Tuesday, Apr. 16, 2024

Hunt Reports: Red Rock Hounds and Rombout Hunt

Red Rock Hounds
25 Spoke Rd.
Reno, Nevada 89506
Established 1980.
Registered 1983.
Recognized 1987.

A True Gift Of A Day With Red Rock

The author enjoys some classic western hunting for his birthday.
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Red Rock Hounds
25 Spoke Rd.
Reno, Nevada 89506
Established 1980.
Registered 1983.
Recognized 1987.

A True Gift Of A Day With Red Rock

The author enjoys some classic western hunting for his birthday.

The Red Rock Hounds, founded, mastered and hunted by Lynn Lloyd, may be, just possibly, located in the Shangri La of foxhunting. Except, of course, that the quarry includes coyote, bobcat and mountain lions, seldom fox.

The Shangri La-like appearance derives both from the mountainous country and the ageless quality of Lynn’s followers. Fifteen-year-old competitive youngsters ride with septuagenarians like me.

Lloyd herself has been the leader of this enterprise, which also includes training, buying and selling horses as well as conditioning hunters for her members, among other functions, for more than 20 years. But her enthusiasm and spontaneity are as fresh today as in 1980 when she got her first six couple of English hounds from Los Altos (Calif.).

Lloyd said they hunted in 12 different directions when first cast back then, but they have gotten it together in the interim. For someone who had just turned 70 and is only now accepting having missed my ride in the Maryland Hunt Cup, Lynn’s domain was a rejuvenating experience.

Introduced through the Juan Tomas Hounds of New Mexico, I quickly became eager for the interesting and exciting e-mail exchanges describing hounds chasing coyote trying to hide among prong-horned antelope and galloping and jumping up and down the valleys and foothills of the Sierra outside of Reno, Nev.

My wife, who gave me the trip as a birthday gift, and I flew into Reno and drove north through high desert ranch country to the headwaters of Ross Creek. The creek is dammed and forms a reservoir for Lynn’s ingenious, constantly running watering system piped through the kennels and stables. There are no pumps in the system, which is totally gravity-fed.

I Needed A Death Grip

Riding in the pocket of the Master and Huntsman of the Red Rock Hounds, one quickly becomes aware of gaining altitude atop the ridges of the Sierra. Lloyd hunts her hounds as she runs her organization, with charisma, assisted by two-way radios.

She gives few orders but her “team”, both canines and humans, appear to intuit the “commander’s intent” as they say in the military. As a result, this pack spreads out to find scent across a spectacular panorama between the whippers-in on the ridges. They are clever and as enthusiastic as their Master, who provides encouragement in the right direction rather than harsh discipline for minor infractions.

For example, Lloyd has found that if her pack runs a herd of prong-horned antelope, it is usually because they’ve scented a coyote sheltering in the middle of the group.

Lest I sound casual about this adventure, the truth is that I was petrified after the first half-hour that I would not survive a second 30 minutes of rocketing up near-vertical slopes and then bounding down the other sides.

Not only do the Red Rock hounds scour ridges nearly 1,000 feet above the cast, they must also surprise their quarry. Scent doesn’t last long in the desert foothills, and hounds must be on the coyote at short range in order to pick up the chase.

Meanwhile, I was struggling to stay on the back of a very kind but Everest-sized crossbred mount who had a trot of much greater scope than my 29″ inseam (very short legs, for the non-tailors) legs could post to, and a ground-eating thrust as he powered up the steepest pitches.

His mane proved too short for the death grip needed for these ascents, but I found an effective last resort. Since I couldn’t get my arms around his mighty neck, I frantically seized the martingale straps as close to the chest ring as possible, plastering myself horizontally over his withers and neck.

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Everyone behind us was apparently similarly occupied since no one ever commented on my unique style of forward seat. After an hour, my quads, conditioned forever by training for point-to-points with Paddy Neilson, were still taking the bounce in 2-point.

When we followed hounds back to the kennels three hours after that, I was eternally grateful to Lloyd, Neilson and my guardian angel for providing, and passing me through, a monumental cardiac stress test. I thanked the Master and my wife for a slightly belated 70th birthday present.

To follow the fast Walker hounds in this country of ups and downs, your horse must be fit if he/she is to survive. Toward this end, hounds go out often (three times a week plus bye days and holidays) over a long season (early September to mid-April; 112 times out last season) and anyone who is not able to ride often enough can put their mount in the hunt’s conditioning program, so that no one need be excused due to an unfit horse.

My First Second Horse

The next day was equally amazing. Snow lay on the fields and fences as the hunter pace began. Going for fastest time, I was paired with Andrew Jayne, not yet 16 but already a talented rider.

My young colleague took off at a sharp pace. Suddenly it felt like old times at Cheshire or Winterthur point-to-points. The course was several miles over coops, logs and up and down the sides of the foothills.
My livery horse, a wiry Thoroughbred-Quarter Horse mare, liked the pace and stood off every obstacle for the first turn around the valley floor.

After about 3 miles, however, I felt her stride shorten and her toes began to stick. She rubbed the next coop, whereupon I dismounted and found she was not injured but rather “tied up.” The malady is an occupational hazard in that part of the world, I was told.

I had to lead her along a narrow trail for a short way to a place wide enough for a van or trailer to pick her up. Jayne went ahead to tell the anxious binocular-viewers that I had not come a cropper.

