Trainer and Coach Program

Trainer and Coach Program

Whether your chosen field of riding expertise is in the show ring over fences or going down the center line for dressage, or tackling new trails both in Ohio and afar, fox chasing can provide exceptional cross training for both horse and rider and we would love to share this opportunity with you!

Because each of us brings with us our own set of riding skills and background, and because we want – above all – for you and your student’s riding experience with Rocky Fork Headley Hunt to be mutually enjoyable and safe, we require trainers and coaches to participate in a short fox-chasing course before bringing students and horses into the field.

Interested trainers and coaches may apply to participate in the half-day course that emphasizes rider/horse/hound safety and gives insight into the traditions and protocols of fox-chasing in general, as well as those specific to the Rocky Fork Headley Hunt. It includes mounted and unmounted phases and is held in conjunction with a regular club mounted hound-walk. Dates and times for the short course will be set on an ‘as needed’ basis, every effort will be made to make this course available to interested (but busy) trainers and coaches!DSC02968

Following successful completion of this course, the coach/trainer may, with permission from a RFHH Master, school a student or horse during hound-walking, a “Ramble” or hunt. ~ Permission to school a student on a hunt day must be obtained from one of the Masters before the day of the hunt, capping fee will apply.

COST There is no fee to apply for or participate in this program, the fox-chasing ‘short course’, or for schooling during regular hound-walks or “Summer Ambles”. However – trainers, coaches and students attending a hunt as participants/guests of this program are assessed fees (“Capping Fees”) as follows:

Schooling/Preparing the Riding StudentTrainers Cap Fee -$40.00*

Student Cap Fee – $40.00**

Schooling/Preparing the HorseTrainer’s Cap Fee $40.00*

*If a non-subscribing member of RFHH is coaching or training under this program, their normal 3 hunt annual limit is waived.
** The student may hunt a total of 3 times ONLY unless application for either subscribing or social membership is made.

For more information, please contact the Membership Chair, Stephanie Phillips, at 614-286-1744 or at

Members Cook Book

Members Cook Book

Rocky Fork Headley Hunt is creating a custom cookbook featuring favorite recipes from our members and a history of social gatherings for our club. These cookbooks will be professionally published and are sure to be a treasured keepsake for us all. Money raised will be used for the care and maintenance of our hounds and kennel.

Please submit 3-5 of your favorite recipes so you can be represented in our cookbook. Many recipes from all members will ensure that our cookbook is a success. We are using Morris Press Cookbook’s web site to easily submit recipes online. If you do not have Internet access, our committee can enter them for you. Submit hard copies of your recipes to Stephanie Ferris Jones.

We anticipate great demand for our cookbooks, and we want to be certain to order enough. Coming soon is information on how to pre-order and reserve your copies. The cookbooks will be available for pick-up and sale at the Blessing of the Hounds in November. Just in time to wrap up as the perfect gift for family and friends. Please submit your recipes online by August 1st so we can meet our deadline. Thank you!

To Submit Recipes Online:

· Go to and click ‘Login.’
· Enter the User Name: RockyFork
· Enter the password: Hunt123 and click ‘Submit.’
· Enter your name and click ‘Continue.’
· Click ‘Add Recipes’ to begin adding your recipes.

Recipe Writing Tips:
· When adding recipes, review the “Tips” and use standard abbreviations.
· Only enter 1 ingredient per ingredient line.
· List ingredients in order of use in the ingredients list and directions.
· Include container sizes, e.g., (16-oz.) pkg., (24-oz.) can. · Write directions in paragraph form, not in steps.
· Use names of ingredients in the directions, e.g., “Combine flour and sugar.” DO NOT use statements like, “Combine first three ingredients.”
· Include temperatures and cooking, chilling, baking, and/or freezing times.
· Additional comments about the recipe (history, nutritional data, suggested uses, etc.) are not allowed unless a “Recipe Note” field is visible. Enter extra recipe content in that field.

Click ‘Preview’ to view your recipe and proofread. Once you are satisfied with your recipe click ‘Save’ to submit to our collection

Before you enter your recipe you can click ‘View Recipes’ to see what other recipes have already been submitted to our collection.

If you would like to make a correction after you have saved the recipe, contact Stephanie J, Cookbook Recipe Sub-Committee Chair, to make corrections.

2020 Hunter Paces

2020 Hunter Paces

2020 Hunter Pace Series

Things this year will look and run just a bit different due to COVID-19. All signups will be done electronically.
Sign Up for August 8 Pace

Rocky Fork Headley Hunt invites you to enjoy hunter paces with us!

