Fox Hunting Life with Horse and Hound

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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.

Southern Hound Show 2019

LOHABLEHuntsman Spencer Allen shows Grand Champion Foxhound of Show, Live Oak Able 2016. Mr. and Mrs. Michael Ledyard present trophy to  Masters Daphne Wood and C. Martin Wood III.  /  Wendy Butler photo

Mr. C. Martin Wood III, MFH, Live Oak Hounds (FL) has been line breeding his pack as he was taught by his late mentors, Captain Ronnie Wallace, MFH, and before that, Ben Hardaway, MFH. He absorbed the wisdom of both superb breeders, and, of course, brought some of his own wisdom to the kennels as well.

We often hear the familiar and simplistic saw, ‘breed the best to the best, and hope for the best.’ That may work for some when first starting a pack, but there is another vital step that follows. Which of those ‘best’ are passing on their good traits, and which aren’t? The long-running male and female breeding lines in the successful packs are those lines started by superior hounds, the progeny of which continue to pass on their excellent genes generation after generation. Not all the ‘best’ hounds—or even racehorses—do.

'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.