Two weeks, 3,700 miles, eight hunting days, six different hunts, too many friends to count, one hellova good time....
What do you do when you are stuck in the cold winter weather of Northern Illinois and have not been hunting for two months? A road trip! Lucky for me, and all of us, foxhunting is a small but welcoming world. While there are a variety of ways to hunt, we all welcome fellow fox hunters to join us, and, as Jorrocks said, "Tell me a man's a fox-hunter, and I loves him at once."
More than six hundred foxhounds from thirty-seven hunts were exhibited at the Virginia Foxhound Show at Morven Park on Sunday, May 26, 2019, over the Labor Day Weekend. Hunts from thirteen states up and down the Eastern Seaboard and from as far away as Texas brought foxhounds to stand up against the finest examples of their breeds in North America. It is the largest foxhound show in the world.
In the always exciting final class of the show, four foxhound Champions—American, English, Crossbred, and Penn-Marydel—presented themselves to be judged for this year’s Grand Championship Class. It’s always a difficult class to judge because each entry has already been winnowed down throughout the day’s classes and has been chosen as the best specimen of its type by the judges in each ring. Each hound is deserving, and the attention and hopes of all spectators, though friendly, are ratcheted to a new level.
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 MFHA’s Ian Milne Award is a serious tribute to accomplished huntsmen across North America. It is awarded periodically to a huntsman of sound character who has made outstanding contributions to the sport of foxhunting. Recipients of the Ian Milne Award have learned the hard lessons of the field and the kennels as well as in life, and they have learned to do it right.
This year, that honoree is Donald Philhower, huntsman for the Millbrook Hounds in New York State. Consider the namesake whom the award personifies.
Ian Milne was respected and liked by all. His hunt service began in England and continued until his last breath here in North America. He was a genuine friend and a generous mentor to aspiring and established huntsmen. He was a gentleman, honest as the day is long, and he lived for hounds and hunting.
At this year’s Virginia Foxhound Show, the Hillsboro Hounds (TN) matched a bit of history made back in 2010 by the Live Oak Hounds (FL) in that most exciting final class of the day, Grand Champion of Show. The show was held at Morven Park on May 27, 2018
As usual, four hounds were qualified for the Grand Champion class—the American, Crossbred, English, and Penn-Marydel Champions. Hillsboro had two hounds in the ring, having won both the English and the Crossbred Championships. When the class ended, Hillsboro Walnut 2017 was Grand Champion of Show, and Hillsboro Starlight 2017 was Reserve Grand Champion. It only happened once before, and there have been seventy-one Virginia Foxhound Shows.