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.
The Blue Mountain Pony Club in Maryland won the seventh annual Live Oak Hounds USPC Foxhunting Challenge Award for 2013. The Challenge Award is made possible through the generous support of Mr. and Mrs. C. Martin Wood III, Joint-Masters of the Live Oak Hounds in Monticello, Florida and Past Presidents of the MFHA.
The Award is designed to encourage Pony Club members who do not regularly hunt to try the sport and to reward members who hunt on a regular basis to act as mentors to the less-experienced Pony Club members. Ten thousand dollars in awards are distributed each year among the top six Pony Clubs who introduce the greatest number of active Pony Club members to the sport of foxhunting. The United States Pony Club was established by foxhunters, and the two organizations share a close bond.
The 2013 Challenge winners are:
Blue Mountain Pony Club in Maryland. Blue Mountain Pony Club members hunted with Blue Mountain Hunt (PA).
Cedar Knob Pony Club in Tennessee. Cedar Knob Pony Club members hunted with Mooreland Hunt, Longreen Foxhounds, Shawnee Hounds, and Full Cry Hounds.
Old Dominion Hounds Pony Club in Virginia. Old Dominion Pony Club members hunted with Old Dominion Hounds.
Elkridge-Harford Pony Club in Maryland. Elkridge-Harford Pony Club members hunted with Elkridge-Harford Hunt.
Lowcountry Pony Club in South Carolina. Lowcountry Pony Club members hunted with Lowcountry Hunt.
Live Oak Hounds Pony Club in Florida. Live Oak Hounds Pony Club members hunted with Live Oak Hounds.
The Shawnee Hounds (IL) Mannings fixture was challenging to hunt this day—substantial ditches, wide open fields that were muddy and quickly sapped the horses' strength, and large wheat fields that had to be circumnavigated to stay in the farmers' good graces. This made it difficult for the whippers-in as well as those who had to stay further out in order to not lose the pack on a big run. The large woods that we normally would avoid due to being leased by deer hunters were open now that deer season was over.
This hunt was further challenged by too much of a good thing—lots of coyotes! They were everywhere, and I doubt I can remember all the views of different coyotes seen and by whom.