  Hunter paces are fun, lightly competitive rides through our beautiful hunt territory. Teams of 2 or 3 riders choose from fast, moderate, or slow paces and attempt to ride the course in the optimal time for their chosen speed.  Riders generally encounter a variety of terrain, from open meadows to wooded trails, stream crossings, and hills on the 4 to 7-mile long course.  A variety of jumps appear throughout the course, but jumping is strictly optional.

Ribbons are awarded to the top eight teams riding each pace. Come early and ride twice! Below are the division speeds and start times:

  • First Flight 10 mph is for the most aggressive riders, and mimics hunting first field.  Average speed is a slow gallop with occasional breathers. These riders start on course in the first half-hour between 9 a.m. and 9:30 a.m so they won’t be passing slower riders.
  • Second Flight 7 mph is for moderate riders, like hunting second field.  Most riders trot and canter interspersed with short walks.  Note, you will be sharing the course with slower riders, and, for safety, we ask that you slow to the walk or slow trot and ask permission to pass.
  • Scenic Cruisers  at 4 mph is like our hilltopping third field.  Average speed is a brisk walk with an occasional trot. Expect to be passed by faster teams and, where possible, you should move to the side and turn your horse’s head to face the other horses in a hunting maneuver called “making way”.

Looking forward to seeing you in 2020

Questions?  Contact the Rocky Fork Pace Chair.

2020 Hunter Pace Dates

All Riders Welcome

– English or Western
– Helmets Required
– No dogs, please

Call before you Haul

In the event of bad weather, contact the Rocky Fork Message line for cancellation information (888) 619-2227.

RFHH Pace Updates

Foxhunting Etiquette FAQs

Foxhunting Etiquette FAQs

Here is are some questions that you might have had about foxhunting (and were afraid to ask).


