enjoy this lovely territory. Congratulations to our winners!
Mark your calendar for the July 14 Pace at the Park at Infirmary Mound. The July pace is run by Licking County Parks with assistance from Rocky Fork Headley Hunt and Miami Vally Hunt clubs, so does not count as part of the Rocky Fork Headley Hunt pace series. It is, however, a very beginner-friendly hunter pace that supports a great cause, so we hope you can join us.
The next Rocky Fork Headley Hunt pace is at Timber Run on August 11 and will return to the usual hills, cross country jumps, and water crossings. Check out our pace page for details and see all the results from the June 9 pace.
Participating in mounted hound exercise is a good way to accustom your horse to some of the sights and sounds of fox hunting. However, due to the slow, stop-and-go nature of mounted hound training and exercise, even experienced hunt horses can easily become stressed, frustrated, and overwhelmed if a rider attempts to literally follow the hounds without providing their horse with the physical and mental changes of pace that tend to occur in an actual hunt. It should not be a surprise, then, that more horse-assisted unplanned dismounts (aka getting bucked off) occur during mounted hound exercise than hunting.
In order to keep mounted hound exercise fun and—especially—safe for all involved, we’ve compiled a few tips and some reminders of hunt protocol.
First, a quick refresher on hunt protocol:
Hounds, huntsmen, and staff always have right-of-way. Stay alert, be prepared to make way, and try to never get between staff and hounds.
If a hound or staff member enters the trail near you, move your horse as far away as possible and keep your horse’s rear pointed away. It is your responsibility to prevent your horse from scaring, trampling, or kicking a hound, even when they unexpectedly pop out of the woods near your horse.
Refrain from speaking to the hounds while they are working unless asked to do so.
Good trail etiquette always applies: maintain a safe riding distance, be polite, and pay attention to the needs and safety of the riders around you.
And some tips for a more enjoyable outing:
Ride with a buddy and a plan. Pick one thing to work on together, and then arrange your ride accordingly.
Pick and choose where and how you interact with the hounds and other riders. There are a number of wide areas along the normal exercise route that are good places to let your horse observe the hounds, staff, and other riders without getting trapped among them.
Take a break. Between the activity and wide-open spaces, it’s not hard to end up with a death grip on the bit and a horse that’s ready to explode. Riding to hounds is supposed to be fun for you and your horse, so a wise rider realizes when it’s time to take a quiet hack and unwind. Patience makes a mannerly hunt horse.
And, finally, we hope you’ll stay and socialize after your ride. We’d like to meet you!
It was a really fun evening April 21 at the Thrills Chills and Spills Party celebrating the Rocky Fork hunt riders who unintentionally parted from their mount the past hunt season. Each of the “fallen” shared their story about how their particular contact with the ground took place.
Of course, few stories could be substantiated but sometimes you cannot hide the evidence…..
Also recognized at our end of season annual event was several of our hunt members and their mounts. Not shown are our star pace volunteers Brian and Becca, Brianne and Doug,
Thirty-three riders braved the damp weather on Saturday, November 4, to participate in the Blessing of the Hounds ceremony. The ensuing two-hour hunt was fast and furious, with the hounds giving voice through much of it. Huntsman Sally Crane Cox and her crew were able to lead the hounds to the picnic shelter where spectators were awaiting their arrival. After the hounds were loaded safely into the hound truck, the riders were served libations and the spectators happily mingled with the smiling, exhilarated riders. Afterwards, more than 90 riders and friends—including many Pony Clubbers–enjoyed a delicious brunch at the Rocky Fork Hunt and Country Club, arranged by Melissa Will.
The Reverend Maggie Leidheiser-Stoddard, assisting Priest at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Worthington was our officiant at the Blessing. Our bagpiper, who led the procession of riders into the semi-circle, was Scott Caputo, the Pipe Major of the Capital City Pipes and Drums.
