The Longacre Hunt
Ruth O'Hara founded the Longacre Hunt in 1992, after
the Stonebroke Hunt, to which she had belonged, moved from Conroe to another state. She and her husband, Houston Oilman
Art Preston, raised thoroughbreds on their Lone Oak Ranch in Marquez. He and his two brothers, partners in Prestonwood
Farm of Versailles, Kentucky, owned Victory Gallop (whose photo-finish win of the 1998 Belmont Stakes denied Real Quiet the
Triple Crown) and Da Hoss, two time winner of the Breeder's Cup Mile. Ruth rode to the hounds until her death in
1999 after a long battle with cancer.
Two years before
she died, artist Susie McLain had visited her to seek permission to photograph the action for her paintings of horses and
hounds. "Before the day was over, I had bought a horse and been invited to ride with the hunt," she recalls.
Although Susie had ridden Western all her life, she quickly adapted to riding English and grew to love the sport. She
became hunt secretary and her husband, Cliff, who owns a pipebending company in Houston, became a whipper-in.
After Ruth's death, Art Preston released the management of Longacre Hunt to the
McLains. They built kennels for the pack on their ranch in Leon County.
The pack numbered 14 couples of American, Crossbred and Penn-Mary Del breeding. In 2006, the McLains, although
still active in the hunt, passed the management of the hounds to John and Marcia deLeyer, who moved the kennel operations
to Tomball. Managing the hounds is a tremendous undertaking and requires the support of the entire staff. Susie
McLain, John deLeyer and Sam Judge are the current Masters of Foxhounds. Emily Dewing is the Huntsman. Gina Sanderson
is the Secretary and Fieldmaster. Michaela deLeyer is Junior Fieldmaster. Marcia deLeyer is Second Fieldmaster.
The Whippers-in are Tammy Wincott, Jimmye K. Locander, and Robert Broomhall. Andre deLeyer is Junior Whipper-in.
Cheryl Alexander is Kennelman and Morgan Sanderson is Junior Kennelman.
Members and guests of the hunt often ride on the 3000 acre Flying I Ranch, near Dobbin in Montgomery County, 24 miles
west of Conroe. Average rider attendance for the weekend hunts, which
run from November through March, is 15-35, plus numerous non-riders who join in for the fun. Most come from the Houston
area, with a few from San Antonio and Austin. The terrain, on the edge of the Piney Woods, is rolling hills, some heavily
wooded, and interspersed with creeks.
The hunters pursue fox and
coyote, but the quarry is not killed. Sometimes a "drag" is used, instead of live-hunting. In a "drag",
fox scent is dragged over a pre-determined terrain and the hounds "hunt" the scent. There are low coops and
natural jumps along the trails, but most are designed so that the obstacles can be ridden around, allowing non-jumpers to
participate in the excitement.
Longacre Hunt colors
Pantone Matching system (PMS):collar
567C, piping 466SC