~Where there are no hounds the fox is king ~

By Laura Pettler
My love for fox hunting spans more than a decade and a half and my husband and I are blessed to be part of a wonderful group of individuals in Waxhaw Horse Country who hunt fixtures in throughout the Piedmont and into upstate South Carolina. We appreciate so much all of those who contribute to our learning and whom we glean a tremendous amount of hunting enjoyment and horsemanship with throughout the year. 

In September 2013, I decided to take Forte out of the dressage arena to try fox hunting...At first, he was as most new fox hunters are, a little nervous, unsure, but soon, he took to the new experiences like I couldn’t believe. 

Forte has overcome and continues to overcome obstacles that being a Friesian naturally attempts to limit his ability to perform as a fox hunter. Forte has excelled at this sport and could not be happier. I am incredibly proud that he can hunt the flatlands of Lowcountry’s fixtures just as well as he can the hilly terrain of Green Creek’s fixtures. Forte’s enthusiasm has only increased and I look forward to the many seasons to come.

Forte and I were Senior Hunt Staff for Mecklenburg Hounds, based in Waxhaw Horse Country which meant Forte is an Honorary Whipper-In horse not a job often done well by light-drafts like Friesians. We were honored to win the MHI Service Award for the 2012-2013 Season and Kevin and Finale won the My Mouse Award for the 2012-2013 Season.  

My obsession with the baroque breeds began when I was a child, but was further fueled when I was training with Robert Mayer and his apprentices in the Pittsburgh, PA area as a young adult. Mr. Mayer had Lipizzaners, whose lineage is founded on Andalusian bloodlines. Some of my experiences there led me to begin researching Friesians and Andalusian bloodlines over the years that could be specifically and meticulously crossed to create an exceptional Warlander. We purchased one of the finest bred PRE Mares in hopes to begin hunting her, but chose to trade our mare for two Friesian mares late 2014 to solely focus on foxhunting Friesians. The Friesian has proven to be a phenomenal fox hunter and we get many requests for where to "buy a foxhunting Friesian". The Friesian, while a light-draft can be trained to perform as well as any other breed for foxhunting that can gallop long coyote-run type distances in the flatlands as well as the foothills with grace, balance, comfort, and ease. 

 Fortissimo was a Staff Horse for Mecklenburg Hounds, Inc. Photo: Lowcountry Hunt Weekend 2014