By Lauren Schiavone
Hometown Weekly Staff
The Amelia Peabody Memorial Hunt took place on Saturday, November 19 at Powisset Farm. Held on the Saturday before Thanksgiving, the foxhunt honors philanthropist, conservationist, sculptress, entrepreneur and equestrian Amelia Peabody. One of the first female members of the hunt club, Peabody is remembered fondly in the Norfolk Hunt Club as well as regionally, previously owning Powisset Farm and Noanet Woodlands prior to Trustees ownership.
Members of the Norfolk Hunt Club, the Trustees of Reservations, and the Norfolk Hunt Foundation, as well as spectators, congregated at Powisset Farm to celebrate Peabody’s legacy. Forty-two horses would participate in the five-mile hunt with geographic significance for the occasion. Horses were accompanied by riders in traditional attire, while spectators enjoyed interacting with the horses, hounds, and members of the hunt.
Hunt Club member Gil Rodgers has vast knowledge when it comes to the hunt — he knows the Amelia Peabody Memorial Foxhunt intimately, and has a great affinity for local history. “You have to have a very good horse to ride side saddle,” he said, impressed with the events of the afternoon. “They’ve added two long jumps,” he added about the trail. “They go into Noanet Woods. Hurricane Alley is from the devastating hurricane in 1938. Amelia Peabody had a crew cut down and build a series of jumps. The Peabody Loop, Hurricane Alley and the Expressway being part of the hunt is to memorialize her.”
Fourteen hounds followed the “drag”, or manmade scent that emulates that of a fox. “The sport is about following these working hounds,” Director D.A. Hayden the Trustees of Reservations exclaimed. “It’s centuries old. It started by protecting livestock; they didn’t want foxes going after chickens. Now we lay the scent and the hounds follow it.” Onlookers were astounded and enjoyed learning from the Master of Foxhounds, Huntsman, and Whipper-In as they kept the hounds on task as they “hunted the line.”
Riders enjoyed a “stirrup cup”, or a break in riding during the hunt for a cup of cider and some light refreshments, hence their breather at Powisset. “It’s partially for riders to cool down and horses to cool down,” Rodgers mentioned. “It’s also part social. People here are interacting with hounds and horses today.”
“There were several junior riders out there today,” Hayden mentioned, noting that thanks to the Norfolk Hunt Foundation, the younger participants were able to ride with the fee waived.
Hayden then turned her attention to the enthusiastic riders and spectators, and to the overall success of the day. “The Trustees, Norfolk Hunt Club, and Norfolk Hunt Foundation expand the awareness of foxhunting, keep land open, and keep young people in the sport.”
The organizers of the hunt accomplished a little bit of all that on Saturday — all while highlighting the rich contributions of Amelia Peabody.