Traditional etiquette states that “Riders are not to get between the huntsman and hounds.” It’s not that big a deal, is it? The hound is in my way, and I trust my horse not to step on it.
The huntsman works the hounds by casting and retrieving: sending them into covert to search for scent and then, if they don’t find, calling them back to move on to the next likely patch. This not only allows the huntsman to work a fixture thoroughly and methodically and be present when quarry is found, the hounds obeying and returning to the huntsman maintains the “invisible leash” between huntsman and hounds. If a hound is discouraged from returning to the huntsman, such as if he or she is intimidated by a horse, the hound will often start to hunt on its own. Frequently, this leads to general disobedience and splitting of the pack, with some hounds honoring the huntsman and others running amok. A disobedient, split pack can eventually lead to outings that are spent looking for and collecting hounds rather than hunting, and reversing the problem takes a great deal of effort, time, and even breeding or drafting new hounds. Riders of the day can help maintain the best possible hunting pack by staying alert to hounds approaching from any direction and moving their horse as far away as possible from the hound and a clear path back to the huntsman.
Traditional etiquette calls for field riders to be silent during a hunt. We haven’t seen a thing: chatting softly to pass the time can’t possibly hurt, can it?
There are good reasons for riders of the day to be as stealthy as possible. Firstly, human voices carry a surprisingly long distance, and it’s very easy to forget just how loudly you are speaking to another rider some distance away. Under the right conditions, wild animals can hear you talking from the other side of the fixture. Warier game, including predators like fox and coyotes, may simply leave until things quiet down and ensure that nobody “sees a thing”. Secondly, hunt staff spend a great deal of time listening for game and hounds moving through the woods, and for the huntsman’s horn calls. A chatty field, even some distance away, can easily drown out hunting sounds and ruin the day for everyone who is focused on the hunt rather than on the ride and company. While horses are not silent, they don’t alarm game the way ‘human’ noises do and quiet riders can often get close to wild animals. Fields who refrain from speaking may even be the next to call “Tally ho!”
What, exactly, are the whippers-in doing out there? They seem to either be sitting around or rudely rushing by, disrupting the field. Must be nice to do whatever you want!
What, exactly, are the whippers-in doing out there? They seem to either be sitting around or rudely rushing by, disrupting the field. Must be nice to do whatever you want! The whippers-in are the huntsman’s assistants. As such, they have several jobs: Try to keep the hounds out of danger, including away from busy roads and dangerous areas like cliffs; try to keep the hounds in the fixture and, especially, away from sensitive or hostile land owners; assist with training, including by breaking ‘riots’ by chastising hounds who are chasing the wrong quarry (such as deer); and help the huntsman locate and retrieve hounds that have become separated. We typically have 3 or 4 whippers-in working at each hunt. Given the size of our fixtures, each is—on average–covering several hundred acres of land and a mile or two of road frontage. Hounds on a scent can travel as fast as a galloping horse and don’t need to stick to trails, so the whippers-in are constantly listening and trying to calculate where he or she needs to be in order to intercept the hounds, should it become necessary. Frequently, the hounds are moving slowly enough that the whipper-in has time to avoid the hunt fields and areas of covert the huntsman has not yet drawn when traveling to a new vantage point. Occasionally, the hounds will unexpectedly bolt toward danger, and the whipper-in must ride as fast as possible without regard for who or what might be in the way. Hunting the hounds can be stressful and dangerous—it’s not a coincidence that no other group of riders is as well-represented at Spills and Chills as huntsmen and whippers-in. And the potential downside is large, ranging from a beloved hound we raised from a puppy being killed on the road to antagonizing landowners and potentially losing fixtures. Field riders can help whippers-in and huntsmen get to the hounds quickly and safely by remaining alert for approaching riders and being prepared to “make way” by creating a clear, open pathway past the field.
The huntsman seems to make different sounds with the horn throughout the hunt. Does it mean something? Do the hounds understand?
Horn calls have a long tradition in foxhunting, and are the huntsman’s primary means of communicating with hounds and staff. Some of the most common calls you’ll hear at RFHH are as follows: Short ‘toots’ indicate the huntsman’s current location. Hounds and whippers-in use these bursts to maintain position relative to the huntsman as she moves through the fixture. Long ‘blasts’ mean “recall” or “come here” to the hounds—the huntsman is preparing to lift them from the current covert and move to a new area. Sometimes it means the hounds are starting to investigate a deer trail or other non-legitimate line, and the huntsman wants them to “leave it” and return to her. And, finally, the huntsman blows an exuberant fanfare to reward and encourage the hounds when they have found the scent of a fox or coyote. It makes sense, then, that a single, very long blast marks “end of day” as humans and hounds alike ‘pack in’ and return to the trailers.
One of the whippers-in was yelling angrily at the hounds and cracking his whip. It sounded really bad. What is going on?
Hounds, like other dogs, respond well to praise and gentle guidance, and that is the norm for RFHH’s hound handling. The single exception is when a hound does something that absolutely cannot be allowed, such as giving in to the urge to chase deer, dogs, or livestock instead of fox or coyote. Pursuing non-legitimate game is called “rioting”, and it is behavior that no huntsman can tolerate in a pack of foxhounds. One of the whippers-in’s jobs is to observe what game the hounds are pursuing, stand on the fresh scent trail left by fleeing deer, and tell any hounds chasing it quite firmly how following that particular scent is absolutely not allowed. Hounds are then praised for returning to the huntsman and seeking legitimate game.
I don’t want to annoy any our land owners or huntsmen, but I’m not always sure where to ride or what do to. Help!
Good question! There may be as many opinions about how best to respect our land owners and their property as we have land owners! Normally, your field master should know whose property you are riding on and what the landowner expects, and can advise you. However, in general: -Avoid riding anywhere you’ll create divots that obviously damage property, such as in lawns (even where they border the road). -Avoid riding where you can damage a commercial crop, including planted crop fields or on hay that has been cut for baling. -Minimize traffic across fallow (harvested) crop fields when the ground is soft. If you must cross, spread out the compaction damage and divots caused by hooves. -Remove, or at least scatter, horse manure from places the residents are likely to notice, such as on pavement or near homes. Pretend you live there—what would you expect? -Try to avoid riding through covert that has not yet been visited by huntsman and hounds, as doing so can spoil it for the day’s hunting. -Be sure to acknowledge and thank everyone you encounter during the day’s outing. If possible, dismount (“get off your high horse”) to speak with a person who is on foot.
I’d really like to learn the fixtures better. Can I go out and ride on non-hunting days?
Of our hunt fixtures, only a portion of the Kennel fixture and Taft Reserve are available to ride outside of organized hunts, trail rides, and paces, and then only if the ground is dry enough to not be seriously damaged. At the Kennels, you’ll need to contact the MFH for advance permission. The attached map shows the landowners in the Kennel fixture who allow our members to trail ride, including the semi-organized rides during hound exercise. Please respect all of our landowners by not riding where we are not invited, including across the creek and west of the picnic shelter (Dunn’s woods and crop field, particularly near the houses) and in areas that are clearly mowed or landscaped by homeowners. Taft Reserve is administered by the Licking County Parks, whose trail closure hotline is 740-349-4823. The parkland includes the South Reserve area where we park our trailers for hunts, extending north past Ghost Town and all the way to the north entrance on Flint Ridge Road. Park trails are marked with trail numbers and signs. There are no crop fields, deer stands, or residences in the park. If you’d like to learn the fixtures better, please come to our regularly-scheduled trail clearing sessions. There is nothing like walking a section of trail for helping you learn it really, really well!
Riding with Hounds

Riding with Hounds

Hound Walking

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.

