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Cedar Knob – Longreen Joint Meet
A cool morning dawned on Sunday March 15, 2020 in the middle Tennessee hills, with a mist hanging over the damp ground. It had rained throughout the night and the rain had just let up about 7:00 a.m. The members of Cedar Knob Hounds and Longreen Foxhounds parked their trailers in the pasture at Foxview Farm, located near Lynnville, Tennessee and owned by Cedar Knob Jt. Master Theresa Menefee, in anticipation of Cedar Knobs’s closing meet for the season. Horses were so excited and keen that one person tacking up was overheard to warn another, “Please don’t get too close to this horse. He will kick you into next week.”
Susan Walker, MFH and Huntsman for Longreen had brought her hounds to join with Cedar Knob’s pack for this final day of hunting. Claire Pinney, huntsman for Cedar Knob, hunted the combined pack of 15 ½ couple, accompanied by Susan. There had been a dress rehearsal of sorts a few weeks before, when the packs had hunted together in an ad hoc joint meet, when the Longreen pack could not hunt their regular fixture in the Mississippi River Delta due to flooding (see article MSHR March 2020). This joint meet, however, had been planned on both hunts’ regular fixture card from the beginning of the season and took place a week before the whole country went into quarantine due to COVID-19. Weather, scenting conditions, and particularly footing, was much different on this day than on the previous hunt. The ground was so slippery that although staff jumped that day, the fields did not.
The combined pack was cast in some lower thickets, where a bob cat is known to frequent, and they got right to work. Temperatures were in the 40s and there was cool, 10 mph breeze coming from the north. These are normally good scenting conditions, but today scenting seemed spotty and hounds had trouble keeping it, except in the overgrown thickets and brambles at the bottom of the steep hills. The thing about bob cats is that if they do not feel like coming out to play, they won’t. In spite of a lot of effort, both by field masters and staff, no one viewed, even though the hounds ran about 16 miles.
Now to the exciting story that I will get to bore non-foxhunters with in my old age.
About two hours into the hunt we were fording a fast flowing creek swollen by the previous night’s rain. In fact, the water was so deep that a few hounds would not cross and had to be carried by horseback. As we were making our way across, my horse stepped in a hole and we both went down in the chest-deep cold water. I had some difficulty standing up on the slippery rocks and was swept downstream. I somewhat gained my footing by grabbing some foliage. Then Rob Caldwell, MFH and Whipper-In, rode into the stream, extending his whip for me to grasp and pulled me to the shore. My mare was OK, and Joanna Caldwell caught her and led her across the stream. There must have been a plan for such circumstances, because I learned later that similar mishaps had happened at that crossing before. I was talked out of re-mounting and rejoining the hunt because of concerns for hypothermia. Rob called his parents, who were road whipping in an SUV. They drove up close enough for me slosh my way to their truck. When I got in, they turned on the heated seats for me and drove me back to my trailer. Joanna and Kim Caldwell volunteered to pony Tessa, my horse, cross country back to the trailers. By the time I had changed cloths and dried off (there was about a quart of water in each boot) , she had been untacked , watered, blanketed, and was contently munching hay. My hard hat is off to the whole Caldwell family for their decisive leadership, planning, and assistance!
At the end of the hunt, everyone gathered on Theresa’s patio with a roaring fire in the fireplace, practicing social distancing, for a sumptuous meal and year end awards.
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