Fox Hunting Life with Horse and Hound

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Essex Fox Hounds

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Somerset, Hunterdon and Morris counties in north central New Jersey

Website: www.essexfoxhounds.org


 abh.magnumOverall high scoring foxhound, Elkridge-Harford Magnum, #37, tunes in to trial huntsman Adam Townsend before moving off.  /  Karen Kandra photo

Two Crossbred foxhounds from the Elkridge-Harford Hunt (MD) finished one-two in the overall top ten scores after two days of hunting at the Andrews Bridge Foxhound Performance Trials. With that strong finish, Elkridge-Harford was the high scorer of all the competing hunts as well. The trials were hosted by Andrews Bridge in Kirkwood, Pennsylvania, on September 23 and 24, 2021.

The six competing hunts were Andrews Bridge Foxhounds (PA), Elkridge-Harford Hunt (MD), Essex Fox Hounds (NJ), Last Chance Hounds, Red Oak Foxhounds (VA), and Wicomico Hunt (MD). This was the second of nine qualifying trials scheduled around the country this season.

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RoseTree-Blue Mountain prevails with all five entries finishing among the top-ten overall scoring hounds, including Bridle 2015, the winner.


Through an early morning mist, foxhounds are in full cry after the coyote. This excellent video was filmed on the second day of the Millboo Hunt Foxhound Performance Trials.  /   Video by Marion Latta de Vogel

The first of ten foxhound performance trials scheduled across North America this season is history. Millbrook Hunt (NY) hosted the 2021/2022 opener on September 8 and 9, 2021. Participants enjoyed superb weather, gorgeous country, exciting sport, and Millbrook’s unparalleled hospitality.

The first nine trials are qualifiers for the tenth and final Grand Championship Trials. That final showdown is scheduled for March 26 and 27, 2022, in Hoffman, North Carolina, where a national champion and the top ten foxhounds countrywide will be recognized.

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After the close of last season, professional whipper-in Erin McKenney was tapped to take over the horn at the Millbrook Hunt (NY). What’s it like to be a first-year huntsman following in the boot prints of a retiring, respected, experienced huntsman and long-time hound breeder like Donald Philhower? Butterflies, sure, but what goes through the mind of a huntsman responsible for giving sport every hunting day? Erin gives us a taste.

erin mckenney nov.lindsay baldwinLindsay Baldwin photo

November 5, 2020, 9-1/2 couple
It was a warm, bluebird sort of day with a dry wind which didn’t bode too well for scenting conditions. I took a smaller pack since it is a tight fixture.

I went with idea of taking older, slower hounds, with some younger ones for an educational day. I’m not convinced when young hounds are flying on a coyote that they’re learning a ton, except to keep up. The seasoned hounds may not be so quick under this day’s conditions, and the younger ones should have a chance to really get their noses down and learn.

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tony leahyMFHA President Tony Leahy has prudently announced the cancellation of several popular spring events due to the world-wide Covid-19 pandemic.

Canceled are the Virginia Foxhound Show; the National Horn Blowing Championships; the Ian Milne Huntsman’s Award presentation; the Professional Development Program graduation ceremony for the class of 2019/2020; and the ceremony for those huntsmen selected to be inducted into the Huntsmen's Room at the Museum of Hounds and Hunting this year—all previously scheduled over the Memorial Day weekend. 

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essex masters day1Pony stick racing over hurdles  /  Priscilla K. Miller photo

The Master’s Chase is a fun-filled annual event that hunts can put on as a fund raiser for a worthy cause and reach out to their community of non-riders as well. Billed as “family fun for horse and non-horse people alike,” Essex Fox Hounds Master’s Chase will feature amateur racing for field hunters and ponies, adults and children, tailgating, and a group of local vendors at Natirar Park, 2 Main Street, in Peapack, New Jersey on Saturday, October 5, starting at noon. The day is sandwiched between a weekend of events with a Friday night party and a Sunday hunt.

It all traces back to the Farmer’s Day Races of the early twentieth century in which hunt clubs invited farmers in their hunting countries to a picnic and day at the races. For those hunts that do not hold annual point-to-points or sanctioned steeplechase races, it’s a fine way to keep racing alive and give everyone a taste of the excitement. The Essex Fox Hounds donate all proceeds to the non-profit Countryside Alliance of Somerset Hills for the preservation of farmlands.

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