with Horse and Hound

Hark Forward! An Exciting Season Is Ahead

tony leahyMFHA President Tony Leahy, MFHIt was ten years ago, but MFHA President Tony Leahy yearns to recapture the fun and enthusiasm of the 2007 MFHA Centennial Season. We had Regional Joint Meets, Foxhound Performance Trials, and Field Hunter Trials all across North America, and Tony wants to do it again! Accordingly, the upcoming 2017/2018 season has been designated a season to Hark Forward!

All events are accompanied by dinners, parties, and the company of sporting cousins from all across the country. No one goes home hungry or thirsty! The MFHA is maintaining an up-to-date schedule of events on their website. Click for planning your own participation. Take note of the dates and geography. If you join the caravans for all or part of any of the event tours, you’ll find hunt clubs along the route that have scheduled Friendship Meets and more hospitality to break up your long drives.

epp wilson portrait2.gianniniFoxhound Performance Trial Chairman Epp Wilson, MFH  /  Lauren Giannini photoFoxhound Performance Trials
Hound Trial Chairman Epp Wilson, MFH, of Belle Meade Hunt (GA) has organized twelve or more hound trials across the country, including one specifically for drag packs. The sport for field members during hound trials is usually excellent because competing hounds selected by their huntsmen and Masters to represent them in competition are the cream of their respective packs. Hounds are judged over two days of hunting. The top scoring foxhounds are the ones that prove their working ability against their competitors. For Masters or huntsmen seeking breeding stock or outcrosses for their own breeding program, the foxhound performance trial is the only venue we have that actually ranks the working abilities of individual foxhounds.

The Massbach and Fox River Valley Hound Trials will kick off the Hark Forward season in Tony Leahy’s western Illinois hunting country from September 15–17, the third weekend of the month. Entries and reservations are now being taken for competitors and cappers. Forms are available, or click for online reservations information and sign up. Reservations for Tony’s event must be received by Saturday, August 18, but don’t wait. They may well be filled up before the closing date.

On the following September weekend, the Millbrook Hunt (NY) Hound Trials follow hot on the heels of the Massbach–Fox River Valley event. In October, the Moore County Hounds (NC) and the Bull Run/Rappahannock Hunts (VA) hound trials will be held. Hillsboro Hunt (TN) holds their trials as December turns to January. The Aiken Hounds (SC) hosts a trial for drag hounds in the Belle Meade Hunt (GA) country in January plus  live trials at Belle Meade the following weekend. Tejon Hounds (CA) hound trials are in February. Wicomico Hunt (MD) is a probable host for trials in March, followed by Mission Valley Hunt (KS) and Sedgefield Hunt (NC) that same month. Arapahoe Hunt will host the final hound trials of the tour in April.

Epp Wilson has also organized a Friendship Tour so that travelers caravanning from one hound trial to the next will have sporting and hospitality breaks during the sometimes long drives in between trial venues.

Hunts on the Friendship Tour include Toronto and North York (ON), Genesee Valley (NY), Golden’s Bridge (NY), and Mr. Stewart’s Cheshire Foxhounds (PA), all in September. Hunt with Belle Meade (GA) in January, and in March, don’t miss the day with the Middleburg Hunt (VA) at Huntland, site of the magnificent home, kennels, and stables built by Joseph B. Thomas early in the twentieth century. Also in March, on the western swing, hunt with Juan Thomas (NM), Grand Canyon (AZ), Santa Fe West Hills (CA), Tejon Hounds (CA), and Red Rock (NV). Hunt with Red Rock again as they move to their Montana hunting country in April, and finally with the Cloudline Hounds (TX) to conclude the season.

Just consider the geography! There is arguably no other foxhunting continent in the world that offers the variety of scenery, climate, and vegetation as can be experienced in North America. And, once again, your hosts will be offering the very warmest of hospitality. Keep checking the official schedule, since more hunts may be added and dates may be changed.

Regional Joint Meets
Joint Meet Chairman Leslie Rhett Crosby, MFH of the Mooreland Hunt (AL) has organized seven regional joint meets at this writing for Hark Forward adventurers. You are invited to joint meets at Chagrin Valley Hunt (OH) and Rose Tree-Blue Mountain Hunt (PA) in September. Genesee Valley (NY) plans a joint meet in October. Belle Meade and Tennessee Valley have organized a joint meet in February, followed later in the month by joint meets at Mooreland (AL) and at the Live Oak Hounds (FL). Finally, a joint meet in March has been scheduled by North Hills/Mission Valley/Fort Leavenworth Hunts (KS).   

sheila brown.tammie monaco.croppedHunter Trial Chairman Sheila Jackson Brown, MFH  / Tammie Monaco photoField Hunter Trials
In addition to the two independently-sponsored annual national hunter trial competitions—the Theodora Randolph Field Hunter Championship and the Junior North American Field Hunter Championships—four more field hunter trials for the upcoming season have been organized by Hunter Trial Chairman Sheila Jackson Brown, MFH, Green Spring Valley Hounds (MD).

If you believe your field hunter is deserving of recognition, you can start in September at the Green Spring Valley Hounds (MD) Hunter Trials. In October, choose among the Misty Morning Hunt (FL) Hunter Trials or the Whiskey Road Foxhounds (SC) Hunter Trials. A Championship Field Hunter Trial for the overall season will be held in November at a venue not yet specified.

AAEA Art Show
Next spring, as a bonus unrelated to the Hark Forward programs, the American Academy of Equine Artists will present a show of contemporary foxhunting art during the Virginia Foxhound Show weekend. Arranged in concert with the Virginia Foxhound Club and the Museum of Hounds and Hunting, selected member artists of the AAEA have been organized by Academy President Booth Malone to produce a body of artwork, which will hang at Morven Park in Leesburg. Every hunt in Virginia will be represented with at least one or more works at the show.

In all, a gala season is planned. Join foxhunting friends in doing the things you love, experience new hunting countries, follow new packs, and make new friends. Hark Forward!

Posted July 11, 2017