"A Day in the Life of FHC Professional Staff, Daron and Alison Beeney"
"A Day in the Life of our Farmington Hunt Club Professional Staff"
By Beth Sutton, for Foxtracks, FHC newsletter October 2010
Fox Tracks:This is the first in a series of staff profiles to acquaint the membership with these important individuals who play such a valuable role in the Farmington Hunt.
For those of us lucky enough to go hunting mounted on horseback or to follow the Farmington Hunt on foot or by car, too few of us realize the extent of preparation and work that goes on behind the scenes to make it all happen. Recently I asked the Beeneys to describe a typical hunting day during regular hunting season.
- 5:00 AM, the Beeneys get up and their work day begins
- 5:30- Alison feeds the horses; Tommy hoses down the kennels and cleans the kennel area
- 6:00 Daron goes to Maupin’s for Tommy’s coffee. Daron explained, ”It’s the best way to visit with the local farmers, the neighborhood fellows, to keep in touch with them and know what’s going on.”
- 7:00 Alison mucks the stalls, with help from the men.
- 7:30 Daron changes into his clothes up at the house, brings Alison’s clothes to the office, checks the trailers to make sure they are clean then loads the “Riding Valet”, otherwise known as their cleaned “kit”: coats, spurs, hats, whips, etc. (Daron is responsible for cleaning and polishing the boots, spurs and buttons. He likes “Brasso” for the buttons, and spurs. He likes Kiwi “Parade Polish” for the boots. ) From the kennels, he draws the hounds for the day- usually 29, or fourteen and a half couple, and collars them (each wears a battery powered tracking device to help locate them in the event they get lost). During cubbing season he sometimes takes a larger pack, but during regular season a smaller pack is easier to control. (Farmington has a total of 45 hounds)
- 8:15 Daron and Alison load the horses onto the van, then Tommy assists loading the hounds. Meanwhile, to avoid as much dirt as possible, Alison waits until everything is loaded before changing her clothes in the office. “ I usually put my tie on driving to the meet, during cubbing- it’s easier.” Daron prefers the ratcatcher dress of cubbing season: tweed coat and tie- easier to keep clean, and more comfortable. Note: it is he who irons their special stock ties during formal season- staff wear a style that is bit wider, and must be carefully starched and ironed every time they are worn, and tied in a slightly different way- “ they get you right beneath the chin,” noted Daron.
- Arriving at the meet early (regular season meets begin usually around 10:00), Daron has a list of the hounds they’ve brought out that day, and he checks it at the end of the hunt that can vary from two to four hours. On most days the hunt will end around 12:30, or 1:00- and its time for Tommy and Alison to make sure they’ve got all stragglers accounted for.
- Once back to the kennels, all the gear, hounds, horses are unloaded, cleaned and put away. Tommy takes care of his horse, cleans up and his day ends at 3:00. Daron feeds the hounds an hour and half after the hounds are all “in”. He splits them up in groups- bitches separate from dogs with skinny ones being fed first. (He feeds Southern States dry food.) Alison is in charge of feeding and care of the horses, and feed comes from Augusta Coop. She bandages and poultices the horses that were worked hard that day, blankets them and puts them up, cleans all the tack with Daron’s help. (She uses “Horseman’s One Step”.)
- 5:30, Dinnertime for the Beeneys
- 9:00 barn check, and the workday ends.
- Off days: each of the 6 staff horses gets ridden 7 days a week, 40 minutes walking and trotting, never jumping. Alison noted the necessity of keeping the hard working staff horses extremely fit, and she believes in daily work to do this.
- Off- season: April to July the horses all get turned out elsewhere. Our staff depends on donated horses for mounts. In summer months ideally Alison is training a young horse to use as a backup. They currently have two horses each for Daron (Rambo and Nicky) and Alison (Penn and Nolia -grey mare, a donation from FHC member Lucia Evans-Morse), one as an alternate for Daron and Alison(Maggie) and one for Tommy (Murdock). Tommy’s second mount is a four-wheeler named “Old Red”.
For a complete story about Daron Beeney, the huntsman’s job, and how he and Alison came to the US to work for the FHC, look for Virginia Sportsman Magazine, December, 2010 www.vasportsman.com, Article by Beth Sutton, featuring photos by Cathy Summers and Bob Haschart. Copies go on sale next month, and can be found locally at the Hunt Country Store, Bellair Market, and B&N. Subscriptions are: one yr. 6 issues $25.00 PO Box 8376 Charlottesville, VA 22907, (434) 734-971-1199, (800) 734-2980, e-mail: email@example.com .For more articles about FHC, its history and interesting members, visit www.farmingtonhunt.org, see FHC in the Press.