It was rainy and cold and windy and, well, weather only a true fox hunter could embrace. When we moved off the clouds hung low, about to open at any moment in one of the many recent rain showers that our area in Tennessee has had of late. I told myself to stiffen the sinews, that this one was going to be instantly felt right to the core, but off we went, the stalwart Hillsboro Hounds Master, staff, and riders.
The going was slippery, the hunting hard, we crossed a very “swift” creek (more like a raging river), climbed over wet rocks, and up steep hills, slipping and sliding like our horses were on glass. All the while our mounts calmly took their jobs in stride and performed admirably. The quarry had bedded down hoping to wait us out having no intention of making an appearance on such a challenging day. The staff and hounds were trying so hard; we had been out for about an hour, and the clouds opened and we were drenched in a moment. As we sat atop one of the many beautiful hills in our hunt country shivering, trying to find any sort of tree cover I started casting my eyes to see evidence of anything moving.
Then I witnessed a wonderful scene, one I was not remotely expecting. There, standing together, I saw one of the oldest and the youngest member of our hunt waiting together at a check. It was so touching and a perfect photo op. There stood Bill Andrews, who is 87, in his 45th year of hunting, who has hunted both in the field and as Master of the Middlebury and Litchfield Hunts. He was on his 16.2hh draft cross, Regis. Alongside him was Audri Hoos, age nine, who was required to make good grades and to keep her 13.1hh pony, Boo Ribbon, in condition before she could come out for her first hunt. And what a first hunt it was! One that would have caused the less determined to turn around and go home. She was accompanied by her mom and dad, Sarah and Josh, who - including her grandparents, Lori and Bill Hoos - made her the fourth generation hunter in her family! It was truly a cherished moment in time for everyone there.
When asked, Bill and Audri patiently posed for the photo, as did their dear mounts, as the driving rain temporarily stopped. The moment spoke volumes about our sport, our hunt, the history of both and how the continuum goes. The experienced hunter alongside the new, and each enjoying the other for what they give to our sport. The patience of years and anticipation of youth were showing clearly in this instant, this flash in time.
When the rain started again, it didn't matter one bit to Bill or Audri. They pressed on, enjoyed a run, and came in with lots of smiles. We all hope they will press on foxhunting for a long time to come!