HISTORY

 The Cloudline Hounds Hunt is located in Celeste, Texas. Celeste is in  the northeast part of the state. For purposes of general direction, it  is located south of Sherman, and between McKinney and Greenville. It is  approximately 70 miles northeast of Dallas and is serviced by highways  75 to the west, FM 121 to the north, and 30 to the east. The Hunt and  Kennels are located off of highway 69 between the towns of Leonard and  Celeste.  The Hunt was established by Col. Rex and Marjorie Denny,  MFH's in 1974. Col. Denny, who is a Celeste native, started the Hunt  soon after he retired from the United States Marine Corp where he served  with distinction as a fighter pilot. Marjorie was a very successful  Hunter/ Jumper competitor living in Virginia at the time. They met when  Rex was stationed there. It was Marjorie who introduced Rex to English  riding and the sport of foxhunting. Col. and Mrs. Denny, continue on  with daughter Susan as “Joint Masters”. 

Cloudline Hounds (CH), maintains “Recognized Hunt” status in the Masters  of Foxhounds Association (MFHA). There are 167 Recognized Hunts with  5,700 total members, in the U.S. and Canada. This designation is  reserved for Hunts that meet the rigorous criteria set forth by the  MFHA. These include maintaining a certain number of hounds, hunting  regularly throughout a given hunting season, and demonstrating a  commitment to meeting and maintaining the high standards of the MFHA in a  variety of ways. Col. Denny and daughter Susan have both served as  Western District Representatives to the MFHA. They are the only  father-daughter “team” to have done so. Susan, as Joint Master, follows  in her father’s footsteps serving as Huntsman, which means she is  responsible for all aspects of providing “sport” for the Hunt’s members,  and visitors. These include hunting the hounds, supervising the  kennels, and maintaining the all important good relations with the  landowners over whose property the hunt rides.  The CH is a “private”  Hunt, which means that the hounds, kennels, and for all intense and  purposes, the Hunt itself is owned by the Denny family. Members make a  donation annually which varies depending on the type of Membership one  holds. There are Individual, Family, and Social Memberships offered. The  “Formal Season” begins in early November and continues on through the  middle to end of March. Interested individuals, who would like to try  the sport, are visiting from out of town, or hunt on an occasional basis  may do so by paying a “Capping Fee”. There is a limit to the number of  times one can cap in a given season. 

The Hounds, the Country, and Hunting

The type of hounds most suited to the demands of hunting coyote and the  Cloudline country are both American and Crossbred hounds. Coyotes run in  a relatively straight line or very large circle and are capable of  clever maneuverings to throw off the hounds which are following scent  rather than line of sight. The CH Hunt maintains approximately 30 to 40  “couple”, meaning 60 to 80 hounds. Not all hounds will go out on a given  day. A normal hunting pack will consist of 20 to 30 hounds. They are  controlled by the huntsman by the use of “voice” and “horn”. 

CH’s “country” is comprised of abundant acreage characterized by rolling  grasslands and wooded areas that border the South Sulphur and Sabine  Rivers. There are a number of water crossings that must be negotiated  and are usually approached down banks, which at times can be somewhat  steep. Obedience in one’s mount is a most desirable trait. This is also a  characteristic that is called upon at “checks” when the huntsman  gathers the hounds. Once the hounds are “cast” by the huntsman the day’s  sport begins. Hounds pursue the quarry, which us usually coyote with  the occasional grey fox and bobcat. They are always under the huntsman’s  direction but are free to cover as much ground as necessary in pursuit.  While the huntsman has a plan for each hunt it is the quarry that  ultimately determines the direction and challenges of the day. The hunt  fields (first and second flights described in the Introduction to  Foxhunting), typically traverse a number of properties which are  accessed by jumps and/or gates. Depending on the time of year, scenting  conditions, and the rigors of the day hunts usually last anywhere from 2  to 4 hours. Hunting when the temperature is above 70 degrees puts a  good deal of strain on hounds, horses and of course, riders. The best  scenting conditions are during cooler times of the day, and when there  is some moisture on the ground. The coyote emits “scent” from the pads  of his feet and it is this which the hounds pursue. It is difficult to  “hold scent” when the ground is very warm, dry, and in windy conditions. 

During the Formal Season which typically commences on the first weekend  in November, the day’s activities normally begin at 10 AM. The Master  has the prerogative to alter this start time often depending on weather  conditions and expected temperatures. When ready the riders are mounted,  invited to share in a “Stirrup Cup” with a toast to the hounds and to  the day. Greetings are exchanged. Visitors and new members are  introduced. Field Masters for the day are announced. Riders are asked to  gather in relationship to the field in which they will ride. Hounds are  released from the staging paddock where they had gathered after being  called from their kennels. The hunt moves off to wherever the day’s hunt  will begin. Once arriving at that location the hounds are cast and off  we all go. 

The Master/Huntsman determines when it is time to call in the hounds and  to end the day’s sport. Once back at the Kennels the hounds are checked  for any possible injuries then put up in the comfort of their kennels.  The horses are tied to their trailers, in some cases turned out in  paddocks, or perhaps put in their stalls if they reside at Cloudline  Farm. The riders then gather for a “Hunt Breakfast” which is provided by  volunteer members, or is sometimes a “Potluck”. It is always a welcomed  opportunity to recount and share the joys and challenges of the day. 

Walking Hounds and Cubbing

 Maintaining a pack of hounds and a Hunt is a 24/7, 365 days a year task.  Hounds must be cared for, conditioned and trained. Hunt horses must be  developed for the specific challenges of the sport. During the spring,  summer and early fall hounds are “walked out” through which young hounds  learn the basics at the side of seasoned veterans. In the early stages  of training they are physically attached to the more experienced hounds  by means of a neck collar with a link between two hounds. This is the  source of the term “couple of hounds” previously mentioned. The period  for walking hounds is followed by that of “Roading” in which hounds go  out along with mounted riders. This adds to their training and  conditioning. Hunt members are encouraged to assist during these  sessions which also provide an excellent opportunity to train and  condition their horses. It is a perfect setting in which to introduce  new and potential members to the sport of foxhunting. Next comes the  Cubbing season, also known as “informal” hunting. This takes place a bit  later but still in the early fall when the temperatures are becoming  conducive to more rigorous outings. At this point the hounds are  actually hunting, but it is still a training period for hounds, horses,  and riders. The hunts are usually of short duration. 

Learning and Improving One’s Riding Skills/Hunt Horses for Sale

 Susan Gentry provides riding lessons for people of all ages and  experience levels at the Hunt’s kennels. She offers sessions on the  flat, over show style jumps, as well as opportunities to learn and  “school” over natural hunt country. Her life long experience and  enthusiastic approach to equestrian sport, most specifically foxhunting,  is the basis of her widely recognized skills as a Huntsman, trainer,  instructor, and provider of horses suitable for the hunt field. She can  furnish horses (on a limited basis) for lessons and/or for lease for  hunting. She has a wonderful reputation for matching riders and horses.   If you are “in the market” for a suitable field hunter, or even have  one or more that you wish to sell, Susan will be your number one  resource. 

Contacts

 To learn more about how you can join with the friendly folks that ride to hounds with the Cloudline Hounds contact: 


 Susan Denny Gentry, MFH