The Junior North American Field Hunter Championship competition that began modestly twelve years ago between a handful of geographically-close Virginia hunts continues to expand in scope. This year’s competition involved juniors from twenty-seven hunts located across six MFHA Districts.
The program is succeeding because it’s purpose rises above just competition. Founders Douglas Wise, MFH, Old Dominion Hounds and Iona Pillion from the Blue Ridge Hunt had a larger dream: bring children to new hunting countries and open their eyes to the fact that these playgrounds don’t just happen to be there for them by chance, but have been nurtured and conserved for the perpetuation of wildlife, open space, and for those who treasure the natural world.
“We want these kids to know what a conservation easement is,” said Marion Chungo, one of the organizers.
Fort Leavenworth Valor ‘13 was crowned Grand Champion Foxhound at both the Southwest Hound Show on April 18, 2015 and the Central States Hound Show on May 2, 2015.
Valor is a fitting name for Fort Leavenworth hounds, tied as the hunt is to that venerable military post in Kansas. Three Fort Leavenworth foxhounds have proudly carried the name, Valor, in the last thirty years!
Southwest Hound Show
Exhibiting hunts at the Southwest Hound Show included Brazos Valley Hounds (TX), Fort Leavenworth Hunt, and Independence Foxhounds (TX). Judges George and Jeanie Thomas, MFHs of the Why Worry Hunt (SC) were impressed by both Valor and the hound show. In a “joint communique” George and Jeanie write, “We like Valor a lot, and he showed the way a champion should. We found him to be a very nice hound with super conformation and correctness. He is a fluid mover and has a lot of power from his lovely hind end. Although he is not a big hound, he made up for it with his drive and verve. We are looking forward to seeing him in Virginia!”
Dakota Slew and Dr. Alex battled for the lead throughout most of the Open Timber race, even jumping the last fence abreast, but at the wire it was Dakota Slew by a length. It was Dakota Slew’s third win in this race under rider Robbie Walsh, thus retiring the Rokeby Bowl for owner Maggie Bryant. Trained by Richard Valentine, Dakota Slew is one of six horses that tied for Leading Timber Horse in Virginia in 2014.
The Valentine-Walsh team scored their second win of the day in the Open Flat Race with Clark Ohrstrom’s Kisser N Run taking the lead from Preachers Pulpit with less than a half-mile to run and winning easily. Kisser N Run was the 2013 Life’s Illusion Filly and Mare champion, and last season's winner of the Atlanta Steeplechase’s Georgia Cup.
What a debt we all owe the late philanthropist Paul Mellon, whose love of horses and horse sports was expressed through the fabulous art collections that he so generously shared with us.
The Eclipse Award-winning breeder saddled legendary Thoroughbreds Sea Hero, Arts and Letters, and Mill Reef, just to name a few. His first British art purchase, in 1936, was a painting of a racehorse, "Pumpkin with a Stable-lad" by George Stubbs, said to be his favorite painting by one of his favorite artists. Pumpkin won sixteen out of his twenty-four races at Newmarket turf in the late 1770s and was described as an excellent runner.
“It was my very first purchase of a painting,” Mellon recalled later, “and could be said to be the impetus toward my later, some might say gluttonous, forays into the sporting art field.”
That Stubbs painting was donated to his alma mater, Yale, but the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts was another lucky recipient of Mellon’s “gluttonous” obsession with sporting art. Mellon’s donations are explored in Country Pursuits: British, American and French Sporting Art from the Mellon Collections in the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts by Malcom Cormack. Cormack was the Paul Mellon Curator at the VMFA in 1991 until his retirement in 2004. He also once served as the Curator of Paintings at the Yale Center of British Art established by Mellon.
The venerable Virginia Foxhound Club—the team that brings you the Virginia Foxhound Show each year—is celebrating its sixtieth anniversary. It seems timely to look back, evaluate the importance of hound shows in the overall scheme of foxhunting, and convince those with a passion for the sport that their membership in the Virginia Foxhound Club, no matter where in North America they hunt the fox or the coyote, is an investment that will benefit all fox hunters and their hunts.
The Virginia Foxhound Show, the largest hound show in the world, brings foxhounds of all types and all strains to the flags for viewing, comparing, and judging. Whether a Master or huntsman is seeking certain bloodlines, or an outcross to introduce hybrid vigor to the gene pool within his kennels, he sees such hounds at Virginia. And he has the opportunity to socialize and chat, in a magnificent setting, about the merits and traits of the canine objects of his desire. With your support, the best matings may continue to be made in Heaven, but they’ll be arranged in Virginia!
We invite readers to fill us in on any moves that we’ve missed. We also invite you to send us a personal profile on any of these huntsmen that we can publish as a feature article. Or, just send us the information, and we’ll write the story. Use the “Contact Us” link that appears at the bottom of every screen to communicate directly with me, and be sure to include your phone number.
What follows is foxhunting’s version of musical chairs.