TVH Opening Meet

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By Tommy Brannon, MFH; photos by Tonya Berrier, Ed.D

Tennessee Valley Hunt (TVH) held its 30th annual Opening Meet and Blessing of the Hounds on Saturday October 27, 2018 at Riverplains Farm in Strawberry Plains, Tennessee.

Giving the formal event a Celtic atmosphere, the wail of bagpipes echoed off the Tennessee Mountains as bagpiper Andrew Kerr played his pipes for the gathered riders and spectators. Riders sipped Stirrup Cups as they chatted with anticipation of the day’s hunt. The Blessing of the Hounds was conducted by Rev. Greg Cartwright, Associate Pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Greeneville, Tennessee. 

Saturday’s hunt took place on a morning after a solid day of rain, with a steady wind, overcast skies and temperatures hovering around 50°F. Cool temperatures and overcast skies with damp ground are ideal scenting conditions, with which only the wind can interfere.  Although the spectators on hay wagons might be a little chilled, this was great foxhunting and riding weather.

Huntsman and Jt. Master Ryan Johnsey cast the eleven and a half couple of Penn-Marydel hounds, with the First Field following not far behind him in hopes of a “find.” It wasn’t long before they did, find, that is.

Ryan said, “We had a great Opening Meet! The first fox didn’t want to break cover because of the wind, and wasn’t very sporty. But the second fox was lifted with all hounds on and in full cry! The First Flight was awarded a view of our red quarry with the entire pack hot on his heels! After giving us a tour of the Riverplains fixture, he left country, and the exhausted hounds were picked up and hacked back to the meet with the field in tow.”

After the hunt, a traditional, scrumptious “hunt breakfast” was served on the grounds, heartily consumed by the TVH members and their guests. A huge bond fire was lit to warm everyone and celebrate a great day of sport!

Find more information about Tennessee Valley Hunt at: and facebook: Tennessee Valley Hunt Club.

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