Longreen Foxhounds 56th AnnualOpening Meet

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By Susan Walker

Saturday, November 16, 2013 started as a rather misty morning with possibly good scenting conditions for Longreen's 56th Opening Meet at the Jake and Harriet McFadden's Birdlands, near Como, MS.

Members of the West Tennessee Pony Club were spotlessly turned out: tack on correctly, stock ties with pins horizontal, spit shined, and ready for formal inspection. Hunt secretary, Kim Michelson, had the coffee and donuts ready for anyone upon arrival.

Over 140 people came out for the day's ceremony and hunt, which included about 60 horses. Jane Harris and Pam Boone put out the stirrup cup with hot cider and multiple trays of edibles. John McClure had all of the St. Hubert medals ready to pass out to all attendees. Nashoba Carriage drivers bustled about harnessing their horses and ponies. There were visitors from Chula Homa Hunt near Jackson, MS in addition to the Longreen members.

A special guest and Longreen past member attended: Ann Magli Webber, MFH, from Oklahoma,Vice President of Moingona Hunt. Ann grew up in Germantown and was one of the first pony clubbers who got to ride with Bart Mueller and his Longreen hounds when they hunted from Kirby Road / Poplar Pike area to Holmes and Forest Hill- Irene Road area. In those days, hounds went out from their kennel on Stout Road near McVay Road in the heart of Germantown, TN.

Each field had a leader (Field Master) and someone covering the end of the riders to ensure everyone stuck together and stayed safe. Harriet’s daughter, McKay, helped with the second field to be sure riders were in the right spot to watch the hounds as they hunted through the landscape. West TN Pony Club District Commissioner (DC) Vonna Read lent her expertise to the younger Pony Clubbers in Third Field. 

The Reverend Jay Beidenharn of St. John’s Episcopal Church in Memphis was the officiant for the day. Riders gathered in front of the columned home between the majestic magnolias to toast the beginning to the season with the stirrup cup. The  hounds joined the crowd and the Blessing of the Hounds began. Octogenarian E. Q. Vance watched the ceremony from astride his mare anxious for the hunt to begin again.

After the Blessing, riders, carriages, and wagons moved off across the fields following the hounds who were in search of the scent of fox or coyote. Multiple deer bounded from covert to covert; but the elusive fox and coyote were not to be found this day.  

As the temperatures rose, all gathered just east of the Twin Lakes woods for the tail gate. Children bounded off of the wagons to hug the hounds. Hounds continued, working through the Twin Lake woods without being able to stir up the scent of the quarry.

Having enjoyed a safe day across the beautiful countryside, hounds and riders and carriage drivers headed in for the hunt breakfast – a Longreen pot luck with Melba Lanier organizing the bounteous supply food.

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