Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Foxhunters on Parade

The second event in the Equine Performing Arts Series happened Saturday, November 13 when representatives of the Aiken Hounds and Why Worry Hounds arrived at Hopeland Farms for the Foxhunting Parade of Hounds and Hunt Breakfast. The event was part of a series is sponsored by the Equine Steering Committee of the Greater Aiken Chamber of Commerce. The series is intended to help connect the Aiken’s equestrian community with the community at large by providing educational events showcasing various equestrian disciplines.

A rather large crowd came out to Hopeland Farms, where they were served brunch under a tent overlooking a rolling field and a few hunt type jumps. There were various foxhunting exhibits on site, including a dog kennel holding a number of extremely sweet-looking young foxhounds. Before the arrival of the hunts themselves, guests were entertained by a string quartet.

The parade began with George and Jeanie Thomas, Masters of Why Worry Hounds, who arrived dressed in all their hunt finery to lead the pack across the fields with the help of their whippers-in, Emma Biederman and Juli Hearn. Then, Linda Knox McLean and Katherine Gunter brought the Aiken Hounds Penn-Mary-Dels out for a quick romp up and down the hills and over a few jumps. At the end of each of the demonstrations, the masters brought their packs up to the tent where guests could get a closer look at the horses and the hounds. Some guests got a very close look at the hounds, since several of them ran into the tent, hot on the trail of some entrees. Meanwhile, several people spoke about hunting and hunt traditions, including Larry Byers, who is a foxhunter and a member of the Equine Steering Committee, and Joseph Hardiman who is the professional huntsman at Whiskey Road Foxhounds.

Although many of the people who attended the event looked as if they were already familiar with the hunt scene, there were also quite a few people there who had never before seen foxhounds or foxhunters. But even those who already knew hunting were impressed by the scenic quality of the event as the horses and hounds galloped up the hill, punctuating the muted autumn landscape with vibrant spots of color. And the hounds appreciated it too, especially the ones that got a little lucky in the tent. 

Next in the series is the Polo Asado and Tango, which will be held on Powderhouse Field (Powderhouse Road across from the Ford Conger steeplechase course). This dinner and dance will be at 6 p.m. on April 1, the night before the annual Pacers and Polo match, a game that traditionally opens the spring polo season in Aiken and is considered the third leg of the Aiken Triple Crown.

For tickets and more information, contact the Greater Aiken Chamber of Commerce. www.aikenchamber.net.

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