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Fox Hounds

Performance Trial Championships a Huge Success at Midland

ashley hubbardKgp photoTrial Huntsman Ashley Hubbard  /  Kgp PhotographyTwo 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.

'Ware Flitters!

Just had to republish Andy's story as the cubhunting season draws to a close!

andy bozdan3Huntsman Andy Bozdan at the Tennessee Valley Hunt

When I was learning to whip-in I would watch the huntsman and the way he effortlessly walked his pack out in the spring and summer. This particular spring the swallows had arrived early and would flit low across the fields in front of hounds. To my surprise he let his hounds chase them.

Keen to learn, I asked why he did not want me to turn hounds back. He said that this was their time off, and he wanted them to relax and unwind.

A Level Pack or a Team of Specialists?

The sheer beauty of a level pack of foxhounds is indisputable. There is a uniformity of appearance and traits, and such a pack tends to run well together. But isn't there another option?

Why not a pack consisting of foxhounds of various types, welcoming the unique attributes of each hound type? Breeders know that no single type offers all the best attributes we want in a pack; hence the English-American Crossbred. But within those two categories there are still more individual types with more concentrated attributes that could allow each type to contribute at the appropriate stage of any hunt just when needed.

The Tom Smith Cast

tom smith cast2Hounds speak confidently in covert; the whipper-in on the far side lifts his cap to the sky; and hounds burst into the open in full cry.

Suddenly all of life is in motion. Your head fills with the sights and sounds of the chase—the cry of hounds, the huntsman’s horn, the thud of hooves, the wind in your ears. Bliss. Then it all goes quiet.

The pack fractures, hounds searching for the lost line. The huntsman gives them a chance to recover it on their own. He doesn’t want the line to go cold, nor does he wants hounds to lift their heads and look to him for help every time they are at fault. Hounds make their own swing. The huntsman weighs all the factors—wind, scenting conditions, time passing, landscape, how the foxes have run here in the past. He decides to make a cast.