Monday, Jul. 22, 2024

There’s A New Man In The Saddle At The MFHA

Dr. G. Marvin Beeman has a long-range plan in mind for foxhunting.

On Jan. 24, Dr. G. Marvin Beeman, DVM, took up the reins as the president of the Masters of Foxhounds Association of America. This consummate professional is singularly qualified for the position through both happenstance and hard work.
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Dr. G. Marvin Beeman has a long-range plan in mind for foxhunting.

On Jan. 24, Dr. G. Marvin Beeman, DVM, took up the reins as the president of the Masters of Foxhounds Association of America. This consummate professional is singularly qualified for the position through both happenstance and hard work.

The MFHA is the governing body of organized foxhunting in the United States and Canada. Established in 1907, the organization now represents 763 members and 165 recognized and registered hunts.

While foxhunting is often thought of as an East Coast/Mid-Atlantic traditional English sport, Beeman’s roots lie among the Western cattlemen and cowboys. When asked how he differed from past presidents, he pointed out that he is “the first one from west of the Mississippi River,” that he “grew up in both English and western saddles and grew up hunting coyote as quarry.” Perhaps it is because of these distinctions that Beeman also brings an everyman perspective to the presidency.

A Life Among Horses And Hounds

Beeman, now jt.-MFH and huntsman of Arapahoe Hunt (Colo.), was born into foxhunting. Arapahoe Hunt was formed in 1903, and Beeman’s father George started as second whipper-in in 1929 and became huntsman in 1934. Beeman began turning hounds to his father in 1943 at age 10, more out of necessity than ambition. “One whip was in the Army and one whip was in the Navy, so I helped my dad,” he said.

Famous Last Words

In his welcoming address, Dr. G. Marvin Beeman, recalled the events that led to his father, George, embarking on a career following hounds that spanned more than 50 years.

“It is remarkable that the establishment of such a traditionally English sport could have expanded in to the West, among the roots of the cattlemen and cowboys. In 1929 my father, at age 20, was one of those budding cowhands, but his plans were altered for the rest of his life and mine when he was asked by a friend for assistance in a job he had recently taken at some kind of a ‘dog’ operation where people on horses followed the dogs chasing coyotes across the plains of Colorado. My father offered to help for a couple of weeks. However, he told his friend it would be with the horses because he didn’t want anything to do with the ‘damn dogs.’ Those two weeks turned into a lifetime of involvement with the Arapahoe Hunt.”

Since that early start, George spent four years as a professional whipper-in, 52 years as the professional huntsman, followed by four years as huntsman emeritus. Following in his footsteps, Dr. Beeman spent 42 years whipping-in for his father, George, before taking over as huntsman in 1987.

Dr. Beeman explained that family ties are an important part of his hunting career, “My wife of 52 years, Eunie, our daughter, Laurie Beeman DeMayo, and our son, Grant, all served as whippers-in for my father and me, as did my sister, her two children and my cousin.”

Marc Patoile

Beeman succeeded his father as huntsman in 1986 and is still carrying the horn today at age 74. “Because of circumstances, I’ve had a wonderful, long duration of hunting,” Beeman said. “It’s not just an extra-curricular activity; it’s an institution for me. I’ve been wearing scarlet for 64 years in an official position,” Beeman said.

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In his acceptance speech in New York City, he remarked that his family—many of whom whipped-in to him—was a significant part of his hunting career. He recalled that one day, while hunting, his wife rebuked him with the comment “What do you expect—I wasn’t born in a coyote den like you and your dad.”

Hunting with Arapahoe wasn’t just a way of life for Beeman; it also gave him the opportunity to make a life.
 
“Arapahoe had a lot to do with me going on to get a veterinary degree,” he said. Becoming a veterinarian was an outgrowth of his childhood around animals, and former Arapahoe MFH W.W. Grant sponsored Beeman’s veterinary school education.

Beeman became a renowned equine veterinarian, known for his expertise relating to conformation and lameness. Beeman was the first veterinarian to be on the American Horse Council, where he received a distinguished service award and is today a trustee. He was on the board of the National Institute of Animal Agriculture—the first to come from the horse industry; he is past president of the American Association of Equine Practitioners; he is senior veterinaryadvisor, honorary vice-president and chairman of the research committee of the American Quarter Horse Association; he is in the International Stockman’s Hall of Fame as well as the American Farrier’s Association International Horseman’s Hall of Fame.

Beeman received the Colorado Horse Council Lifetime Achievement Award and was named the Colorado Veterinarian of the Year and the 2005 Citizen of the West. Recently, Beeman served on a committee in Washington, D.C., discussing restrictions for horses being imported in to the U.S. Beeman understands issues, knows about the legislative process and making long-term policy.

