11 Browning Rd.,
Hyde Park, New York 12538.
Pinch-hitting for an accomplished and widely respected huntsman is a daunting prospect, and it takes a uniquely talented individual to step up to the plate.
On Oct. 30, we met at the Burdis’ with 18 couple. To our surprise, MFH Suzie Cannavino was hunting the hounds while huntsman Vincent Tartaglia was recovering from viral pneumonia. As a rookie in her first time up, she was understandably very nervous.
Hounds drew the first two coverts unusually blank. But, on entering the Big Woods, hounds were quickly away on the back of a coyote. As they broke covert out into the open, Tartaglia, who was following in the hound truck, saw Cannavino galloping gleefully behind her flying pack. On several occasions the entire field viewed this quarry. It was a rather circuitous run of about an hour, across one of the larger jumping fixtures, with the coyote being given best after crossing a rather busy road.
Cannavino then hacked hounds back to draw Jupert’s, where they were immediately away on a lovely red fox. After crossing a beautiful bit of open country behind the pack in full cry, hounds marked this fox to ground in a culvert under Fox Run Road with all hounds on.
On Nov. 13, from the meet at Hackett Holstein Farm, Cannavino again carried the horn, as Tartaglia was still sick. Hounds hunted the first fox, found in a small thicket behind the cow barn, quite handsomely for 45 minutes to ground. The second fox, found behind Stanley Money’s, who once whipped-in to these hounds but is now retired, provided the field with plenty of galloping for an hour and 20 minutes.
At day’s end everyone agreed that Cannavino, as stand-in, had hit a double-header home run.
“Having turned hounds to Vincent for more than 20 years, one would hope that I have some useful experience that could be put to use hunting the Rombout pack. They are such a wonderful pack of hounds that my job was really very easy,” Cannavino said later.
“Vincent and I have worked hand in hand over many years, and it was quite natural for us to change roles. However, understandably, I was nervous. Riding out as a whipper-in usually involves very little audience participation,” Cannavino continued, “here at Rombout, Vincent always encourages the field to ride right with him, so any little mishaps would have been very visible. However, the hounds responded brilliantly and did their job for me.
“I was so proud of them,” she added. “But my horn blowing needs a lot of work. As Vincent told me, ‘Practice, practice, practice.’ My love for hounds and horses is what I brought to hunting 30 years ago, I have to thank Vincent for everything else I know.”