David Twiggs was officially confirmed as the MFHA’s new Executive Director.Tony Leahy, MFH of the Fox River Valley Hunt (IL), was elected to a three-year term as President of the Masters of Foxhounds Association at the Annual Meeting held on Friday, January 27, 2017 in New York. Leslie Rhett Crosby, MFH, Mooreland Hunt (AL) was elected First Vice President and Penny Denegre, MFH, Middleburg Hunt (VA) was elected Second Vice President. Also,
Retiring Executive Director Dennis Foster will remain at the office for another two months to complete David’s training. Upon his official retirement, Dennis will continue to assist the MFHA in animal rights and other areas, on a consulting basis.
I had the distinct honor of addressing the Annual Meeting crowd, the largest crowd I have ever seen, to relate how special David and his family are, and to explain President Leahy’s vision for an upcoming season of celebration. It was literally standing room only.
The average age of active foxhunters continues to rise. Where are the youngsters? we ask. Pointing to all the “usual suspects”—risk aversion, social media addiction (living vicariously rather than actively), animal rights activism—is...well...pointless. Social change continues to be part of mankind’s evolutionary process. What can we do pro-actively? is more to the point.
The MFHA has periodically urged hunts to reach out to nearby Pony Clubs, and many of these efforts have been successful. The Live Oak Challenge sponsored by MFHs Marty and Daphne Wood has introduced numerous young riders to foxhunting by offering financial incentives to the winning Pony Clubs. The Guide to Establishing a Foxhunting Camp written by Joyce Fendley, MFH provides a cookbook approach to running a summer day camp for any hunt wishing to reach out to children. (The booklet is available from the MFHA.)
Hunts can do these things, but there is something we as ordinary members of the field can do. We can adopt-a-kid.
"Would you like to ride up with me?" asked George Thomas, MFH and huntsman of the Why Worry Hounds. Thomas is a direct descendant of the Bywaters family of Virginia—renowned foxhound breeders of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries—and he hunts a pack of Crossbred hounds, most of which carry the old Bywaters bloodlines. The meet was at Basset Hill in Aiken, South Carolina, home of Ward and Mary Lou Welsh. I was being offered a chance to watch a lovely pack of hounds work their country.