Hounds and 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.

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.
Great Lakes Invitational Hound Show

Great Lakes Invitational Hound Show

– by Master Stephanie –

The inaugural Great Lakes Invitational Hound Show hosted by, and held on the spectacular grounds of the Chagrin Valley Hunt, took place on Saturday, July 13, 2019. Loraine  and I took six hounds to participate: 3-year-old males – Ringo, Robert, Rumble, 7-year-old Pistol, as well as 3-year-old bitches– Quiver and Quirk. When we arrived, we were met by CVH Huntsman Colin Brown (FYI, Colin ran the spontaneous horn blowing contest at the RFHH Ball – aka, the guy in the kilt…). We did a quick tour of the show area – a lovely, shady venue on the lawn sporting a sturdy (and TALL) fence enclosing the hound showing area, surrounded by spacious tents and seating on 3 sides as well as tree-shaded chain-linked day-kennels for each club to use so that hounds could be at the ready when their classes were called. Then Colin showed us our hounds’ guest quarters and helped us get them from the truck to kennel, and situated.

As nervous as I was about actually showing the hounds (not ever having done it before), most of my nerves were focused on how the hounds would take to the travel, new kennels as well as the show ring itself. Happy to report that the hounds nestled comfortably in the newly refreshed straw of the hound truck for the drive north, and adapted to their lovely, cool guest quarters with apparent ease. While they did not eat much kibble over the next 36 hours, they drank with abandon and were rested and fresh for the big day.

Loraine and I stayed in a spacious (and mercifully COOL) room in the CVH Clubhouse. This was a bonus in many ways, including the fact that we had scant time to shower and dress for the Friday evening cocktail party also held in the clubhouse. The party was lovely and, as is the norm when foxhunters converge, conversation flowed with ease. Erstwhile strangers became instant friends, and then dinner companions as the cocktail party migrated (on foot) across a picturesque bridge into Gates Mills and into a fabulous restaurant called ‘Sara’s Place’. MUCH later, Loraine and I – again patting ourselves on the back for opting to stay at the CVH Clubhouse, “ambled” cheerfully back across the bridge, and to bed.

The next morning, a quick (and satisfying) check on our hounds followed by a delicious breakfast in the clubhouse, led to the serious business of hound clean-up and preparation. Baby wipes across smudged hound bodies, ear inspection and last-minute pep-talks were accomplished. Then, right on cue, Robyn and Neil Fillman arrived to help escort the ‘boys’ to the day kennels by the show ring.

Our Judges for the show were David Twiggs, the Executive Director of the MFHA and Andrew Barclay, former huntsman for Green Spring Valley (1981 – 2001) and the current chief instructor and mentor for the MFHA Professional Development Program. There were 4 foxhunts showing hounds – Chagrin Valley Hunt, Rolling Rock Hunt, Miami Valley Hunt and Rocky Fork Headley Hunt. Our two favorite Basset Packs were also present – Ron Ausman’s Okaw Valley pack and Lei Ruckle’s Three Creek Bassets.
Showing hounds with Lei was her joint master, Laura Carpenter Balding who had come in from Missouri for the show.

As we learned, showing our hounds involved two aspects. The first was to present the hound to the judges for confirmation assessment. While our hounds stood well, a little kibitzing from the judges on how to present them best was WELL received by the RFHH team and implemented as the classes progressed. The second aspect is to show the hound in motion. Most huntsmen/handlers employed the ‘biscuit toss’ technique to move their hounds. The handler tossed a biscuit for the hound, who runs to it, and once snapped up, makes a sharp turn back to handler who then throws another biscuit in the other direction – a full 360-degree picture of foxhound athleticism.

Well…….lets just say that we have some work to do on this part of showing hounds. The MFHA rules for hound shows stipulate that only dry biscuits (read: NOT hotdogs) may be used in hound presentation. Although I have not actually compared them myself, our hounds were unanimous in their preference for the wet meaty hotdog bits and profoundly eschewed the dry milk bone bits, leaving Loraine and I to come up with acceptable alternatives to show their ambulatory prowess…..more on that later.

