Roger Scullin, MFH

Leading the Field for 30 Years

 

New Master Roger Scullin studying the day's hound list, as presented by huntsman Johnny Bill Linton.
In 1978, with 20 years of hunting under his belt already, a young vet from Minnesota assumed the mastership of one of the oldest lineages of foxhound bloodlines in the country. Roger I. Scullin dedicated the next 30 years of his life to preserving these historic bloodlines while continuing to develop a keen hound suited for the varied territory of the Howard County – Iron Bridge Hounds.

During his tenure, he saw the merger of two packs and two clubs, the Howard County Hounds and the Iron Bridge Hounds, and oversaw the design and building of state-of-the-art kennels. In addition to nurturing and developing young hounds, Dr. Scullin nurtured and developed new foxhunters, introducing countless local horse people to the glory of hounds in full cry.

In addition to his myriad duties as Master of Foxhounds and a popular local equine vet, Dr. Scullin has played a critical role in the “behind-the-scenes” aspects of the sport of foxhunting, as well as the horse industry in general. He has served the Masters of Foxhounds Association as a district director and continues to serve on the board of the Maryland Association for Wildlife Conservation, which handles legislative and regulatory relations for foxchasing. Of course, he has actively served on numerous vet-related boards and continues to serve on the board of the Maryland Steeplechase Association, but that is a focus for another article.

While a 30-year (and counting) tenure as MFH of a subscription pack is not a record, it is both unusual and notable. Masters in subscription packs are elected, and thus can be voted out with changing fashions, favors or politics. For others, the job of Master is so unrelentingly time consuming—and thankless—that many can only devote a few years of their life to it. It is a small fraternity of Masters who serve for 30 or more years. As Dennis Foster, executive director of the Masters of the Foxhounds Association, noted, “To be Master of a [subscription] pack for 30 years is an exceptional accomplishment, and the Masters of the Foxhounds Association acknowledges Dr. Scullin’s contributions to not only the Howard County-Iron Bridge Hounds, but foxhunting in North America.”

The membership of the Howard County-Iron Bridge Hounds is celebrating with a Hunt Week on November 9-15. In the meantime, a few Equiery readers tip their caps in recognition of Dr. Roger Scullin, MFH.

A Renaissance Foxhunter
Roger Scullin is truly a renaissance foxhunter. He touches every aspect of the sport. He is particularly aware of and participates in the more global issues and trends affecting our sport, like predatory legislation and the animal rights agenda. He is also intimately involved in the minute details of our sport such as the subtle science of the hound breeding process.

It has been my pleasure to serve with Roger on the Boards of the Maryland Association for Wildlife Conservation, as well as the Maryland Steeplechase Association. Roger has a powerful influence over both of those organizations exercised in a quiet, deliberate, but ultimately persuasive manner. Roger is the type to remain silent during most of the discussion, quietly and carefully considering all of the offered views. He then offers an opinion that cuts to the heart of the issue in a way that helps bring resolution to the discussion. He is also uniquely selfless in his devotion to our sport, quietly offering assistance and guidance. He is remarkably at once a student of hound breeding and the unrelated challenges of kennel construction.

All of us at the Elkridge-Harford Hunt Club will be forever in Roger’s debt for sharing his valuable insights in the construction of our kennel. Roger had spent several years researching and visiting kennels and attempting to formulate a plan for the perfect kennel. It was our good fortune that our kennel project came along a couple of years after HCIB’s. Roger was more than happy to share all of his research and experience and valuable tips on those few inevitable things that you would do differently if you were to do it again. It was vintage Roger. Down to the details of a hound feed mixture that would both provide proper nutrition and at the same time limit odor and promote rapid decay of manure. I will admit to not giving much thought to that topic before engaging in a 2-hour discussion with Roger!

Our sport is fortunate to have a gem like Roger and we are all lucky to have him as our friend.
- Jay Young President, Maryland Association of Wildlife Conservation and President, Elkridge-Harford Hunt Club

A Wealth of Hound Knowledge
I once hosted a hunting week on Exmoor, in Somerset, England. The guests included Roger and Marion Scullin and Skip and Vicky Crawford.

The Master of Exmoor was Captain Ronnie Wallace, the dean of post World War II hunting and breeding, and it was simply fascinating to overhear the hours of conversation about breeding, mixed breed packs, etc. that went on between Capt. Wallace and the great veterinarian and sportsman, Roger Scullin. It was really quite humbling to know how much these two men know about our sport.
- Greg Gingery, Rockville

Sit Deep & Tight!
Roger Scullin was my vet. Of course, he talked about foxhunting and that it was something we should do! With his encouragement, we joined Iron Bridge (Howard County Hunt Club was too fast and jumps were too big! ). As I became addicted to hunting (becoming a whip and then field master at Iron Bridge), and having a joint meet with Howard County Hounds under my belt, I decided I was ready for Howard County! That first day out, we hunted from old club [located at Triadelphia & Folly Quarter Roads] and ran a fox all the way [about five miles] to the Manor [historic Doughoregan Manor, still the seat of the Carroll family, descendants of Charles Carroll of Carrollton, signer of the Declaration of Independence], thru Glenelg Country Day School and back. Awesome! I signed on!

