The Casanova Hunt announced on June 1 that it will discontinue operations due to increasing pressures from residential development and other factors.
Based in Casanova, Virginia, the 111-year-old club was a prominent part of the Northern Virginia equestrian calendar as a sponsor of foxhunting meets, hunter paces and point-to-point races.
In a letter to landowners, subscribers and friends that was shared online, Masters Of Foxhounds Jeanne Clark and Kathleen O’Keefe said, “With very heavy hearts, the decision has been made that Casanova Hunt will not continue beyond this past season. Words cannot begin to express our disappointment and frustration.”
In addition to loss of open land and increased traffic, other challenges identified in the letter included coyotes driving out the native fox population and financial uncertainties related to the coronavirus pandemic.
“These changes are both unwelcome and out of our control,” the masters said.
“Things started to change a few years ago when there was so much development happening all of a sudden,” said Joyce Fendley, a member of the hunt’s executive committee who previously served as MFH for more than 30 years. “Then the traffic became just unbelievable. It’s an unfortunate thing.”
Most of the Casanova hounds will join other packs in the area, while some will be retired to become pets.
“A group is going to Piedmont [Fox Hounds (Virginia)], and some are going over to our good friends at Potomac [Hunt (Maryland)], and I believe a group is going to Orange County [Hounds (Virginia)],” Fendley said.
“And then we have some hunt members that want a hound, so we’re doing some adopting,” she added.
Casanova Hunt was recognized by the Virginia House of Delegates in 2019 with a resolution that noted, “[T]he club’s ties to the land and the community have remained strong throughout its history.”
A separate resolution passed at the same time honoring Casanova’s huntsman Tommy Lee Jones for his service both to the club and to his community as longtime manager of the Upperville Colt & Horse Show (Virginia) and the Warrenton Horse Show (Virginia). The 2019-2020 season marked Jones’ 50th year as huntsman.
“Casanova Hunt is forever indebted to our landowners who have given us the privilege to ride over their land,” the masters said in their letter. “We also thank our many members and friends in the Casanova community and beyond who have supported us through the years.”