History of Bridlespur
The Bridlespur Hunt was founded in 1927 with the inspiration, support and assistance of the late Mr. August A. Busch Sr., who obtained the original draft of hounds from the well-known Joseph B. Thomas-Percy Rockefeller pack at Overhills, North Carolina. They consisted entirely of American hounds, or, as better known, Virginia Hounds. By careful breeding and observation the two guiding spirits of the Hunt, Mr. August A. Busch Jr., and Mr. Adelbert Von Gontard Sr., developed a pack with most excellent nose and voice. They have gone out twice a week since that time, even during the war years of 1941-1946.
After the development of West St. Louis County began making it impossible to foxhunt in that area, under the leadership of Andrew Shinkle, MFH and James B. Orthwein, MFH, new kennels, clubhouse and skeet shooting range were completed in St. Charles County. The Benne Road location was our home since 1957.
In 2001 The Bridlespur Hunt and the Meramec Valley Hunt joined together. The merging of fixtures and members from both clubs has solidified and strengthened Fox Hunting in the St. Louis Metropolitan area. The name of the resulting hunt is The Bridlespur Hunt.
The Meramec Valley Hunt was established in 1981 by Wayne Kennedy, Joe Sansone and Dr. Bruce R. McCloskey. The club was recognized by the Masters of Foxhound Association in 1988. The club hunted Crossbred Foxhounds mainly in the territory South of Interstate 44. Upon Mr. Kennedy’s retirement in 1995 the horn was turned over to Jill Wagenknecht. Jill was made Co-Master in 1996. Mary Hensel replaced Joe Sansone in 2000 as Co- Master with Dr. McCloskey and Jill Wagenknecht.
Once again urban development forced the club to search for a new location in 2006. Through the tireless effort of Werner Kugler, MFH, Bridlespur found its new home in Lincoln County. A new kennel and lovely clubhouse were built to complete the new home of Bridlespur Hunt. 1400 acres of beautiful rolling hills and woods of conservation land, provide wonderful hunting and incredible trail riding. This should secure the future of The Bridlespur Hunt and the sport of fox hunting for years to come.
The Annual Bridlespur Horse Show
From Sports Illustrated May 20, 1957 “Time tugs at most of man’s creations, molding and changing them, but the classic elegance of the horse show has a charmed existence. All the world over, its ingredients are the same–spinning wheels of flashing carriages, measured hoofbeats of perfect steeds, riders in costumes of traditional cut and hue. Queen Victoria, transported from 19th century Hyde Park to 20th century St. Louis, would scarcely feel a stranger. Here, in a snug hollow in Huntleigh Village, just outside the city, lies the Bridlespur Hunt Club, which annually plays host to a show that draws the best of horses and riders from all over the state for competition and attracts the most prominent members of St. Louis society as onlookers. In and out of the ring, Bridlespur is dominated by the family of August A. Busch Jr. (see cover), whose father founded the hunt 30 years ago (now 85 years). A classic in St. Louis, it is likewise a symbol now to horse lovers everywhere of the beginning outdoor season.”
The Bridlespur Hunt has hosted an annual horse show since the 30’s when it was a common site to have saddle horses and Hackneys competing with the hunters and jumpers. Over the years, like most shows, the breeds separated and Bridlespur became an exclusively hunter/jumper show. For years it remained the premier event of the St. Louis horsey set, and as late as the 1980’s, the August Busch stable competed with the multi-titled Stocking Stuffer. In 2011, because of one board member who also has Saddlebreds, it was proposed that the Bridlespur Horse Show again include classes for saddle horses much like Devon or Germantown (and now the National Horse Show). Instead, the entire show was turned over to Saddlebreds and Hackneys, joined forces with the Missouri Horse Shows Association to launch the show season, and became the new Bridlespur MHSA Kick-Off Show.
Masters of the Fox Hounds
Those who have served as M.F.H. throughout the years of the Bridlespur Hunt:
Adalbert vonGontard 1927-28
August A. Busch, Jr 1929-37 & 1946-47
Mrs. Henry J. Kaltenbach, Jr. 1938-46
Adolphus B. Orthwein 1946-51
Louis F. Aitken 1947-52 & 1969-72
Paul Victor vonGontard 1951-52
James B. Orthwein 1952-87
Andrew J. Shinkle 1952-69
James A. Butler, Jr. 1972-74
Parker B. Condie 1974-78
Harry C. Weber 1983-85
Mr. Wayne Kennedy 1978-79
Mrs. Thomas S. Kenny, Jr. 1978-86
Mrs. E.H. Lewis, Jr. 1986-2000
Mr. John C. Heisler 1989-90
Mr. Franklin F. Starcher 1991-94
Mrs. Thomas M. Carney 1991-2016
Mr. Gene Deutsch 1999-Present
Mr. Werner Kugler 2000-2007
Dr. Bruce McCloskey 2001-2002
Mrs. Mary Hensel 2001-Present
Mrs. Jill Wagenknecht 2001-2016
Mrs. Jean Mutrux 2016-Present