Sunday, August 22, 2010

Good Bye Aiken Hounds

Dear Aiken Hounds Friends,

It is with much regret that I write this letter to all of you. On August 9th, at 9:00am, Linda Mclean came into my house unannounced and told me I was no longer Joint Master of the Aiken Hounds. There was no discussion or communication. The decision had been made and I was out. I wish to make it perfectly clear that I have not and will not resign upon Linda’s orders without due reason and/ or cause. To this day, I am unclear of the reason for this decision.

I have hunted with the Aiken Hounds under several masters and have a long standing family history with the hunt. This is not only unfair and unwarranted to me but a direct insult to my family history in this town and also to the Aiken Hounds itself. It is also insulting to all of you that the hunt is being run in this manner.

It was a huge honor to be asked by Linda in 1997 to become a Joint Master. This has always been a job I have taken seriously and carried out with tremendous pride. .I have filled almost every position in the hunt and hunted hounds myself for several years. I have fulfilled all kennel duties and have organized multiple activities to support the hunt.

Apparently, the Aiken Hounds have no formal By-Laws. The way this has happened is all rather mysterious. After receiving the news from Linda, I approached the past Masters of The Aiken Hounds to learn if I had any recourse. I was assured by the three past Masters that this was not the way to do things and they offered to hold a meeting where Linda and I could discuss this in a calm, controlled manner. They assured me when the Mastership was passed onto Linda, The Aiken Hounds was never meant to be owned by one person.

They also assured me of their complete support. Just before the meeting, I received a call saying the meeting was cancelled and there was nothing anyone could do. Again, there was no reason, no explanation. I was told I just had to accept Linda’s decision.

I feel this is an unrealistic and unprofessional way to handle a situation. Just two weeks prior to this debacle, Linda and I were planning the calendar for the next season and all seemed right with the world. There was no indication that I was to be “removed “from the hunt.

Apparently, I have somehow fallen out of Linda’s favor. She has made the decision that I am not interested in hunting or the welfare of the Aiken Hounds. It is my intent that all of you know why I may not be hunting with the Aiken Hounds again. I have been told I am not “allowed to”.

It is my intent that I tell you my interest as Joint Master was to maintain the integrity and tradition of the Aiken Hounds, full stop. There was no duty I would not do to support the hunt.

My exodus from the Aiken Horse Show was well known, as are my feelings towards the modern practices of drugging horses. Linda does not share these feelings.

The Fox Hunter safety clinics have been highly successful and improved the quality of our hunting. I shall continue to hold them as I hope they will help maintain the old traditions of good riding and horsemanship rather than promoting better riding through chemistry. It is my opinion that one must learn how to ride a horse first before one can ride with hounds.

I enjoy my time with the Aiken Hounds immensely. I have hunted in many places and the Aiken Hounds are very special to me. Linda is very wrong to have come up with whatever opinion she now holds. Sadly, she has created some scenario in her mind that lacks the dignity and honesty a senior Master of Hounds should portray. Her mother would be mortified by this behavior as is mine. No hunt can run without complications and issues but communication is a far greater tool than annihilation and/or sabotage. I am willing to own up to any offense I may have committed but feel I am due the respect and courtesy of a full explanation.

I am sure there may be people out there who are not interested in the knowing the “what’s or why’s” of these goings on. In Linda’s most recent hunt invitation of 2011, she made public that I am no longer hunting with the Aiken Hounds... I am terribly grateful for the outpouring of support I have received from many of you and I hope this will not make things awkward for any of you when next we meet.

I am and have been an active supporter of this town and care very much about Aiken. I hope you will continue to join the Fox Hunter safety clinics and support the Horse Trials at Paradise Farm. I also want you to know that I was “advised” not to write this letter telling me this would be bad for my business and future in Aiken. I have chosen to write this as I believe in who I am and what I do. I believe in principle and proper etiquette.

The Aiken Hounds and the Hitchcock woods and Aiken itself are for no one person. The tradition of sport and sportsmanship founded by the Hitchcock’s are something we all need to remember and emulate. This is what Aiken is about.