Our official photographer was Chuck Miele, whose photographs can be found at chuckm.exposuremanager.com. There are some wonderful photos; please take a look. John McKean, another professional photographer who rode in the Blessing, took many lovely candid photographs and has posted them on the Rocky Fork Headley Hunt Facebook page.
And if you want to experience he Blessing Hunt from the comfort of your chair, be sure, check out John McKean’s video of the whole ride. Maybe next year you can join in the fun!
A particular thank-you to all the volunteers who made the Blessing of the Hounds the smoothest-run Blessing to date.
The first MFHA Central District Meeting held September 15 – 17, 2017 at our home territory in Gahanna. In addition to Rocky Fork Headley Hunt members, there was representation from the Waterloo Hunt (Michigan), Camargo Hunt (Cincinnati), and Miami Valley Hunt (Dayton). The meeting was an opportunity to build many new relationships. Participants discussed a variety of topics affecting Hunt Clubs including land constraints, hunting legislation, recruitment of members 501(c)3 options and how hunts can better communicate to avoid event conflicts.
In addition to the formal business meeting and dinner Saturday night, there was a Friday night reception, Saturday morning hunt and brunch, and a Sunday trail ride, There was tremendous support from our membership in all of the events, which made the visiting hunts feel very welcomed. A special thanks to our amazing landowners, and volunteers for making this event a success.
The Thrills, Chills and Champagne Chills party, held every year at the close of the Hunt season, is one of Rocky Fork Headley Hunt’s most popular events. Wonderfully planned by our social chair, Melissa, the TSC, fueled by a chicken and champagne dinner, went off without a hitch on the beautiful, sunny (and windy) April day.
The event showcases year end awards for Best Hunt Horse, Most Courteous Rider, Best Whipper-in and Volunteers of the Year. This season’s Best Hunt Horse award went to Midnight, owned and ridden by Mark Masters. The most courteous rider was Mara Lewis. The Best Whipper-in award went to Charles Dougan. Along with Anne Kennedy (who can forget the Tally Hoedown?), Charles was also awarded Volunteer of the Year.
And then, the party moved on to the tales of woe! Everyone who had an unplanned dismount got to put their own spin on the hapless episode. It is not a requirement to speak, but our members can turn equivocation into an art form, to the delight of the nearly 50 in attendance. The Elite Eight were: Susie Preston, Mark Masters, Dennis Brandon, Rosalind Mercier, Diane McMullen, Lorraine Teets, Sally Crane Cox, and Bruce Mandeville.
In a touching tribute to all our hunt mounts, Charles proclaimed his horse, Remington, a saint for taking care of him after a dizzying encounter with a tree at Gibson Custer …and for keeping the truth of that day under his saddle. Charles played the starring role in the premier of the indie film production “Knocked Out Cold”to track down the dastardly Tree Who Done It to him.
The season ending party is a tribute to the good humor and camaraderie of our members. We are again grateful to end our season without serious injury to hound, horse or rider in the hunt field. And we can’t wait to see what the upcoming hunt season will bring!
The members of Rocky Fork Headley Hunt celebrated the 2017 running of the Kentucky Derby with a gathering at The Old Horseshoe Inn in Johnstown Ohio that is owned and operated by hunt members, Dave and Susan Straub. Members enjoyed a lovely buffet and signature drinks served from 4:30 to 7:30 while watching the races leading up to the annual run for the roses. Two people picked the winning horse, Always Dreaming, and split a sizable cash prize.
Following the race, a contest for best Derby Day attire was held, and judges selected the best hat and best tie. It was a tough competition! The winner of the best hat was Beth for her original homemade hat that exuded scenery of Churchill downs with horses, racetrack elements and a real birds nest. The winner for the best tie was Tim with his multi colored horse tie. Winners were awarded a pair of 2017 Derby glasses with a bottle of Markers Mark.
We would like to thank all those who supported and made the Derby Day a fun celebration; Dave and Susan Straub, Polly Lindeman, and the Rocky Fork Hunt social committee.