It’s that time of the off-season to check up on huntsmen who are moving or retiring and those hunts acquiring or seeking huntsmen. Here’s what we know.
Live Oak Hounds (FL)
British-born Guy Allman has returned to the States from England to hunt the well-bred pack of Modern English and Crossbred foxhounds at Live Oak in north Florida. Allman has been in hunt service for thirty-seven seasons, all but three years of that time in England.
The first foxhound show in North America in three years, and Hillsboro Wagtail ’20 has good reason to wag her tail...er...stern!
The fourteenth annual Southern Hound Show was memorable for several reasons. Nigel Peel, Ex-MFH, North Cotswold Foxhounds (UK), was ill and unable to come and join Co-Judge Marion Thorne, MFH, Genesee Valley Hunt (NY) and Apprentice-Judge Steven Thomas, MFH, Fort Leavenworth Hunt (KS). Ann Hughston, MBH, Ripshin Bassets (GA), who has judged foxhounds at Carolina, Virginia, the Canadian Hound Show, and Bassets at Peterborough, was a capable stand-in.
The mood was particularly festive as this was the first hound show in three years to be held in North America thanks to the Corona Virus. Sadly, Midland Fox Hounds (GA) had kennel cough and was unable to bring hounds, but eight packs showed hounds: Belle Meade Hunt (GA), Fox River Valley Hunt (IL), Goodwin Hounds (NC), Hillsboro Hounds (TN), Iroquois Hunt (KY), Live Oak Hounds (FL), Mooreland Hunt (AL), and Palm Beach Hounds (FL). Hounds competed under blue skies, but with chilly temperatures in the forties and low fifties and relentless high wind that made the seated lunch for over 150 people look like a food fight, with fried chicken, plates, napkins, and utensils flying through the air, all as the tent was trying to collapse!
The Masters of Foxhounds Association of North America (MFHA) has engaged EQ Media to manage and execute the association’s communications. Based in Wellington, Florida, EQ Media describes itself as a “full service media agency with an equestrian focus.”
“After completing the most recent strategic planning session, the board recognized even more fully the importance of committing to a broader, more comprehensive communications strategy,” said MFHA President Leslie Rhett Crosby (MFH of the Mooreland Hunt in Alabama). “EQ Media is the perfect partner to guide and move MFHA into the future.”
EQ Media will promote MFHA’s activities, trumpet the association’s impressive but little-known conservation efforts, and its contributions to canine health research through its decade-long research project on tick-borne illnesses at the University of Iowa. Plans are also underway for a rebranding process, a new website, a retooled Covertside magazine, new affiliations and partnerships, and more robust communications.
“Our team is ready to dig in and tell the MFHA story,” said Carrie Wirth, the marketing and communications veteran who founded EQ Media in 2016.
The MFHA, established in 1907, is the governing body of organized mounted foxhunting in the U.S. and Canada. It has established requirements for hunt clubs and standards of sportsmanship necessary for registration and recognition under its jurisdiction. And it remains responsible for auditing member hunts’ adherence to the standards.
The MFHA registers the hunting territories for all member hunts. In the event of conflict between hunts, the association attempts to provide mediation through its regional directors.
One of the MFHA’s most vital responsibilities is the meticulous registration of all foxhounds in all member hunts and publication of a stud book and foxhound pedigrees—an absolute requirement for responsible maintenance and improvement of the breed.
The not-for-profit MFHA maintains two foundations. Overall is the MFHA Foundation, providing financial support for several important programs as well as funds for the Hunt Staff Benefit Foundation. The MFHA Foundation supports the MFHA’s Professional Development Program, promotes conservation of open space and habitat, educates the public about foxhunting, and partners with the University of Iowa in canine tick-born disease research by providing data for statistical analysis. The Hunt Staff Benefit Foundation provides both short- and long-term monetary assistance to retired or injured professional huntsmen in need.
Posted February 23, 2021
Two 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.
Junior foxhunters, their horses, parents, and friends traveled from thirteen states to Thomson, Georgia, where the Belle Meade Hunt hosted the finals of the fifteenth annual Junior North American Field Hunter Championships on November 11-13, 2017.
Throughout the course of the informal season, hunts around the country held qualifying meets from which the young finalists were chosen by mounted judges. Of the 216 juniors who qualified to compete in the finals, fifty-six young riders from eighteen North American hunts—more than twenty-five percent of those qualified—traveled to Belle Mead to hunt, compete, see old friends, and make a pile of new friends. And did they have a wonderful time! It was truly a pleasure to see.