Rappahannock Hunt




Foxhunting is an old and honorable sport with traditions that date back hundreds of years. Earliest records show Col. Charles Green (1807-1881) of The Shade maintained a pack of hunting hounds in Rappahannock throughout the War Between the States. During the following years, many farmers had their own packs and in 1926, the Rappahannock Hunt was established by Hugh L. Bywaters and Joseph B. Johnson of Sperryville as a farmer’s pack. The hunt was recognized by the Masters of Foxhounds Association of America in 1939 and continues to hold that distinction today. Over the years, the Rappahannock Hunt has developed quite a reputation for its thrilling “rough riding” mainly due to its long-time Master, James W. Fletcher who was Master of Foxhounds from 1949-1980. During that time, the Hunt became known around the world for its demanding territory and beautiful vistas. You can still ride for miles without encountering a single building.

Today, the Rappahannock Hunt territory is comprised of land in Rappahannock, Culpeper and Madison counties with a total of 384,000 acres, making it the largest hunting territory in Virginia and one of the largest in the United States. Currently, the Senior Master of Foxhounds is Oliver L. Brown who has hunted with the Hunt for 44 years, enjoying his first hunt when he was 5 years old. Oliver was Huntsman for the Rappahannock Hunt for 21 years. His son, Michael, has now taken the reins as Huntsman, making the father-son team one of the few such partnerships in the country. The newest Joint Master of the Hunt is Janet O'Keefe, the first woman master to ever be elected in the 75 years of the Hunt's history.

The membership of the Rappahannock Hunt is as varied as its territory. They come from all walks of life, all ages and all areas. Some members drive over 2 hours to ride with us, bypassing other hunts along the way. There are 30 recognized hunts in Virginia today, making it the foxhunting capitol of the world. We welcome all who wish to ride with us and we are very thankful and indebted to the generosity of our landowners who make foxhunting possible.

Rappahannock Hunt territory is a mixture of mountains, rolling hills, and open fields in the counties of Rappahannock, Madison, and Culpeper Virginia. The territory is paneled, with coops and some old stone walls. The fixtures are full of astonishing views, jumps, and red fox alike. We have even seen a hint of coyote or two. The territory is demanding, but can be ridden by with ease by the fairly fit horse and rider.

We hold many activities throughout the year and we invite everyone to join us whether you ride or not.

The Rappahannock Hunt is host to events that go on throughout the year. Our hunting season begins in September with cub hunting and continues into the formal season at the end of October with the old, time honored tradition of Opening Meet and the Blessing of the Hounds.

We go out Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays from the end of October through the month of March. Guests are always welcome. We offer many types of memberships and packages including a book of capping fees and a Hospitality Package for Bed & Breakfast establishments and hotels.

Joint meets with other recognized hunts are held throughout the season. Our members and hounds travel to South Carolina and Georgia for a week of hunting in January.

A Junior Meet is held each month during which the junior members take the reins and lead the hunt for the day and the adults are sent to the back of the field. It is an exhilarating and exciting time for them. All junior riders are invited to attend and they need not be members of a hunt.

In February, we hold a formal Hunt Ball at a nearby club complete with dinner, band and silent auction. This is a very entertaining event and we have a delightful time in addition to raising money to care for our hounds.

Another program geared to hound care is our 401K9 Plan. You may join the plan with a nominal donation and you get to pick your hound from a list of eligible participants. It is not only for the hound’s retirement years, but helps defray costs of your hound’s care during his/her formative sporting years. With your yearly donation, you will receive your hound’s vital statistics, a photo, and social security number (check with your accountant before claiming as a dependent)!

During the summer months, we hold trail rides every weekend. They have become invaluable for training green horses and riders. Lunch and refreshments are included.

We usually have an annual Horse Show or a series of shows during the summer. These are informal and been very popular for riders in the area.

In August, our Master holds a foxhunting survival clinic that was developed to help riders and horses “survive” in the hunt field. Over the years, this clinic has helped countless people and riders overcome fears and concerns about foxhunting. Each person/horse is assisted according to their level of ability. A presentation by the Huntsman and Master as well as lunch and refreshments are provided.

During the summer we walk hounds several days a week and everyone is invited to help. This is very useful experience for new hounds and puppies to get into the routine of being in a pack and learning the commands of the huntsman. It is quite interesting and fun.

We invite you to come ride with us or attend any of our hunt functions. For information on any of the Rappahannock Hunt’s activities, please feel free to call our Master or Honorary Secretary at the address and numbers listed below:

(540) 825-6859
(540) 547-2810.
(540) 547-2993




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