Two days of hard hunting on November 6 and 7, 2018 behind a pack of fifty-four foxhounds—each of which qualified for this championship event by placing among the top ten of one or more of the performance trials over the past year—concluded the MFHA Hark Forward! Performance Trial Season. The season of performance trials, field hunter trials, and joint meets which began last year were conceived by MFHA president Tony Leahy and Master Epp Wilson, Belle Meade Hunt (GA), to reprise, during Leahy’s tenure as president, the spirit of the MFHA Centennial celebrations ten years earlier.
The Performance Trial Championship event was matured, expanded, organized, and staged to perfection by the Masters of the Midland Fox Hounds (GA) in their Fitzpatrick, Alabama hunting country. More than two hundred people representing more than forty hunts participated. Foxhounds from twenty-four hunts competed. Ashley Hubbard, professional huntsman at the Green Spring Valley Hounds (MD), served as trial huntsman for this all-star pack.
Having been a member of many fields in many hunting countries, the huntsman has always been my hero. From the time we mount up and for the few hours that follow, it is the huntsman who is most directly responsible for our day’s sport.
One might well argue that the hounds have something to do with it, and this I grant. But the pack is the product of the huntsman, and, since the level of sport depends on how hounds perform in the field as a pack, it all comes back to the huntsman.
Here’s our annual report on the recent moves of huntsmen Neil Amatt, Martyn Blackmore, Tony Gammell, and Sam Clifton.
The twelfth Southern Hound Show, hosted annually by the Live Oak Hounds (FL), will be remembered for the rain and the Hillsboro Hounds (TN) entries that swept four of the five Championship classes.
Hillsboro Walnut 2017 was judged Grand Champion of Show and Champion Bi*ch. Hillsboro hounds also won the Champion Unentered and Champion Two-Couple classes. Live Oak Assault was Champion Dog Hound and Reserve Champion of Show. “For Hillsboro to win all but one of the championships is a major accomplishment for Master Orrin Ingram and Huntsman Johnny Gray,” said Daphne Wood, MFH, Live Oak Hounds.
On Saturday, March 17, 2018, the Bear Creek Hounds will host a Puppy Show at Bear Creek Farm in Moreland, Georgia. The Saint Patrick’s Day theme will be legitimized by the presence of Judge Chris Ryan, MFH of the Scarteen Hunt, Knocklong, Ireland. Also judging the puppies will be Marion Thorne, MFH and huntsman, Genesee Valley Hunt (NY).
The puppy show is open to all, and will commence at 1:30 pm following a brunch and hat contest at noon ($20.00 per person). A St. Patrick’s Day party follows at the Bear Creek Pavilion with awards, dinner, live music, and dancing ($60.00 per person). Spectators are welcome. A block of motel rooms convenient to Bear Creek Farm has been reserved.
The Bear Creek Puppy Show is part of the MFHA Hark Forward initiative this season. Participants will be asked to contribute to the renovation of the new MFHA National Headquarters in Middleburg, Virginia.
Junior foxhunters, their horses, parents, and friends traveled from thirteen states to Thomson, Georgia, where the Belle Meade Hunt hosted the finals of the fifteenth annual Junior North American Field Hunter Championships on November 11-13, 2017.
Throughout the course of the informal season, hunts around the country held qualifying meets from which the young finalists were chosen by mounted judges. Of the 216 juniors who qualified to compete in the finals, fifty-six young riders from eighteen North American hunts—more than twenty-five percent of those qualified—traveled to Belle Mead to hunt, compete, see old friends, and make a pile of new friends. And did they have a wonderful time! It was truly a pleasure to see.