Harrisburg, Pa.—Oct. 16
When the first rider trotted into ring for the Gentleman’s Hunter Under Saddle (and inspired some cheers from the crowd), the thought process went as follows: Wait, that man looks like Boyd Martin. It couldn’t actually be Boyd Martin, right? No, that is Boyd Martin!
On Hunt Night at the Pennsylvania National Horse Show, Boyd traded in his eventing safety vest and donned his hunting clothes aboard Mr. Stewart’s Cheshire Foxhounds’ Right On Que. And not only did he make a debut in the show ring, he decorated it with a blue ribbon.
“Somehow I got roped into competing here in the gentleman’s hack class, and I had no idea what it involved, but I just had to be down here at 6 o’clock at night,” said Martin of Cochranville, Pa. “It was brilliant. I’ve never been to anything like this before. I got loaned a horse from one of my fellow members. And I had a bit of training in the collecting ring and went in there and had a crack at the gentleman’s hack riding.”
Right On Que also won the Ladies’ Hunter Under Saddle with owner Tanya Emslie in the saddle. Emslie represented Mr. Stewart’s Cheshire Foxhounds and has participated in Hunt Night many times, though this was her first win.
“It’s very exciting. I am so proud of my horse,” said Emslie. “It’s a great honor because there are so many beautiful horses and great riders. It’s so amazing to win and to have an Olympian ride your horse is pretty phenomenal. I am overwhelmed.”
With the 2017 eventing season winding down, Martin is shifting his annual focus to foxhunting, where he dedicates his November and December months to the Mr. Stewart’s Cheshire Foxhounds.
“I love my hunting to be honest,” said Martin. “At the end of the year, there’s no better outdoor activity I find than going out there in Chester County and jumping the timber fences. [My wife] Silva and I’ve met a whole new group of friends through it, and all different walks of life, so it’s been great fun for us.”
Just the day before, Boyd finished third in the Dutta Corp. Fair Hill CCI*** (Md.) with Christine Turner’s Tsetserleg—which he admits gave him the perfect reason to join the fun in Harrisburg.
“I’m a bit stiff and sore today so this is quite a good excuse not to ride everything on the farm,” said Boyd who added he’d like to participate again. “I think America’s a wonderful country of all different types of horse sports. I’ve tried to do the hunting, eventing, had a crack at a timber race once.”
Boyd’s bucket list item complete, and of course in winning style.
Mr. Stewart’s Cheshire Foxhounds of Coatesville, Pa., dominated Hunt Night. Their riders won three classes and received ribbons in all five events to claim the championship title for the eighth time since the inception of Hunt Night.
A total of 20 teams from 13 hunt clubs participated in the Hunt Team competition, the highlight of the evening. Each team consisted of three riders who rode in the arena at the same time. The course featured a series of fences with the riders following each other mimicking a hunt and at the final obstacle they jumped in unison.
Mr. Stewart’s Cheshire Foxhounds—Team 2 won the event with members Joy Slater, Skylar McKenna and Erika Nesler. Nesler also was fresh off competing in the Dutta Corp. Fair Hill CCI**, where she finished 17th in the CCI** with Right Above It.
They almost missed the event altogether, though, when their truck broke down about 40 miles from the show.
“Our truck lost radiator fluid, and we almost didn’t make it here,” said Slater. “Fortunately, we were able to work it out and get another truck and trailer. It’s such a great horse show I would have hated to miss it. I love this show, and I love Hunt Night. It is so much fun.”
Other classes held on Hunt Night included the Field Hunters, 35 and under, class, which was won by 17-year-old Autumn Rogers of the Bull Run Hunt—Team 2 (Va.) riding JT. Rogers has been hunting for nine years, but this was the first time the Orange, Va., resident competed at Harrisburg.
“It was a little nerve-wracking, but I’m really happy,” said Rogers. “Winning means a lot. It shows that all of the hard work will pay off in the end if you work hard enough.”
Nancy Roberts and Bermunda took top honors in the Field Hunters, 36 and over, representing the Green Spring Valley Hounds (Md.), where her father, Duck Martin, served as Master. Roberts has competed in Hunt Night three times, but this was her first victory.
“I’m very happy, I’m very proud of my horse,” said Roberts. “I can’t really believe it. I usually just foxhunt, I don’t show, so this was a nice surprise.”
There was a three-way tie for the Hunt Night Leading Lady Rider Award. Rogers, Roberts and Emslie all shared the honor.