• Hunt history discussed at FFAM meeting

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  • Christopher Burnett | Staff Writer
    More than 50 people attended the Friends of the Frontier Army Museum’s first membership night activity Aug. 29 at the museum with retired Col. Mark French of the Fort Leavenworth Hunt as the featured speaker.
    FFAM President Marianne Eldridge said the evening was to introduce new board members. She said all FFAM membership events are also open to nonmembers.
    “Membership nights offer an opportunity for people to learn about the museum, enjoy refreshments while interacting with other friends of the museum and become a member if they wish,” Eldridge said. “Each membership night has a keynote. Colonel French is here to speak about the history of the Hunt at Fort Leavenworth, as it is the only active hunt on a military installation.”
    French, a joint master of the foxhounds for the Hunt, presented his keynote, “The Fort Leavenworth Hunt and the Legacy of Military Fox Hunts” to a group ranging in experience from novice to Hunt members. He used multimedia to illustrate his talk, and the presentation was streamed live to Facebook.
    “The interesting piece about the Fort Leavenworth Hunt is that it is the last active military fox hunt affiliated with the United States Army in the United States,” French said. “There are 141 fox hunts in North America recognized by Masters of Foxhounds Association.”
    Connie Croft said attending the membership night and learning about the Hunt was a great opportunity. She said as a novice, the talk being inclusive of beginners was insightful.
    “I was super excited when I found out the topic was about the Hunt,” Croft said. “It’s always interested me, but I’ve never seen a forum offered to learn about it.”
    Denisse Findlay, FFAM social media coordinator, said the event is a great way for anyone to learn about the Fort Leavenworth Hunt. She said social media is useful for getting the word out to the community about upcoming events.
    “We use social media to target people who live both, on the post and off,” Findlay said. “Our goal is to provide information about all of the activities available and how to get involved.”
    MacKenzie Gwin, a senior at Leavenworth High School, and member of the Fort Leavenworth Hunt, and she said the event was a good way to learn.
    “As the junior whip, I’m part of the staff. I go out with one other person, and my role is to keep the hounds in check,” Gwin said. “I’m looking forward to this membership event because (French) is very excited to share some history of the Hunt. I don’t know a ton of the history, so that is what I am looking forward to learning tonight.”
    Page 2 of 2 - Gwin said she has been riding since age 5. She said she recently qualified for the Arabian Show Horse Nationals.
    “I’ll be competing at a national level,” Gwin said. “Last year I received top 10 honors, so I’m hoping to do just as well or better this year.”
    Gwin said participating in the Hunt for three years has been a unique experience. She said her perspective comes from the different situations encountered during a fox hunt.
    “I love it. It’s by far one of my favorite types of riding,” Gwin said. “You learn a lot each time.”
    Eldridge said the next FFAM membership night is Nov. 28 with a presentation on the old U.S. Disciplinary Barracks. She said the organization also hosts tours and educational events throughout the year.
    For more information on the Friends of the Frontier Army Museum, visit www.FFAM.us.
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