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Chula Homa Opening Meet


By Allison Crews and Sue Skipper

The Chula Homa Hunt hosted its thirty-first Annual Opening Meet and Blessing of the Hounds at Gulhaven Plantation, the home of Mr. and Mrs. Lee Clemons on November 9, 2013 in Canton, Mississippi. More than 50 riders and 200 spectators from Mississippi, Arkansas, Tennessee, Alabama, and Louisiana attended. In keeping with Downton Abbey tradition, five ladies rode aside, or sidesaddle, and three of them led the field.

Each lady was riding in a unique Sidesaddle, and one was of particular historical importance. The ladies wore silk hats and bowlers for pictures, and then changed to safety helmets for the fox hunt. In the photos, the silk hats are shown with hat cords and veils. The five aside riders were:

Ellery Chancellor, from MS, age 17, riding in a Whippy Sidesaddle circa 1940, on a 5-year-old gray OTTB mare. This was her first time fox hunting aside

Maddie Bennett, from MS, age 14, riding in a Modern Sidesaddle circa 1980, on a 10-year-old pinto Appendix QH gelding. This was also her first time fox hunting aside.

Meredith Johnson, from TN, age 19, riding in an Elan Sidesaddle circa 1990, on an 8-year-old black QH mare. Her first time fox hunting aside, too.

Sudie Moyse, from LA, also riding in an Elan Sidesaddle circa 1990, on a 10-year-old Appaloosa mare. Her first time fox hunting aside.

Allison Crews, from MS, riding in a Champion and Wilton Sidesaddle Circa 1938 made for Lady Cheswick in England. The saddle spent the past ten years in Ireland before finding its way to Allison. Allison rode a 10-year-old gray OTTB gelding. Allison has been foxhunting for 15 years aside! She led first flight aside and had two other aside riders up front with her the whole day.

It was a beautiful day as the hounds stood eagerly awaiting their biscuits during the blessing. The stirrup cup was passed and riders started out.  Very eager hounds pressed into the coverts and an overzealous Zoey spoke first.  After a few minutes she was honored by O’Brien, Zorro and Walnut.  The hounds carried the line briefly back toward where the Tally Ho wagons had just left.  We continued on, but scenting was not favorable to carrying a line for long, so we proceeded to check point where riders, spectators and hounds enjoyed a variety of treats.  Hounds enjoyed dog biscuits fed to them by children and children enjoyed the hounds’ appreciative nuzzles and licks.  We then headed back as hounds picked up a line going in the wrong direction, so staff brought them back. All had a good time!

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