Fox Hunting Life with Horse and Hound

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Fox Hounds

How the Experts Judge a Class of Foxhounds

souther17.hillsboro godfreyHillsboro Godfrey 2016 was last year’s Grand Champion at the Southern Hound Show, hosted by the Live Oak Hounds (FL) / Leslie Shepherd photo

With the foxhunting season closing, and a new season of hound and puppy shows approaching, I always determine to improve my eye for a hound by judging from ringside just for fun. I would encourage any foxhunter to try it. The exercise not only makes the day more interesting, but educational as well. Especially when you can collar a friendly judge after the class and ask him why he didn’t like the hound you adored, or why he picked a hound you thought was ordinary.

It can be intimidating when you watch a procession of foxhounds enter and leave the ring and wonder how in the world the judge can sort them all out. For example, how does he compare a hound he is looking at to one he saw ten minutes ago? I have asked, and it seems there are almost as many methods as there are judges.

Moore County Hound Trials: Report From the Field

 lori and karen“He’s hunted twice; let’s take him to the Field Trial.” Author Lori Brunnen in the foreground, riding Sunny. Saved from the abattoir, he took to the hunting field like a veteran. Karen Miller accompanies Lori.  /   Amy Gesell photo

Since last year I have been trying to hunt with George Harne’s private Maryland pack, the Last Chance Hounds. This season I finally managed one day out with them and had a great morning, despite having Frankie’s bridle slip off, falling flat rectifying it, and finally being dragged a ways on my stomach. At least I did not let go. It was kindly described at breakfast as being “seventy-five percent elegant.” This is a small, close-knit group, and I felt lucky to have been able to join them.

Shortly after this outing I learned that friend Karen Miller was accompanying them to the Moore County Hound Performance Trial, an MFHA Hark Forward event in North Carolina the second weekend in October. We agreed to drive down together. The six hounds entered were traveling with huntsman Lisa Reid and whipper-in Marie LaBaw. Master George Harne was driving down with his friend, Roy Good, leaving at 1:30 Friday morning because George said he would be “too excited to sleep” anyway. Lisa and Marie were leaving at 4:30 Friday morning. Despite the fact that the first trial event was not until 4:00 pm Friday, Karen and I simultaneously agreed we were leaving at “10 o’clock Thursday morning.” No getting up in the dark unless absolutely necessary. This is an annual trip for the group but the first Performance Trial for Karen and me. We were stoked.

Foxhounds from Five Hunts Compete at Beautiful Millbrook

nancy stahl.kkandra.croppedNancy Stahl, MFH, and her Joint Masters Parker Gentry and Lelee Brandt welcomed visitors to the gorgeous Millbrook country and made certain everyone was happy to be there. /  Karen Kandra Wenzel photo

Foxhounds from five hunts faced off for the second Performance Trial of the Hark Forward season. The trials were hosted by the Millbrook Hunt in their scenic and mountainous country in the Hudson River valley of New York State, just ten miles west of the Connecticut border, ninety miles north of New York City.

Hounds met on Monday and Tuesday, September 25 and 26, 2017 under conditions reminiscent of mid-summer rather than the early days of autumn. Temperatures rose well into the eighties on both days as riders sweltered and hounds struggled to find quarry in the usually productive coverts. Yet hounds worked as a veteran pack and displayed outstanding work during their brief moments of action.

Each competing hunt had selected the seven-and-a-half couples of hounds from their kennels to best represent them. The thirty-seven-and-a-half couples of proven hounds melded quickly into a single pack (more about that later), reflecting positively on every huntsman: Bart Poole from the Essex Fox Hounds (NJ); Marion Thorne, Genesee Valley Hunt (NY); Codie Hayes, Golden’s Bridge Hounds (NY); Don Philhower, Millbrook Hunt; and Sean Cully, Rose Tree-Blue Mountain Hounds (PA).

Fell Hounds Shine at Bull Run-Rappahannock Hound Trial

IMG 2539kIn the Bull Run country east of the Blue Ridge Mountains with trial huntsman Epp Wilson (left), judges, and pack. /  Gretchen Pelham photo

It was a top-three sweep, not only for English fell bloodlines, but for one Cumbrian hunt in particular. When the recent Bull Run-Rappahannock Foxhound Performance Trials concluded in Virginia over the weekend of October 19–21, 2017, the three top-scoring hounds were either sired by or whelped out of fell hounds from the Ullswater Foxhounds (UK). And three different Ullswater hounds at that.

Another hound finishing in the top ten was also whelped out of an Ullswater hound. At the center of this story is professional huntsman John Harrison, currently in his first season hunting the foxhounds of the Deep Run Hunt.