Thursday, January 21, 2010

Foxhunting Frenzy

The weather up north has been frightful this year, so it’s little wonder that large numbers of foxhunters have decided to take an Aiken vacation this February. Every year, Whiskey Road Foxhounds’ Hunt Week welcomes scores of horses and riders from Virginia, Maryland, New York, Toronto and other points north for a generous seven days of sport. Hunt week has had a smaller following over the past few years, because of the weak economy and the high price of gas. But this year, according to Gail Flintom who is in charge of the event, the numbers promise to be huge.

“It will be more like the Hunt Weeks of a few years ago,” she says. “We’ll probably have fields of over 100 riders. We’ll divide those into three flights, first flight, second flight and hilltoppers.”

Hunt Week runs from February 3 through 11 and will include five days of live hunting, as well as the opportunity to go out with the Aiken Hounds drag hunt on Saturday morning, February 6. The largest field will be on Sunday, February 7, when the hunt meets at Sage Valley, where there has been some good sport already this season thanks to the large population of coyotes, foxes and bobcats there. This meet will be followed by a hunt breakfast at Sage Valley Hunt Club.

The social calendar begins with a welcoming reception at the Aiken County Historical Museum on Wednesday, February 3. Other events include the Friday night Hunt Ball at Woodside Plantation, the Monday night Hitchcock Woods benefit gala, a cocktail party given by Equine Divine and numerous other parties, hunt teas and hunt breakfasts. When the traveling foxhunters return home, they will probably need some time to rest up from their vacation.

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