Fox Hunting Life with Horse and Hound

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Massbach Hounds

massbach

Elizabeth, Illinois

Website: www.ch-frvh.com


ec.strachan wilson.bardAlastair Strachan, MFH, hunting hounds this day, invites Epp Wilson to accompany him.  /  Barbara Smith photo

Who do you call twelve hours in advance for overnight accommodations for ten horses and five people when original plans fall through? In this case we were blessed to land on the doorstep of Christine Gracey, MFH of the Eglinton and Caledon Hounds (ON). Completely nonplused at the last-minute plans, Christy and Master Alastair Strachan made arrangements for our caravan of horses and people. We pulled into Sleepy Fox Farm, the lovely hunter barn of Al Borrett and daughter Jennifer at midnight, after a fifteen-hour drive from Illinois.

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tony leahy, mfhMFHA President Tony Leahy and the Massbach Hounds kick off this season's Foxhound Performance Trial tour.MFHA President Tony Leahy and the Fox River Valley/Massbach Hounds hosted the kick-off Performance Trial on the Hark Forward Tour in their western Illinois hunting country on September 16 and 17, 2017.

By the time it was over, everyone took home a renewed appreciation for the hard work and knowhow it takes to make and maintain a good hunting pack of foxhounds. Certainly the fact that littermates brought up by different hunts and trained by different staffs, rose like cream to the top of the scoring is convincing proof that breeding matters! Next stop on the tour is Millbrook, New York.

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carolinas15.david traxlerGrand Champion Hillsboro Graphic '14 with professional whipper-in Leilani Hrisko. Judges (l-r) are MFHs Tony Leahy and Dr. Jack Van Nagell / David Traxler photoHillsboro Graphic '14 was judged Grand Champion of Show at the thirty-ninth annual Carolinas Hound Show held at the Springdale Race Course in Camden, South Carolina on May 8 and 9, 2015.

Whelped to royal bloodlines—American on the sire’s side and English on the dam’s side—it should have been no surprise to see Graphic garner top honors. Her sire is Hillsboro Jethro '08, son of the magnificent Potomac Jefferson '05, Grand Champion Foxhound at Virginia in the year of the MFHA Centennial celebration, 2007.

On the dam’s side, Graphic goes back in tail female to North Cotswold Grapefruit '95, a Peterborough Champion and dam of several influential foxhounds in North America including Iroquois Grundy '98, Master Jerry Miller’s all-time favorite foxhound, and Mid-Devon Grocer '00, sire of Virginia and Bryn Mawr champion hounds from Blue Ridge.

Foxhounds from fourteen hunts and five states trod the flags at Carolinas: Aiken, Camden, DeLa Brooke, Green Creek, Hillsboro, Keswick, Lowcountry, Moore County, Red Mountain, Sedgefield, Tennessee Valley, Tryon, Whiskey Road, and Why Worry.

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cowboy hunt1Kail Mantle from Montana: just like riding a bronc  /  Val Westover photo

Last year, while hunting with the Red Rock Hounds (NV), I met Renee and Kail Mantle from Big Sky Hounds in Three Forks, Montana. Kail gave us a bucking horse lesson one day before hunting. This Montana cowboy, who hunts in chaps and cowboy hat, had sat calmly to his horse bucking crazily above the sagebrush and had seriously impressed me.

When a group of these Western foxhunters invited me to accompany them to Ireland this year, I jumped at the chance. These were fun people---more than a little crazy, and I wondered if anyone had warned the Irish!

I also wondered if my companions knew what they were getting into. I had hunted the big Irish walls and hedges in 2000, and I came home with newfound respect for anyone who hunts regularly in Ireland. It is challenging country, and their version of foxhunting is an excuse to run and jump really big fences.

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