To qualify for the Exchange, riders had to be endorsed by the Master of their respective hunts and be a USPC member in good standing.
- Victoria Jacks, 17, Palmetto Pony Club, Carolina Region
Note: Victoria Jacks of Aiken, South Carolina and Kiersti Wylie from 3000 miles away in San Diego, California traveled to Middleburg, Virginia and northern Maryland March 1-9, 2011 to represent United States Pony Club (USPC) on a nine-day Foxhunting Exchange with Ireland and England. In total, there were two of us from the U.S., four from UK, four from Ireland and chaperones for each team!
- Nicole Williams, 8th grade
“One, two, three,” Aunt Mary counted as she lifted me onto Tango.
“Thanks!” I replied. The early morning light danced off Tango’s dappled chestnut hindquarters. I watched as she vaulted herself onto her 18.2hh Belgian draft. I pressed my heels deeper into the stirrups and repositioned myself in the deep Stubben as Tango picked up a brisk walk to the herd of horses gathered for departure.
Tango and I were to be part of the second flight of horses in the Rappahannock Hunt Club fox hunt that day. My aunt was leading the third field on Caesar, and her friend, Janet, rode my aunt’s prize mare, Ghost, to lead the first field. Third field was a hacking group, second field was hacking and some jumping, while first field was everything. I longed to be part of first field to be right up with the hounds and galloping the countryside for hours, but my aunt held me back since it was my first time riding on a fox hunt.
- Linda M. Hagerman
Pony Club Hunt With Woodbrook Hunt Club
Ears Flapping, Pigtails Bouncing, And Celtic Hoof Beats
The consistent rain, cold weather and gloom that has followed us well into spring looked like trouble for our annual pony club hunt. Woodbrook Hunt Club, southwest of Tacoma, Washington, invited the clubs from our northwest region after we gave them a hand holding clinic at the NW Conference for United States Pony Club. From the early morning rustle of horses moving about in the barn, the weather broke into sunshine and blue sky. We all marveled at the beauty of the crisp morning and knew that we were being smiled upon. It was March 19th and nine pony clubs with a head count of seventy lined up to hear the Master, Jean Brooks, give our welcoming speech. With a cry of “release the hounds”, thirteen and one half couples leaped over mud puddles with their ears in flight to see who would have the hole shot to reach the MFH first.
The scent was laid through our hunter trials course and the five flights heard the hounds give tongue on the line, lifting music to the air. Our gallop across the prairie with the Celtic thunder of hooves shaking the ground made me proud to be passing the tradition of the hunt to our future members. Through the old growth trees that cover our Kellogg Run, our pack continued over a moss carpet that reminded us of Alice In Wonderland.
The leaders of MFHA and the United States Pony Clubs are coordinating on ways to increase the participation of Pony Clubbers in our hunts and provide the next generation of hunt members. To gather some solid information on levels of participation, both success stories and potential roadblocks to participation, we have posted an online survey for hunt members.
A separate survey is in place for Pony Club members, and the results of both surveys will aid the MFHA Pony Club liaison, Nancy Ambrosiano (Caza Ladron Hunt), and the USPC Foxhunting Committee Chair Linda Hagerman (WoodBrook Hounds), in their efforts. The surveys will be in place and accessible for several weeks, so please take a few minutes and share your thoughts, and encourage others to do so as well.
- Madison Kepano, age 11
Somehow, I find it so very addicting. Addicting like I can’t stop. I don’t want to not think about it, or give up on it. It’s not like playing with a toy or a puppy; it’s running till my heart is warm, till I can’t feel my feet, till when I can hear a hound’s cry. This isn’t just a sport, it’s my favorite sport, Bear Creek Hounds foxhunting. I had the greatest day of my life.
It was a January day at 8:30 A.M when I had an experience of a lifetime—one that took my breath away. It was cool, crisp, and clean; everyone’s tack was nice and oiled and ready to go. Hounds were sniffing around to get a feel. My legs shook with cold nervousness. And then I heard the huntsman’s horn. Hearing that shining horn blow was like music to my ears.
I love it when I hear the crack of a whip. People’s horses jump in shocking motions! The Masters call out the “flights” as the horses and hounds dash forward. We were squeezed right in with first flight. We closed in tight together as we headed to our first coop! All that was running through my head was “What’s on the other side?!” But then, I just gave rein and a little heel and I landed softly as if I landed on a cloud. I remember the mud squishing under my pony’s hooves.