Established in 1876, the Genesee Valley Hunt has only gotten better with age. Major Austin W. Wadsworth was the first Master of the Hunt and when he took over, the pack of hounds were brought each time by members of the hunt. This caused chaos as the hounds would not hunt together and would only answer to their own master. As a result, he developed his own pack of cross-bred hounds and within fifteen years, the Genesee Valley Hunt was considered unparalleled in the fox hunting society of the US. While there have been a few changes in Masters, it has mostly stayed “in the family” with the current Joint-Masters, Martha D. and W. Austin Wadsworth—the grandchildren of the original Master—along with Marion Thorne. With visitors from Ireland, France, and our neighbor Canada there is no doubt that our small area is gaining an international, respectable reputation.
While the staff is currently in the stage of “hound jogging,” exercising and training the hounds, they will begin their informal hunting season in the first week of July. If you’re an early riser, the formal season will begin with a parade down Main Street, Geneseo, known as the Opening Meet. It truly is a sight to see, and almost feels as if you have travelled back in time, watching proper Gentlemen and Ladies march together to celebrate their beloved sport.
Kathleen Kirkwood, local resident and “whipper-in” on staff at the GVH says, “There’s nothing in my life that I can compare to hunting with the Genesee Valley Hunt. I’ve been hunting since I was somewhere around 10. The GVH is something really special; not just the sport, but the community that it creates. Everyone is out there doing the same thing – enjoying the sport of hunting, their horses, and each other. There’s something about the bonds that are built when you finish a run, look over at the person next to you and say ‘Wow! I can’t believe we just did that!’”
While many people may misunderstand the motives behind this lively and very social activity, they are welcome to come and watch the happenings as well as visit the GVH website, geneseevalleyhunt.org.
While I have not participated in the hunt recently, due to University and traveling, I am a lifetime lover of the sport and recommend it to everyone, at any age or ability level.