Sandoval Signpost


An independent monthly newspaper serving the community since 1988

Dave Harper

If you lose or find an animal in Placitas area, call the Animal Hotline at 867-6135. The Hotline is a nonprofit service run by Dave and January Harper to help reunite lost and found pets. Placing a Lost or Found in the Animal Hotline is a free service courtesy of the Signpost—we can sometimes even include a photo. Call Dave and January at 867-6135 or 263-2266 and leave a detailed message, or email the Animal Hotline at: (but call, too).

Happy New Year from the Animal Hotline!

We have received a report of a "huge wild cat" near the mailboxes on Placitas Trails Road. A friendly reminder: there are more wild animals in Placitas than most people realize. We have reports of bobcats, bears, coyotes, mountain lions, and foxes. Be on the lookout for these wild creatures that share our beautiful community.

Have a blessed new year full of love, light, and peace.

                                                —January and Dave Harper


Dog: Sixteen-year-old male Dalmatian with a red collar and tags containing owner phone number. He is mostly deaf and elderly. Lost on November 23 from Ranchos de Placitas subdivision. #4023

Dog: Male German Shepherd /Boxer mix, tan with color on his face. "Ragnar" is nine months old, weighs approximately twenty-five pounds and has a Raider collar and a microchip. Lost on December 9 from Camino Los Altos in the Village of Placitas. #4024


Animal News


Lalo’s pet prints:

Lalo loves to receive your pet and animal photos to print in the Signpost.
Email them to “Lalo” at:
Or mail prints to: Signpost, P. O. Box 889 Placitas, NM 87043

In the waning days of fall an American robin knocks back a juniper berry plucked from a Placitas tree. Large flocks of robins were seen flitting around the area taking advantage of the natural buffet and unseasonably warm weather. —Bill Diven

Lalo: I noticed this Western Screech Owl perched in my back patio roofing one Saturday morning. He stayed for three hours and let me walk right up to him....way back off of Tecolote Road—which means “owl.” —Mark Sherkus

Lalo: Fox in Placitas! My first sighting. I had no idea that there were any around.   —Todd Rennecker

Huntsmen, horses, and hounds
Photos credit: —John Knight

Fox hunt tradition continues in Sandoval County

—Ty Belknap and John Knight

Juan Tomas Hounds met in the cold, windy shadow of a ridgeline just west of San Ysidro at about 8:30 on the morning of December 4. The fox hounds had already arrived, having started their three-hour journey from the kennels in Magdalena at 5:00 a.m. Men and women riders, dressed in the traditional red or black jackets, helmets, and other fox-hunting garb, were tacking up their fine horses while longtime member Ezra Estes was taking his turn as host and had already built a campfire in an old washing machine tub and was setting out hot cowboy coffee as well as port and sherry for the “stirrup cup” of liquid courage. We shivering Signpost reporters were welcomed to share.

Twice a week during the months of October through March, the members of Juan Tomás Hounds meet to revel in the beautiful Southwest and to enjoy the fellowship of its members, the footsteps of their horses, and the mastery of the huntsman and his hounds in New Mexico's version of the ancient tradition of the fox hunt.

The use of scent hounds to track prey dates back to Assyrian, Babylonian, and ancient Egyptian times. The earliest known attempt to hunt a fox with hounds was in Norfolk, England, in 1534, where farmers began chasing foxes down with their dogs to keep them out of the henhouse. In the United States, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson both kept packs of fox hounds before and after the American Revolutionary War.

Consider Saint Hubert of Liège, the patron of archers, dogs, forest workers, hunting, huntsmen, and mathematicians. The memory of huntsmen and hounds might be locked in our DNA—the thrill of the chase remains. Only here in New Mexico, the fox has been replaced by the wily coyote. The hounds sniff for a coyote that might happen to be living in the area. (The huntsmen don’t bring one along.)

Juan Tomas Hounds was formed in 1970 by a group of sporting individuals who were interested in starting a traditional foxhunt in New Mexico. The original hunt country was centered around the small Manzano mountain village of Juan Tomas, but now there is access to many public and private locations in and around Albuquerque and Santa Fe.

Master of the Hounds, Adren Nance, blew his horn promptly at 9:15 a.m. This first horn is only a warning for the commencement of the hunt at 9:30 a.m. At this time, the trailer gate is opened, but the well-trained hounds wait for the horn to sound again before jumping out. We followed on foot as the hunt started down the dirt road. It was quite a sight seeing the huntsmen, horses, and hounds riding through the New Mexico landscape as opposed to the green hedgerows in England (where the sport is now illegal).

Our host Ezra said that his heart was pounding in anticipation, even though he had to skip this hunt as it was his turn to prepare the tailgate breakfast. He told us how his horse would often become impossible to rein in when he galloped after the baying dogs on scent, jumping across fences and arroyos in hot pursuit. We ran back to my truck and four-wheeled our way through Querencia Arroyo and up onto a distant mesa to catch a view of the hunt, but they had vanished into the hills.

It’s a blood sport, but according to Ezra, coyotes are faster than hounds, so more often than not the hunt ends without catching any of their targeted prey. The huntsmen don’t talk very much about dogs killing coyotes. That seems to be of little concern to Juan Tomas members as they are there for the camaraderie and to enjoy the countryside—the chase more than the kill.

If you want to know more, visit

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