As I waited, more concerned for the horse than lamenting my bad luck, the chief honorary whipper-in and executive officer for the hunt, Angela Murray, galloped up. We talked about my horse’s discomfort for a moment, then she nearly left me speechless when she exclaimed, “Take my horse and finish up. I’ve seen you ride; you can ride her fine.”

I regained my wits enough to look around for a place to mount. I am hopeless at getting a leg up. It was a tribute to the tolerance of Murray’s Thoroughbred that she permitted me to crawl on from a truck fender even in the midst of the excitement of the competition. Jayne had returned by that time and we galloped on.

As a youngster, working for a trainer near the Radnor Hunt in Pennsylvania, I sometimes used to ride a second horse for one of his clients. This was the first time anyone had ever provided me with a second horse. She was a classic middleweight hunter-type, taking all but the trappiest fences in stride for the last half of the course.

Typical of the informal camaraderie of the Red Rock Hounds was the pot-luck hunt breakfast at the completion of the hunter pace. As I had found with the Juan Tomas Hounds (N.M.) over the last five years, these gatherings often turn out more like a cowboy roundup barbecue, with much humor, practical joking and no one’s ego left unscathed if they had an unplanned and unwilling dismount that day.

A further similarity to the New Mexico pack was the welcoming of all comers who could follow the hounds safely and without interfering with either hounds or horses. People of all (as mentioned) ages and states of repair, as well as English, western and even Civil War tack, were in evidence. We were there for three days, and rations varied from exquisitely cooked and presented hot dishes to take-out pizza. The good cheer and lively conversation never waned.

Much has been written about Lynn Lloyd’s exploits and her status as a legendary figure in her chosen career with horses and hounds. For a veterinarian like me, the true test of an individual’s personality and character is their animals, particularly their horses. Lloyd’s horses—those I rode or saw in action—are always bold but calm, responsive to gentle directives, and generous with strangers.

On the human side, the riders who help guide the pack and those who follow it are devoted to her, trusting completely to go wherever she leads. In my experience of seven decades, these are among life’s highest accomplishments.

Paul H. Langner



Rombout Hunt
11 Browning Rd.,
Hyde Park, New York 12538.
Established 1929
Recognized 1931

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A January Thaw Brings A Banner Day

When the foot of snow and ice in New York melted due to record temps, I decided to take advantage of the open ground.

So on Jan. 10, the hounds met at my Gone Away Farm. I drew the hounds south, since there is a small covert there that is good to get hounds settled. I could tell that something had been about. 

We gathered together and I drew hounds into the second covert—Parkers off of Marshall Road. Hounds immediately were off to the left and opened 50 yards into the covert.  I sent whipper-in Joy Imperati out in front, into the covert, and I doubled back to the unpaved Ward Road and proceeded east with hounds flying.  Little did I know that this was to be a classic hunt.

Hounds continued north and east, crossing Ward Road going north, through Heidi Walkers, into Lovingers and the Browning Farm.  A very large gray coyote was viewed across the open field to Clinton Ave., with hounds in close pursuit.

“Only six couple,” I counted to myself. “Where are the other seven and a half?”

Rather disappointed, I waited several seconds and decided no tail hounds were catching up, so off we all went with this, what turned out to be the first of two coyotes. As we galloped across Fishers, I could hear Imperati on the radio indicating the pack was speaking in Seaman’s cover behind me. Ah hah—a second coyote and the rest of my hounds.

We galloped up into Burdis’ high field and I could see hounds streaming across Atkins’ open field, south, toward Salt Point. I sent the hound truck to the Salt Point Turnpike thinking they must cross, however, slowed traffic turned the coyote and back they came along the Turnpike heading now west.

Handily enough, this brought them back to the rest of the pack, which was coming east out of Seamans. They proceeded back toward whence we had come, Lovingers and the Browning Farm.

This time a dark brown coyote appeared in Lovingers open field. Hounds were far behind this one, and I decided to gather up the pack. Well, only Wellington came on that line and, as we trotted up the hill, thinking to pick up the rest of the hounds, over the high Lovinger fence they came, hunting what must have been the first viewed coyote, on a more southerly line than the brown one.

They had fallen behind this one also, and hounds were speaking only sporadically. All the hounds I had managed to gather were off with this group.

The earlier brown coyote had obviously slowed down in the covert off the Old Show Grounds, thinking she might have been out of the woods so to speak, when the second coyote went right into the same covert with her. The hounds were screaming at this point, which is how I knew they had found them both.

Off we went. This time however, they turned north along the Wappingers Creek (too high now for much to get across) and into the Big Woods, Katz’, the Rec. Park and on towards Tim and Gayle Novak’s. I fell behind during this blister, however, whipper-in Gayle Novak was with them and kept me in touch, which allowed me to catch up by the time they had gone by the Rec. Park towards her house.

At this point, they turned back west, into McGlauphlin’s, then across Pragman’s and back into the Browning Farm. At this point, we had been galloping for an hour and a half.

As the coyotes drew farther away and hounds quieted, we collected our wits, hounds, and horses, and reveled in the day as we hacked back to Gone Away Farm. I, thinking to myself, being the luckiest in the world.

Suzie York Cannavino,
MFH and huntsman

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