Roger taught me the difference between hunting to ride and riding to the hounds. With his encouragement, Allen [Forney, retired HCIBH huntsman] and [his wife] Jeanne, Linda Solano and I started showing hounds for Iron Bridge. We had so much fun competing with Roger and Marion, and then hunting and showing for Howard County [after the merger of the two packs] – our friendship was forged.

When you saw Roger shift his position in the saddle, you sat tight and deep in the saddle, as you were in for a long hard run. Many days we were out seven hours and glad of it. Memorable hunts with Ben Hardaway in Georgia and Alabama…the unforgettable hunt with [the late] Johnny Bill [Linton, former huntsman] at Andrews Bridge…Roger and Howard County members were always there at the end on away hunts – sometimes just us! The years hunting behind Roger were exciting and memorable, and I wouldn’t trade any of it.
- Diane Carlson, Mt. Airy

A Passionate Teacher
The top listed character trait of Roger Scullin’s that I so admire is his passion for the art of fox chasing. His communication of that passion has resulted in a lifetime commitment to the art by the two generations thus far of my family.

I first met Roger Scullin as a member of Iron Bridge Hunt when it merged with Howard County Hounds in 1985. Roger and joint MFH Tom Scrivener – and of course the huntsman, Johnny Bill Linton – were so inviting and welcoming to the few of us that merged, their excitement and enthusiasm was so infectious that soon the newness and uncertainty of merging hounds, territory and fixtures, quickly evaporated into one cohesive club. Roger’s passion – expressed through his coaching, teaching, and explanations of hound work to anyone who wanted to learn – was a treat I never have taken for granted.

I cherish a certain memory of an evening puppy walking at the clubhouse grounds on Triadelphia Road. I was walking with our elder daughter Alex in a backpack, Pete Radue (whipper-in extraordinaire) was walking with his son Edward in a backpack and his toddler daughter Ellie walking next to him. Because Pete was carrying a hunt whip in his hand, Roger was holding Ellie’s hand, talking to the children the entire time about the puppies, their names, and how they were responding to Johnny Bill. No child was too young to be infected with his passion. Of course, Roger was quite experienced teaching children about fox chasing, having shared the joy of fox chasing with his own two daughters, who by that time were young adults.

Once the young ones join the mounted field, it would be hard for me to believe that any MFH could be more kind, considerate, and patient of young children, errant ponies, and “keeping up.” Roger always made sure that my girls and I were still “with him” at the end of a run, sometimes calling to the back of the field to make sure we made it over a log, or through a deep portion of the river – always aware we were there in the end. The foundations of foxchasing through its necessary cross country riding skills have served our girls very well, as they both now event. Eventing editorials will often lament that not enough event riders have those basic saddle tight instincts honed from years of cross country riding in the hunt field. We wholeheartedly agree!
This family cherishes the memories we have – and continue to make – fox chasing with Roger Scullin. Invariably, driving home from a meet or event competition we will bring up a “remember when” moment regarding a funny pony, a certain coop, beautiful fixture, or away meet out fox chasing behind Roger Scullin. Howard County-Iron Bridge Hounds and Roger Scullin, MFH have been good for our souls.
- Gayle Libby Curtiss, Brookeville

 

Masters Roger Scullin and Ski Crawford lead the field for a joint HCIB/Pickering meet sometime in the 19802.

A Friendly Rivalry
Almost 30 years ago, Skip and I heard about this new Master at Howard County Hunt who happened to be a vet. I was at my friend Janet Carter’s (formerly-Hitchen) farm and in drove the new vet she had been raving about. She introduced us and I replied, “So you are the new MFH at Howard County?” We struck up a conversation about fox hunting and how much we loved the sport. I decided then and there that I needed a new vet.

Almost immediately, Roger Scullin and his wife Marion became our good friends, and we have enjoyed hunting in each other’s country ever since. Every year, it was always a contest as to who could keep the field out the longest, Skip or Roger. Fortunately, Johnny Bell Linton and Larry Pitts were very accommodating and showed us excellent sport at each meeting. Some of the stories we could tell about hunting in the most awful weather, under the absolute worst conditions and staying out until dark would make your hair turn white -– which is exactly what has happened over the last 30 years! We are a little creakier now, too.

