Wendy Lombardi rides Gayle Rue's Irish sport horse Killian over poles during the Fort Leavenworth Hunt's Eight Easy Lessons to Foxhunting class Sept. 12 at the Hunt arena on post. Photo by Prudence Siebert/Fort Leavenworth Lamp

Katie Peterson | Staff Writer

Nearly two dozen new and returning participants attended the first lesson of the Fort Leavenworth Hunt’s annual Eight Easy Lessons to Foxhunting Sept. 12 at the Fort Leavenworth Hunt Riding Arena.

Eight Easy Lessons to Foxhunting instructor retired Lt. Col. Simon Gardner watches 9-year-old Emma Kate Sampson ride Tammy Hane’s quarter horse Little Joe as riders new or returning to foxhunting walk their horses around the arena for instructors to get a feel for their abilities and for riders and horses to learn or review how to ride safely in a group during the Fort Leavenworth Hunt’s free lesson offering Sept. 12 at the Hunt arena on post. Instructors guided riders through basic maneuvers, including walking, trotting and passing other riders, to learn or review how to safely ride in a group and to evaluate each rider and horse as a team to determine their starting placement in the field. Photo by Prudence Siebert/Fort Leavenworth Lamp


“Every year our Fort Leavenworth Hunt tradition is to give members the chance to tune up and to provide an opportunity to introduce our sport of foxhunting to friends and make new friends at Eight Easy Lessons,” said Gayle Rue, Fort Leavenworth Hunt joint master of the foxhounds.

Eight Easy Lessons to Foxhunting instructor Gayle Rue guides riders through basic maneuvers, including walking, trotting and passing other riders, during the first of the Fort Leavenworth Hunt’s free pre-season series of classes for riders new or returning to foxhunting Sept. 12 at the Hunt arena on post. Photo by Prudence Siebert/Fort Leavenworth Lamp

“The Fort Leavenworth Hunt is a community, and we carry on with a history of a military hunt and the traditional foxhunting to enjoy the thrill of the chase and the camaraderie of like-minded horse junkies.


“It is more than just riding, it is sportsmanship, discipline, horse care, training, conditioning of the horse and rider, understanding rules and safety. Like any sport youth may be engaged in, this is a team sport and they are athletes,” she said. “There is also the appreciation of land conservation and taking care of and respecting our gift of nature and countryside.”


The first class covered two lessons because the Aug. 29 class was canceled because of inclement weather.


“Eight Easy Lessons is not about teaching people how to ride,” said Mark French, Fort Leavenworth Hunt joint master of the foxhounds. “In Army talk, we teach people tactics, techniques and procedures on how to properly and safely foxhunt and ride in the hunt field.”
The Fort Leavenworth Hunt is the only active military hunt left in the country, and one of about 160 active hunts recognized by the Masters of Foxhounds Association of North America. The Fort Leavenworth Hunt was disbanded in 1942 because of World War II and eventually reactivated in 1966 as a Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation-approved activity, French said.

Eight Easy Lessons to Foxhunting instructor Gayle Rue guides riders through basic maneuvers, including walking, trotting and passing other riders, during the first of the Fort Leavenworth Hunt’s free pre-season series of classes for riders new or returning to foxhunting Sept. 12 at the Hunt arena on post. Photo by Prudence Siebert/Fort Leavenworth Lamp


“Unlike any other (active hunt), we are … designed to support military members and their families and the retiree community,” French said.


During the eight-week course, which consists of seven riding sessions and one classroom session, participants are initially assessed on ability and then broken up into ability groups. Then, the course is made up of a series of lessons while mounted on horseback that teach about certain procedures and protocols while in the hunt field under various conditions.

Cecelia Trabert critiques the skill levels of riders and their horses, including Heather Williams and her Friesian Arie, to help determine where they should start out in the field during the Fort Leavenworth Hunt’s Eight Easy Lessons to Foxhunting Sept. 12 at the Hunt arena on post. Photo by Prudence Siebert/Fort Leavenworth Lamp


“They start out very basic and we work up to where the fifth lesson we will actually be out in the hunt country and everybody will be on horseback, and it’ll actually be working with hounds among us,” said Pat Wolf, FLH member and co-instructor. “The hunt is a tradition. There are protocols and requirements. You’re not just running around on horseback on the countryside. You have field masters leading the groups plus the huntsmen leading the hounds, and the whippers and the staff that work with him. Everybody has a place to ride.


“Taking these refresher classes every year is really good, especially in the classroom session — the history of the hunt and the traditions of the hunt are emphasized,” she said. “It’s a refresher mentally as well as physically (for the horse and the hunter).”


The next session of Eight Easy Lessons is at 9 a.m. Sept. 19 at the Fort Leavenworth Hunt Riding Arena. The classroom session is at 6 p.m. Sept. 25 at a to-be-determined location.
Sessions are open to anyone and the class is free.

Eight Easy Lessons to Foxhunting instructor retired Lt. Col. Simon Gardner offers advice and assessment as riders — including Julie Schock on solid appaloosa Tango, Kay Johnson on Tennessee walking horse Gunner, and Mike Warren on palomino paint Lefty — trot around the arena during the first of the Fort Leavenworth Hunt’s pre-season series of classes for riders new or returning to foxhunting Sept. 12 at the Hunt arena on post. Instructors guided riders through basic maneuvers, including walking, trotting and passing other riders, to learn or review how to safely ride in a group and to evaluate each rider and horse as a team to determine their starting placement in the field. Classes continue over the next several weeks leading up to opening hunt Oct. 31. Photo by Prudence Siebert/Fort Leavenworth Lamp


For more information, call Rue at (913) 651-8915 or e-mail gayle.rue@gmail.com or call French at (913) 704-9734 or e-mail markfrench@wildblue.net.

Riders maneuver around Eight Easy Lessons to Foxhunting instructor retired Lt. Col. Simon Gardner, center, as he has them practice getting off the trail, not stepping on crops and other things they will need to know how to do correctly and quickly while foxhunting during the first of the Fort Leavenworth Hunt’s pre-season series of classes for riders new or returning to foxhunting Sept. 12 by the Hunt arena on post. Instructors guided riders through basic maneuvers, including walking, trotting and passing other riders, to learn or review how to safely ride in a group and to evaluate each rider and horse as a team to determine their starting placement in the field. Photo by Prudence Siebert/Fort Leavenworth Lamp
Cecelia Trabert critiques the skill levels of horses and their riders to help determine where they should start out in the field during the Fort Leavenworth Hunt’s Eight Easy Lessons to Foxhunting Sept. 12 at the Hunt arena on post. Photo by Prudence Siebert/Fort Leavenworth Lamp

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