When the opportunity arises to attend the Virginia Foxhound Show, be sure to say yes.
This show is a great honor for any amateur, professional or observer. Put on by the Virginia Foxhound Club, and is held at Morven Park. The magnificent venue under the old oak trees, the opportunity to make new friends and re-acquaint with old ones and the display of the best foxhounds from hunts across the United States and Canada make this an event not to be missed.
Looking around during the show, a feeling of being transported in time comes upon you. Bloodlines that reach back hundreds of years, white coats, judges in shirts and ties (and dresses). It’s a very quiet event, no loudspeakers or music. Just a large group of people, and lots and lots of foxhounds. The peacefulness is broken only by the cheers of the crowd when their favorite is pinned, or by a ruckus back at the kennels, which can either be the baying or the singing of the hounds. I always amuse myself when I can hear the hounds that they are calling out to their huntsman… PLEASE TAKE ME TO THE RING I’M READY!!
There is a keen sense of competition underlying the friendships all hunts make with one another. There are always the prestigious packs that place well, but the whoop that arises from the crowd when a lesser known entrant wins is amazing.
Participating in the show is a great honor for both amateurs and professionals. It’s also an opportunity for masters and huntsmen to see hounds they might like to breed to for a certain missing link in their current pack. Whether bloodlines, confirmation, bidability, additional gene pools or any other areas where their pack needs reinforcement, that type of hound will be at the Virginia Hound Show. Not only can a huntsman actually see the hound, they have the chance to speak to the person that actually bred the hound, discuss why they bred to the line in the first place and, by far the most important criteria, how the hound actually hunts.
Standing ’em up
One of the most significant highlights of the day are the Junior Handler Classes. Looking down the oak lined lane watching the young handlers prepare to enter reminds me of a Norman Rockwell painting ?
The two classes are arranged by age and are some of the most competitive and highly attended classes of the day.
In the ring
The weekend also features an evening dinner which gives everyone a chance to socialize before the show. The cocktail party and dinner are held on the lawn of the “Davis Mansion”, a 22 room Greek revival home whose last residents were the Honorable Mr. and Mrs. Westmoreland Davis, the 55th Governor of Virginia. The highlight of the evening is the horn blowing championship, in which most huntsmen participate. It’s wonderful to hear the different horns and styles of each competitor, and I’m always happy that I don’t have to be the judge.
Horn Blowing Contestants
After the show there is yet another party to discuss results and congratulate the winners. Then, sadly, it’s time for everyone to pack up, load up and trailer on back home to begin planning for the next season. After all there are new (and old) entry to walk, trails to clear, coops to build, breedings to plan and many other tasks too numerous to mention.
I’ll be looking forward to seeing you at the show in 2016. It will be here before we know it.
- Joan – (on behalf of Middleburg Photo)
Joan Strahler is a blogger, social media, public relations, website and IT consultant based in Leesburg, VA. An avid equestrian, hunter and dog lover, she spends as much time as possible at the kennels. email@example.com