Fortunately, we competed in different rings at the hound shows, because they have a crossbred pack and we have an American pack. This enabled us to cheer for each other’s hounds. Roger has always admired our hounds, and because we traditionally have a lemon and white pack, we often gave him our tri-colored hounds who bred well with his crossbred hounds. When judging our hounds over the years, Roger always seemed to pick some of Larry’s favorites without knowing it. He just knew a good hound when he saw it. He is one of those rare people who can discuss hounds and bloodlines for hours and remember all the details. Most people can’t remember the names of their children!

In 1993, we had a steeplechase horse named Motorcade who was the Sport of Kings Novice Champion, giving us the opportunity to travel to England and race him at Cheltenham. Not expecting anyone to accompany us on this trip except our trainer, Joe Gillet (now Davies), we mentioned to several friends that we were going to make this trip. Roger and Marion Scullin were the first to say “We’re coming, too!” We were so overwhelmed with the group that assembled, but especially because Roger and Marion were coming from a veterinarian meeting in Texas with no chance to go home first and refresh themselves. They made the ultimate sacrifice for us, to be with us and to cheer us on. For this reason, we will always consider the Scullins our dear foxhunting friends for whom we have the utmost respect because of their knowledge of hunting, hounds, steeplechasing and now boating!

Congratulations, Roger! Here’s to another 30 years! Let’s see, that would make you close to 100—but I think you are up for it!
- Vicki and Skip Crawford, MFH Potomac Hunt

More Than a Chase
Hunting with HC-IB Hounds behind Roger Scullin, you realized the sport was more than saddling up and chasing after a fox two or three times a week. You didn’t just jump the coop in the fall; you cleared the trail and built the coop in the summer! It wasn’t just about following the pack of hounds on opening cubbing day; it was about the puppy walking when you discussed bloodlines and lineage. It wasn’t just running and jumping over beautiful land; it was the thoughtful planning before the meet, the worrying about the weather and the parking, the many conversations with landowners.

At Howard County, we enjoyed several joint meets each season. Perhaps the most exciting was the trip to Belle Meade Hunt in Georgia. Our field was anticipating a coyote run, as we had heard tales of them but never experienced one. However, our HC-IB pack insisted on finding and running fox each day, much to the delight of our hosts, who obviously had not run a fox for a long time—and much to the pride of Roger!
- Cathy Noell, Mt. Airy

For the Love of Foxes
Roger Scullin first introduced me to hunting in 1971, with a pack belonging to a farmer named Sam Stiles in Goshen’s country. Even then, Roger’s infectious enthusiasm for hunting was hard to ignore, and it was hard to go away unconvinced.

The chapter on The Master of the Hounds from Trollope’s Hunting Sketches describes—better than I—Roger Scullin as Master of the Foxhounds:
But the Master of Hounds who does not know his business is seen through at once. To say what that business is would take a paper longer than this, and the present writer by no means considers himself equal to such a task. But it is multifarious, and demands a special intellect for itself.

The Master should have an eye like an eagle’s, an ear like a thief’s and a heart like a dog’s that can be either soft or ruthless as occasion may require. How he should love his foxes …! How he should rejoice when his skill has assisted in giving the choice men of his hunt a run that they can remember for the next six years! And how heavy should be his heart within him when he trudges home with them, weary after a blank day, to the misery of which his incompetency has, perhaps, contributed!

A Master of Hounds should be an anxious man; so anxious that that privilege of talking to pretty girls should be of little service to him. One word I will say as to the manners of a Master of Hounds, and then I will have done. He should be an urbane man, but not too urbane, and he should certainly be capable of great austerity.

It used to be said that no captain of a man-of-war could hold his own without swearing. I will not quite say the same of a Master of Hounds, or the old ladies who think hunting to be wicked will have a handle against me. But I will declare that if any man could be justified in swearing, it would be a Master of Hounds. The troubles of the captain are as nothing to his. The captain has the ultimate power of the sword, or at any rate of the fetter, in his hands, while the Master has but his own tongue to trust — his tongue and a certain influence which his position gives him. The Master who can make that influence suffice without swearing is indeed a great man.

Drs. Roger Scullin and Pete Radue, discussing hounds a few years back.


Now-a-days, swearing is so distasteful to the world at large, that great efforts are made to rule without it, and some such efforts are successful; but any man who has hunted for the last 20 years will bear me out in saying that hard words in a Master’s mouth used to be considered indispensable. Now and then a little irony is tried. “I wonder, sir, how much you’d take to go home?” I once heard a Master ask of a red-coated stranger who was certainly more often among the hounds than he need have been. “Nothing on earth, sir, while you carry on as you are doing just at present,” said the stranger. The Master accepted the compliment, and the stranger sinned no more.

There are some positions among mankind which are so peculiarly blessed that the owners of them seem to have been specially selected by Providence for happiness on earth in a degree sufficient to raise the malice and envy of all the world around.
- Dr. Peter Radue, Former HC-IBH whipper-in

 

 

 

 

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