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Articles

Oak Grove Junior Hunt


2020/02/03








By Tommy Brannon, MFH

Oak Grove Hunt Club hosted a Junior and guest hunt near Holly Springs, Miss. on January 4, 2020 at Lodge Farm, home of Dr. Shannon and Amanda McGee, MFH. The Oak Grove kennel is located there and it is one of Oak Grove’s regular fixtures. In addition to Oak Grove members, attending the hunt were ten guest riders from Hunters Edge Stables, including owner and trainer Bennie Cone. Beanie said that most of the riders were in their mid teens and were used to riding in an enclosed ring rather than in open fields and forest. They were very accomplished riders, however, and Bennie said everyone had a blast!

Adding to the new experience of fox hunting and riding out in the open, several riders got to ride on Amanda’s herd of Haflingers. Amanda said that Haflingers are a great breed of horse for fox hunting – easy on, easy off, and lots of get up and go. “He’s so cute” was one rider’s comment when mounting Gus, a Haflinger who, because of his versatility in the hunt field, was awarded Oak Grove Horse of the Year in 2019.

The riders hacked from the McGee home about a mile up the road to the Oak Grove kennel, from where Amanda cast the hounds.

The weather that morning was partly cloudy with temperatures well above freezing, but with a stiff wind coming straight out of the north. One would normally expect the scenting to be poor in such a high wind, but the hounds opened with a roar in the woods above the Lodge Farm lake and kept at that pace pretty much the entire day. The quarry, although never viewed, kept leading the hounds deeper into the woods, running a tight circular pattern around the lake, and then moving back and forth across the abandoned railroad tracks. These railroad tracks predate the Civil War and have not been used in years. Although there is little danger of encountering a train, the tracks are depressed below the surrounding terrain and present a true challenge for horses to cross, although not for the coyote or hounds.

The uninitiated riders from Hunters Edge stayed right behind Amanda in single file, through the woods, through the high sedgebrush fields, and on the tractor roads into the far west limits of the territory. Care was taken not to intrude on the row crop fields and all of the horses behaved well. This coyote was smart enough not to cross the highway and led the hounds right back to where they started the run a few hours before, traversing much of this Oak Grove fixture.

When the hunt ended, everyone warmed up by a cozy fire in the McGee home to partake of the Hunt Breakfast. One added bit of fun: Mocha, one of the Oak Grove hounds, had just whelped a litter of nine puppies the prior week and everyone got a chance to pet and play with them.

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