Fox Hunting Life with Horse and Hound

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North Hills Hunt

northhills

Missouri Valley, Iowa

Website: www.northhillshunt.com


performance trial. mission valleyMission Valley 2018 Performance Trials: Fort Leavenworth Tracker 2010 (#71) was overall High Point foxhound after two days of hunting.  /  Allison Howell photo

The schedule of Foxhound Performance Trials for the 2021/2022 foxhunting season has been released by Trial Chairman Fred Berry, MFH, Sedgefield Hounds (NC). Nine qualifying trials will be run across the country, and the tenth and final trial will crown a Grand Champion and the top ten performance hounds in North America.

"'Pretty is as pretty does' really applies to foxhounds," says Fred. The Brits invented mounted foxhunting and hound show, but they shouldn’t have stopped there.

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central states 19.angela fainStanding with Grand Champion Harvard Goneaway 2018 are (l-r): J. Nick Badgerow, Steward and Show Chair; Judge Graham Buston, huntsman, Blue Ridge Hunt; and Harvard Fox Hounds member Angela Heinz. / Angela Fain photoThe Central States hound Show was held on May 4, 2019 in Stilwell, Kansas, hosted by the Leavenworth Hunt. Hounds from six hunts were shown: Brazos Valley Hounds (TX), Bridlespur Hunt (MO), Fort Leavenworth Hunt (KS), Harvard Fox Hounds (OK), Mission Valley Hunt (KS), and North Hills Hunt (NE). Hounds were judged by Graham Buston, huntsman, Blue Ridge Hunt (VA).

Brazos Valley was the high scoring hunt for the day and was gunning for its third consecutive Grand Championship at Central States, but it was not to be. Grand Champion of Show was Harvard Goneaway 2018, drafted unentered by Hillsboro Hounds (TN) to Harvard and entered last season. Goneaway’s male line is highly prepotent, as we will see, and Goneaway’s story serves as a fine example of how the system is supposed to work: top breeding kennels generously drafting well-bred hounds to bolster other packs around the country.

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central states18.playboy16.howard gwinGrand Champion Brazos Valley Playboy 2016 is shown by Sandy Dixon, MFH. Standing are (l-r) Johna Sewell, Brazos Valley; Nick Badgerow, Show Chairman; Judge John Tabachka. /   Howard Gwin photoBrazos Valley Playboy 2016, an American foxhound, was crowned Grand Champion of the Central States Hound Show in Stilwell Kansas, on May 12, 2018.

Playboy was bred much like European royalty—all in the family—but even more so. Breeders know that the results of inbreeding can be successful beyond one’s wildest dreams. Or a nightmare.

“People are going to wonder, ‘What was she thinking?’” Sandy Dixon, MFH of the Brazos Valley Hounds (TX), readily admitted last year when Playboy’s littermate, Precious, was judged Grand Champion of the Southwest Hound Show. Just as riders don’t plan for the occasional involuntary dismount, so Dixon didn’t plan on this involuntary mount.

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Hark Forward I"Don’t like hobbles and I can’t stand fences; Don’t fence me in!" A song that could have been written in the tallgrass prairie of Kansas. / Julie Honsinger photo

The MFHA Hark Forward Performance Trial Series took participants to the prairies of middle America, a unique experience. I love the traditional hunt countries on the East Coast with large forests and big open fields, and I also love the totally different experiences of hunting in land where it is so wide open you can literally see for miles in every direction. Here, in the wide open expanse of the Kansas prairie, field members get to see most all of the hound work.  

Mission Valley Hunt (KS) hosted this Foxhound Performance Trial over the weekend of March 2–4, 2018. Five hunts from the Midwest competed. In addition to Mission Valley, hounds were entered from Bridlespur Hunt (MO), Fort Leavenworth Hunt (KS), Mill Creek Hunt (IL), and North Hills Hunt (NE). Guest huntsman was Angela Murray, MFH, Red Rock Hounds (NV).

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matthew cook2.cathy summers“My first knowledge of foxes began with hating them,” said Matthew Cook with a chuckle. "Working as a gamekeeper they were a pest.” / Cathy Summers photo“New” is hardly the word to use when writing about the sport of foxhunting in general, and even harder to use with a club as dedicated to tradition as central Virginia’s Farmington Hunt Club. Change is always a challenge! But our new huntsman Matthew Cook has been changing things all around since he arrived in Free Union three years ago—raising a new level of hunting sport with a growing list of firsts.

Cook entered Farmington hounds in the Virginia Hound Show in May, 2014 for the first time; he took a carefully picked few hounds to meet prospective foxhunting juniors at the local 4H club last spring, and he accompanied his daughter Pippa along with a group of Farmington juniors to compete for the first time ever at the finals of the Junior North American Field hunting championship in Lexington, Kentucky just last October. Most recently, he prepared Farmington hounds to compete in a foxhound performance trial at the Belle Meade Hunt in Thomson, Georgia in January 2017.

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