Where Will He Take The MFHA?

“Certainly every president has contributed significantly to the continued success of the MFHA,” Beeman said. “The recent presidents—in addition to their national chores—have participated in the expansion of our presence in many foreign countries. Their expertise and that of our Executive Director [Lt. Col. Dennis Foster] has been called upon by many of our counterparts off the shores of the United States and Canada. As we embark into the next century, challenges of the past will continue and new ones will surely develop.

“My main objective is to continue to unify the mounted foxhunting world of North America and to develop better ways to inform the membership,” Beeman said. “The work done during the centennial—the functions that were put together by [past president] Mason Lampton, the performance trials, joint meets, and art show—were wonderful to get people together.

“President Mason Lampton grasped the opportunity of the 100th year and made 2007 one of, if not the most, memorable and productive years in the history of the MFHA,” said Beeman. “His vision to conceive the plan for the Centennial Celebration was remarkable and then to engineer it into such a resounding success has been even more remarkable. The entire world of mounted foxhunters extends a resounding thank you to Mason and all of the people involved for this monumental accomplishment.

“Out of the centennial came a long-range plan and directions for us to follow. It resulted in the development of a strategic plan to launch the MFHA into the next century,” Beeman explained.

The long-range plan has seven areas of focus: 1) capital funds; 2) education; 3) legislative action; 4) events; 5) conservation; 6) administration; and 7) communication. “[Lampton] has agreed to chair and support the implementation of the strategic plan,” Beeman said.

He added that in the near term, we need to speak with one voice with other organizations such as the American Horse Council and other animal welfare interests who understand agriculture. Beeman said he’d like to see positive information given to the public about the value of agriculture to land preservation and the production of food.

Vision For The Future

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There are other concerns. “Land for us to hunt on is more of a problem,” Beeman said. “There are the challenges of those in society who don’t know what we do. With the right education, I think we can get people to understand we are preserving land and producing food.”

For Beeman, all efforts at promoting and preserving his sport start simply. “I want to maintain the traditions of mounted foxhunting and support hounds as the focus of activities; then, everything else will follow,” Beeman said. “We need to attract people to the sport. Hounds provide the entertainment.”

Beeman sees the organization of the MFHA as a centralizing force for foxhunters. “We have to understand everyone’s goals. The masters need to define goals and proceed in that direction,” he said. “The strength of the organization is that we are able to speak as one voice as a group of people involved in foxhunting. We need to establish what our goals are and all agree so we speak with that one voice.

“I’m humbled to have this opportunity. I question the ability I have to do this, but I’m going to try. I’m sincerely passionate about mounted foxhunting and preserving it,” Beeman said. “It’s the basis that makes me keep coming back.”



The Trail To The MFHA Presidency

In order to become president of the MFHA, an individual must undergo what essentially amounts to a long apprenticeship, where that person learns every aspect of the organization and their skills are tested. Only Masters of Foxhounds are eligible.

MFHA Executive Director Dennis Foster (ex-MFH) explained that the long road begins at the district level. There are 16 districts: Canada, the Carolinas, Central, Great Plains, Maryland/Delaware, the Midsouth, the Midwest, New England, New York/New Jersey, Northern Virginia/West Virginia, Pacific, Pennsylvania, Rocky Mountain, Southern, Virginia and Western.

A nominating committee composed of past presidents surveys each district to determine which master in each area would be an ideal candidate to become a district director. Once selected, an offer is made. If the candidate accepts the offer, he or she is nominated. The MFHA Board must approve the nominee before the district directors are decided by a vote of the full membership at the annual membership meeting held in New York City in January each year.

A district director can serve up to six years, a total of two three-year terms. During this period their contributions are evaluated and they are assessed as possible candidates to become an officer, to serve as the second vice-president of the MFHA.

According to the by-laws, an officer can only serve one term composed of three years. The candidate goes through the nominating process again. Once the term is completed, that individual then becomes eligible to be nominated as first vice-president, again a one-term job for three years. Finally, if all goes well and the
individual is willing, he or she is nominated to serve as president for three years.

At the point an individual ascends to president of the MFHA, the master has been in an operational/policy position with the organization for more than a decade. He or she has served in any one, and often several, of many roles, e.g. as chairman of the territory committee, chairman of the stud book, worked in professional development, finance, centennial events, hound shows or Pony Club. The person is intimately familiar with the inter-workings (goals, objectives and procedures) of the organization and has proven that he or she is passionate about the sport, is dedicated and possesses vigor.

Donna Ross

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