MFHA President Tony Leahy and the Fox River Valley/Massbach Hounds hosted the kick-off Performance Trial on the Hark Forward Tour in their western Illinois hunting country on September 16 and 17, 2017.
By the time it was over, everyone took home a renewed appreciation for the hard work and knowhow it takes to make and maintain a good hunting pack of foxhounds. Certainly the fact that littermates brought up by different hunts and trained by different staffs, rose like cream to the top of the scoring is convincing proof that breeding matters! Next stop on the tour is Millbrook, New York.
The Brits must be getting used to this. Teach the Yanks something worthwhile, like foxhunting, and they go ahead and change it. They did it first with the foxhound. A braggart named Harry Worcester Smith came along at the beginning of the twentieth century with his long-eared, mouthy, hare-footed hounds, and claimed they were better than ours! He put together a Great Hound Match and tried to prove it. We spent two hundred years developing the perfect model of what a foxhound should look like, and then along came another American named Ikey Bell who started another revolution. And just twenty years ago—yesterday in the proper scheme of things—a couple of rebels named Ben Hardaway and Mason Lampton started painting numbers on foxhounds. Whatever for?
Hillsboro Hounds (TN) huntsman Johnnie Gray sidestepped his usual protocol and made a breeding decision that turned out quite well. Two years ago in the show rings his own hounds came up against Midland Striker a few times, and Johnnie liked the yet un-entered Midland dog hound. Before sending a bi*ch* out to be bred, however, Johnnie’s practice is first to see the potential sire in the hunting field so he knows that it hunts well. At that point, no one had yet seen Striker in the hunting field.
“I didn’t want to take a chance and wait another year—who knows what might happen?—and I knew Striker’s sire and dam were good hunting hounds. The bi*ch I wanted to breed was Warwickshire Daylight 2012. There was no question about her hunting ability, so I went ahead and sent her to Striker at Midland.”
Midland Striker 2015 was judged Grand Champion Foxhound at the 2017 Bryn Mawr Hound Show on Saturday, June 3, 2017.
Bryn Mawr is the one that got away from Striker last year. In 2016, this graceful moving, handsome Crossbred dog hound had a big year in the ring. He was judged Grand Champion at the Virginia Foxhound Show and at the Southern Hound Show. But the hat trick at Bryn Mawr wasn’t to be his. Now, Striker can add the Bryn Mawr notch to his collar.
The Grand Championship class for the coveted William W. Brainard, Jr. Perpetual Cup at the Virginia Foxhound Show finally got underway at around six p.m. It’s always an exciting class, despite the late hour on a day, May 28, 2017, that started at 9:00 a.m. for five hundred hounds and participants representing seventy hunts. Thunderstorms had struck towns all over Virginia from noontime on, but hardly a raindrop fell in Leesburg.
Four magnificent foxhounds walked out with their handlers: English, American, Crossbred, and Penn-Marydel Champions. Now they would vie for the Grand Championship of Show. Each of the four, after vanquishing all other hounds through the long day of winnowing, were obviously superb representatives of their respective breeds. In this observers view, absent any serious and previously undetected flaws in conformation, it would be a test of movement—that free-flowing, ground-covering, shock-absorbing, athletic, and energetic stride that tells the judge, “I can keep doing this day after day, year after year.”