Photos by Helen H. Houghton

By Lisa Cowan

 

After 38 years as a Master of Foxhounds, Edward Kelly has stepped down from his leadership role at Golden’s Bridge Hounds. The club can’t begin to offer enough thanks for what Ed has brought to our organization through his many years of service.

“He’s been a good foxhunter: He loves it, enjoys it – it’s in our blood,” said Gene Colley, MFH, Golden’s Bridge Hounds. 

Most of the current members are familiar with Ed leading second flight, but he was known for being fearless at the front of first field. 

“If you wanted to jump, Ed was the guy to follow,” said Adam Feureisen, a Golden’s Bridge Hounds whipper-in who grew up in the hunt. Adam recalled a legendary morning behind Ed.

“We started at Windswept, and we ran probably two hours straight in the pouring rain,” Adam said. “The day kept going on, and we kept losing more and more people.”

Adam was 13 years old and riding his little white Appaloosa, Nixon. 

“I don’t know what happened, but the next thing you know, it was me and Ed and we ended up going on for probably another hour and half or two hours – just the two of us,” he said.

Leading a flight requires skill and dedication to follow the hounds. “You want to give people an exhilarating day, but you also need to be knowledgeable of the sport and hunting,” said David Feureisen, MFH, Golden’s Bridge Hounds.

“Ed has always had an uncanny knowledge of every inch of Golden’s Bridge Hounds’ hunt country,” David said. “He was always in the right place with the hounds and was a wonderful Field Master.”

Ed learned to ride in his 30s when he took a few lessons from Cecil Broad, former huntsman at Golden’s Bridge Hounds.  Cecil promptly took Ed along on his first hunt in 1970. He was hooked. Ed joined the hunt in 1971 and received his colors in 1974. 

“Sport – that’s what it’s all about,” Ed said. “There’s got to be a little anxiety, or else you take all the fun out of it!”

Ed Kelly and Bootsie Hearst. Courtesy of Ed Kelly

Ed with Charity and Sean, two of his four children. Courtesy of Ed Kelly

When long-time member Anita Zander came out with Golden’s Bridge Hounds for her first hunt in 1987, Ed made a strong impression. “He was so incredibly welcoming and wonderful and wanted to be helpful,” Anita said. She has great memories of Ed leading the field, particularly in the North Country. “He always had the best time. He really loved us and loved leading us. You just really felt that joy with him.”

Many riders in the area owe their knowledge of proper fox hunting etiquette to Ed’s strong leadership. Adam said Ed could be strict, but he always explained why the rules were important. 

“Ed was the fun Master – he was always a good time to follow,” Adam said. Ed and his wife Sue have four children – Eric, Charity, Sean, and Tim – the three eldest having earned their colors with Golden’s Bridge. Ed devoted decades to improving the sport at all levels. 

“All his waking hours,” Colley said. “When you’re a Master, that’s what you do.”

As treasurer of Golden’s Bridge Hounds, Ed managed the business and finances of the club in good times and in bad, David said, “And there were some difficult and lean times.”

Ed also has spent many years working on government relations for Golden’s Bridge Hounds, and he has been the liaison for the New York hunts in the area with their lobbyist in Albany. 

“There’s always legislation being proposed that could put an end to hunting at any time,” David said. 

Ed first became interested in government relations out of frustration with lawmakers’ decisions. “They were passing these laws and we had no voice in Albany,” Ed said. Because of his wife Sue’s involvement in government as a U.S. representative, Ed said that helped him better understand the process.

A Master since 1984, Ed has been part of the leadership of the MFHA for more than 25 years, holding many roles, including president. 

“It’s the heart of our sport,” Ed said, and that’s why he encouraged David to get involved in MFHA leadership, as well as Yolanda Knowlton, ex MFH. Ed still holds a director-at-large position. Because of his work, Golden’s Bridge Hounds is now acknowledged on a national level. “If you’re going to be part of the team, you might as well be a player,” he said.

As a past president, Ed currently serves on the Executive Committee. “The Executive Committee is of tremendous help to me in my role as president as each member offers much wisdom and guidance,” said current MFHA president, Leslie Rhett Crosby, MFH.

“In my experience with Ed, I feel one of his greatest contributions is simply of time and energy given to his hunt club Golden’s Bridge Hounds as well as the MFHA,” Leslie continued. “He shared his leadership with a steady, professional approach. In thinking of Ed’s tenure, I am struck by his long-term service and commitment to the sport — both locally and nationally. Thirty-eight years (1984 – 2022) serving as Master is quite a run!”

While he may have stepped down as a Master, you can still expect to see Ed in the hunt field during formal season. At 86 [he will be 87 in August], he still rides out twice a week on his black Quarter Horse, Dozer, and Paint/Draft cross, Stormy. 

“If any of us are riding like he is in our eighties, we’ll be blessed,” Adam said.