In closing. I strongly suggest that a committee be formed and formal by-laws be written to govern the Aiken Hounds, to protect all involved from issues like this. The Aiken Hounds are unique and very very special. I do not believe the entire future of one of Aiken’s finest traditions should lie completely in the hands of one person. I was told there was a committee, by the committee to do just this. But that committee changed their minds and stories very quickly.

I am looking for closure to a very sad incident in my life. I have never been thrown out of anything... I do not know why this has happened or how long this had been preplanned by Linda. I feel I deserve, as anyone would, a proper explanation. I ask all of you to put yourselves in my position for a moment and decide how you would feel if this happened to you.


Lellie Ward

Sunday, August 15, 2010

A Sad Time For Aiken

I try to write happy , upbeat things but sometimes I can't always be that way. I am currently away from Aiken but feel it is important to write this blog.

Right before I left on this trip, at nineA.M.. I was bombarded by a purple faced screaming Linda Mclean. This visit was unannounced and a big surprise. I was minding my own business about to teach a lesson to a paying client when Linda arrived.Screaming and yelling with a wagging
, she scolded me me like a bad child.She huffed and puffed like a baseball umpire telling me "YOU;RE OUT!" Her demenour was laughable.After scolding me,she stomped up from her chair and ran out to her car like a coward.She drove away spewing the pebbles from my driveway like a bankrobber in a getaway car

I consider this inappropriate behaviour from a Master of Foxhounds.There was no discussion. The decision had been long made behind my back.Apparantly she has wanted to do this for a very long time. This is in fact the second time she has demanded my resignation.

The first time she made such cowardly demands was due to rumour involved by another one of Aikens fine citzens. I have known Linda most of my life .We both have a long standing history in Aiken with our families.Her current behaviour is a direct insult to the way we were brought up.But Linda is a much more social animal than myself. She is easily swayed by gossip and stories and does not have a backbone strong enough to seek the truth. Information gained at cocktail parties and restaurant jabber are the primary sources of her opinions.

Linda has decided for the second time that all I care about is myself and my eventing. She has declared to all behind my back for some time that I am not interested in hunting or the Aiken Hounds. An interesting concept. None of it true in any sense of the word and completely unfounded.

Our differences are ethical. I believe in the maintaning the integrety and history of the Aiken Hounds. Linda does not. Linda is pro drugs and I am not. I think this was where the trouble started. I cannot abide seeing first hand the majority of our staff and our master using drugs to be able to ride to hounds or to ride in the famous show in the woods. Full stop.Mrs. Hitchcock would roll in her grave.

There are plenty of opportunties to learn how to ride to hounds. But most people think they know it all and do not need to practice. Her attempts at down grading the quality of the drags is sad. Her attempts at making it more like live hunting are a crime. The Aiken Hounds is a drag pack. Let's hope it does´t die out completely with Linda.

Linda has made the assumption that my lack of participation at hound shows means I do not like hunting or the Aiken Hounds.This is not true. I work for a living and have little time to attend shows I am not actively participating in.

Hound shows are great fun when one has the time.I do not have the time.Nor am I interested in the subjective opions of the judges.

Linda has excluded me from every aspect of the Aiken Hounds.. Never in the history of the Aiken Hounds has any Master made the hunt their own personal hunt. I have been told by Linda and Dennis Foster of the MFHA that this is indeed Lindas hunt and she can do what she wants.So she has chosen to dismis me the way she has chosen to put so many of our hounds down.In Linda's world everythinig is disposable. A warning to all of those that choose to remain.

I am disgusted by Lindas cowardice. I despise untruth. Her holier than thou attitude is contemptuous.

I have written about the honor of wearing the green coat. I have written about the beauty of the Aiken Hounds for years. There is nothing I would not have done to prove my loyalty to the hunt.Once again, Linda has chosen the wrong path.

I am sad it has ended this way.Aiken is changing so fast. Gone are the days where one´s word is one´s bond. Gone are the days of honesty. Gone are the days where the Master of Hounds is not afraid to ride.

Linda says she needs a new Joint Master that will show more interest in the hunt than I did. I hope she will at least explain to the new JM their duties according to Linda. It is not easy to be a mind reader. It is a sad time for Aiken.It is a sad time for me.