The first class for us was the Entered Males. Loraine and I presented Robert and Ringo on our leads. They were both favorably received by the judges but, could not be persuaded to show that their beauty was in function as well as form. Instead, they sweetly greeted the show photographer, ring steward and some of the other hounds in their off-lead jaunts about the ring. Just so you know – our hounds were not the only ones to choose to amble over rather than running in the ring. Out of the four hunts presented, only two hunts had shown hounds anytime in the past 20 odd years, and both by a professional huntsman. That said, even a few of the professional’s hounds had also not quite grasped the proper response to the biscuit toss. In any case – Loraine and I left the first class sans ribbons but better educated and, of course, with excellent hounds in hand.

Our next class was the Stallion Class and featured Pistol, the proud father of our ‘Q’ and ‘R’ hounds. Pistol presented well in-hand, but, again, opted to show his sociable side as opposed to exerting himself over a dry biscuit. I noted that the other hounds presented were also notably younger than Pistol. Not that Pistol is officially ‘long in the tooth’, but his muzzle and eyebrows are noticeably lighter than in his earlier years. Nonetheless, Pistol came away with a third-place ribbon and the crowd went wild! Well, Loraine and I did anyway. Actually – there was great comradery amongst the competitors, so there was much cheering over ALL the hounds.

Rumble’s turn came in the Junior Handler’s Class which took place during the lunch break. As some of you know, Rumble was in the capable hands of Piper Ellis with her parents, David and Solange during our Blessing service last November. At that time, Rumble was just past 2 years old, and while friendly – not overly bold, and a bit sensitive to noise. With the quiet help of his girl Piper, Rumble’s Blessing experience was a great positive for him, so it was an easy call to ask if Piper would handle Rumble in this class. Fortunately, Piper (et al) agreed and the picture says it all. A peaceful and happy Rumble went everywhere Piper did in the ring and stood very well when presented to the Judge (Mrs. Laura Robinson Mock, MFH Chagrin Valley Hunt). The pair came away with a fourth-place ribbon in the class, but remain, as always, number one in our hearts.

Lunch – a beautiful affair with burgers, brats, fruit and leaf salad, fabulously cold water and chilled Prosecco in the shade of the tent and trees – accomplished, it was the girls turn to go. We retired the boys back to the main kennel for some well deserved quiet time and brought Quiver and Quirk to the day kennel.

The Entered Bitch Class was called and Loraine and I proudly presented the hounds to the judges. Determined to show their movement, as well as their beauty, and knowing that the dry biscuit was NOT going to prove incentive enough, we opted for a non- traditional approach. When the judges asked us to remove the leads and show the hounds ‘at large’, I took off in front of them shouting “Hark, Hark to me!” A move definitely not in the MFHA playbook, it was genially tolerated by the judges and both hounds showed off their moves – at least for a brief spurt. Fortunately, it was enough for the judges to call Quirk back into the line-up for another confirmation look, and ultimately earn her a third in the class (the most hotly contested class of the day – 10 entries!)

Tired, hot and very pleased with our hounds, Loraine and I took the girls back to chill with their kennel mates while we settled our room in the clubhouse and prepared to leave. The feat accomplished, we were just heading back to the kennels to load hounds when we were pulled (well – there was actually very little encouragement needed) into the pub room at the clubhouse for parting cocktails and more visiting. Both judges, several huntsmen, masters and lots of competitors cooled off, swapped stories and wet our whistles before heading off to our respective kennels. For the record, I had two cups of (much needed) coffee since I was driving – – Loraine SAID she had coffee but….. Two hours after we intended to leave, we finally did – and had a blissfully uneventful ride home. The hounds returned to their kennels, drank heartily, were snuffled noisily by their mates from stem to stern, and most retired with a sigh, to their beds. The one exception was Pistol. I did one more check of the traveled hounds before closing the kennel and did not see him in his kennel. I wondered if he had gone out to his yard, but a quick look assured me that he was not there. My tired mind was starting to come up with unpleasant scenarios as I mentally re-checked our entry back to the RFHH kennels….I know he was there when we arrived….. Finally, squatting down to look, I found Pistol underneath his bench, sprawled out all the way in the back – and snoring. Looked like a great idea – Loraine and I blew kisses to them all and took ourselves home.

SPECIAL Thanks to Neil and Robyn Fillman for the pictures and support – and to Loraine, who boldly went with me where neither of us had ever gone before!