Just five years ago, Stephanie Boyer was preparing her horse Macloud to run the Rolex Kentucky CCI****, one of only six worldwide CCI**** three day events and the only four star held in North America. She had worked for multiple Olympic medalist Philip Dutton, Pan American Games medalist Buck Davidson, and had galloped for such notable trainers as Michael Matz (also an Olympic gold medalist) and Jonathan Sheppard. With completions at Fair Hill CCI***, Jersey Fresh CCI***, The Fork CIC***, and numerous runs at the Advanced level to her credit, the native of Thousand Oaks, CA found herself in search of something different and has happily served as First Whipper In to Mrs. Stewart's Cheshire Foxhounds for four seasons.
e-Covertside: How did you become involved with hunting?
Stephanie: I became involved with foxhunting when I took the job at Cheshire. I had only hunted one time before as a guest. I applied for the whipper-in position because I wanted a change from eventing and I was trying to find a riding job that was year round. Lucky for me, the huntsman and joint masters at Cheshire were more interested in a whipper-in that had experience crossing the country than hunting with hounds.
e-Covertside: What are the best characteristics of the pack?
Stephanie: The best characteristics of this pack are their nose, voice, and their ability to hunt as a pack.
e-Covertside: What are the best characteristics of the organization?
Stephanie: The best characteristic of Cheshire is definitely our country. We work closely with different conservancies and preservation organizations in the area to keep land open. Most properties have old hunting easements on them thanks to the generations of foxhunters before us.
e-Covertside: How did your eventing experience help you transition into your current role?
Stephanie: My eventing experience crossing the country was the most helpful into my transition to foxhunting. Riding cross country is more than just the running and jumping over tricky terrain. In eventing and foxhunting you have to know how to ride a tired horse that needs to keep going; you have to be comfortable riding off a horse's back on a loose rein, not going for big distances to the fences, also how to save your horse's energy for when you need it.
e-Covertside: Name three things you never hunt without.
Stephanie: Hair net, Leatherman, and hound list.
e-Covertside: What makes your country unique?
Stephanie: Cheshire territory is so unique because we have such a healthy red fox population. We also have good coverts and rolling grass land that is a continuous hunt country. From the kennels we don't have t drive further than 15 minutes to a meet.
e-Covertside: What are some of your goals for the pack? What personal goals do you have?
Stephanie: The goal for this pack is to cross the PennMaryDel to the English (which has been done successfully over the last 10 years) and be able to breed this "Cheshire Crossbred" back to a "Cheshire crossbred".
My personal goal is to one day be able to hunt this pack. Cheshire has a history of women hunting the hounds. Master Huntsman Mrs. Nancy Penn Smith Hannum hunted the hounds and her daughter Carol Hannum Davidson has hunted hounds on occasion as well. I would like to be the next woman to blow the horn, even if it is just one time.
e-Covertside: Any memorable experiences you’d like to share?
Stephanie: I was lucky enough to be accepted into the Professional Developing Program with the MFHA last season. I don't come from any sort of hunting background so this was exactly the course I needed so I can whip-in at my fullest potential. The program was an unbelievable experience that I would highly recommend to everyone.
e-Covertside: Do you have hobbies outside of hunting?
Stephanie: I am really getting into my yoga practice, it's a challenge but incredibly rewarding. I tried my hand at needle point this fall but it resulted in a chipped tooth! So needless to say I have given up on that.