Fox Hunting Life with Horse and Hound

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FHL wants your hunt reports! Stories and photos. Submit yours here.

Performance Trial a Home Run at Mission Valley

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).

The Westmeath Foxhounds at Streamstown

westmeath hounds and staff.mullinsWestmeath Foxhounds (IR) and staff: huntsman Mark Ollard (rt) and whipper-in Adam Douabbse. John Smith and Frano Derwin follow / Noel Mullins photo

The Westmeath Foxhounds, located in the Midlands of Ireland, was founded in 1854. It has had many illustrious Masters over the years such as Sam Reynell (1835-91), the Earls of Longford (1890s), Hon. Kieran Guinness (1973-76), Sir Dermot and Lady Molly Cusack Smith (1949-50), and Harry Worcester Smith (1912-13) from the USA (no relation to Sir Dermot).

Smith wanted to prove that American hounds and Thoroughbred horses could handle the Irish hunting country as well as the native horses and hounds. He was disappointed on both counts. First, the Westmeath hunt committee insisted he hunt the local pack, and second, though he was a brave and competent rider, he notched over fifty falls off his Thoroughbred horses in the course of the season!

A Red Letter Day at Live Oak

spencer allen.and staffHuntsman Spencer Allen with the LIve Oak foxhounds, accompanied by whipper-in Alexandra Taber and kennel huntsman Sam Andrews.  /  Leslie Ballenger photo

Marty’s Weather Channel said no way but my Weather Bug gave me hope, and hope springs eternal! It looked highly likely that we might have to cancel due to heavy rain and possible thunderstorms, but, never wanting to cancel unless totally necessary, the call was made at 5:30 a.m. to go for it.

We were in the saddle at 8:30 and headed for the Dip Vat. What a shame, as it turned out, that so many were put off by the weather prediction of three inches of rain, to have only two in the field—Cameron and David Reid. “Small field, good hunt” could not have been more true!

Farmington Accepts the Inevitable, Adds New Quarry

farmington.matthew.summersProfessional huntsman Matthew Cook and hounds of the Farmington Hunt (VA). / Cathy Summers photo

On a hot midsummer afternoon, huntsman Matthew Cook rode up to meet me on a green John Deere lawn mower. Cutting grass is just part of the work it takes to maintain the grounds and kennels at the Farmington Hunt Club (VA), home to sixty noisy, rambunctious foxhounds.

Coming to Farmington in the summer of 2013 from the Los Altos Hunt in northern California, Cook faced a new set of challenges, both in topography and local culture. He was learning his new job in the shadow of the forty-year reign of the revered Jill Summers, MFH, whose practice and policy of hunting only foxes laid the foundation for Farmington’s hounds. The pack was bred and trained to ignore anything non-vulpine.