Lifelong foxhunter Gary Wenzel of Poplar Springs died on July 7. He was 67. Gary was an old-school local horseman who discovered foxhunting through the legendary stables of the Aitcheson family (on the aptly named Riding Stable Road) and their Iron Bridge Hounds. Wenzel was Laurel High School graduate who went on to earn a degree from the University of Maryland, College Park, and from there held a career in Beltsville at the United States Department of Agriculture’s Animal Research Center. Wenzel retired in 2005.
Wenzel was a freshman at UMD when he met his best friend and eventual wife Karen Kandra (Equiery photographer), who was also a freshman at the college. They met in the hunt field on a junior day in 1969 while he was an Iron Bridge member and she was a Goshen Hounds member. The couple purchased a farm together in Poplar Springs in the late 80s, and once it was all set up and organized, the two friends were married in 1989. And as true foxhunters do, they scheduled their wedding around the fixture card.
Wenzel organized his entire life around his first true passion, foxhunting. He carefully calibrated his work schedule so that he could take one day off each week during the hunting season. Wenzel had his own small private pack for a while. Back in the 1970s, he assembled a nice collection of good hunting older hounds drafted from packs such as Potomac, Deep Run and Blue Ridge. He was able to kennel them at Dr. James Smith’s Maiden’s Fancy Farm, and thus they were dubbed Maiden’s Fancy Hounds. That pack was dispersed when territory disappeared.
In 1978, Wenzel began whipping-in with Goshen with Pat McDowell and eventual masters Rick Jones and Brian Pickett. “Gary was like a brother to me,” explained McDowell. “Those years whipping-in at Goshen were some of the happiest times for Gary. The four of us really did work as a team.” After huntsman Nick Hartung retired, the Wenzels followed the Bellwood Hunt, a private pack owned by friends Ralph and Barbara Miller in Pennsylvania.
Wenzel’s hunting career circled back to Iron Bridge, which had since merged with Howard County Hounds. With HCIBH, Wenzel was able to whip-in to another like-minded local horseman and good friend, huntsman Allen Forney. “He was so proud to whip-in to Allen,” says Karen, “those were some of the happiest hunting years of his life.” After Forney retired as huntsman, Wenzel moved on to the Potomac Hunt Club and Genesee Valley in New York.