The Rocky Fork Headley Hunt Ball was held on May 11 and proved to be a rousing affair, capped off with a spontaneous horn blowing competition. We were thrilled to have representatives from three guest foxhunts in our region - Chagrin Valley, Miami Valley, and Camargo, as well as two basset packs - Three Creek and Okaw Valley. The night included dinner and dancing at historic Darby Dan Farm in Galloway, Ohio, owned in part by Rocky Fork member Debbie Phillips Bower.

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Selected horn blowers from each table await their turns to mimic the huntsman's calls. Photo by David Ellis.

Colin Brown, huntsman at Chagrin Valley, offered to do an "impromptu" horn blowing competition during dinner, as a fundraiser. He said he had had great success with this before and would even bring a bottle of wine as a prize (what a wonderful guy!).

And so, between the dinner and dessert courses, we "blew" everyone to attention and explained the competition. Essentially, each table was encouraged to stuff cash in a coffee cup and have at least one person from their table - who they thought might be able to blow the horn - come forward. Colin then blew the "call" they were supposed to emulate, and the fun was on!

Some had never blown any kind of horn before, two (at least) turned out to be trumpet players - even though one had not played since high school, and we had a couple of huntsman thrown in to the competitors as well. Colin played it up fantastically - often starting with a complicated hunting call (gone away, going home etc) and then, when contestants eyes were just about to pop out, backed down the required call to just a few notes. There was lots of cheering and crowd participation and it was GREAT fun in the end.

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Chagrin Valley huntsman Colin Brown, in kilt, seems uncertain about Solange Ellis' efforts on the horn. Photo by David Ellis.

All of the proceeds from the horn blowing, and the silent auction that evening, went to the Hound and Wildlife Habitat and Welfare Fund, which is a pending 501(c)(3) charitable corporation organized for the care and maintenance of retired sporting foxhounds, the protection of wildlife habitats though land conservation, and the raising of public awareness about the importance of foxhunting to the conservation of wildlife and its habitat. The organization was established early this year, and while operating at "arms length" from RFHH, we look forward to all that may be accomplished in all these areas together.

The ball's historic location was a perfect backdrop for the festivities. Darby Dan Farm was established as a racing farm in 1935 by Bower’s grandfather, the late John Galbreath, whose horses won the Kentucky Derby twice, as well as the Preakness, Belmont, Breeders Cup and the English Derby. 

Galbreath also owned the Pittsburgh Pirates from 1946-1985, during which the Pirates won the World Series three times. He is the only man in history to win both the Kentucky Derby and the World Series.

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