Virginia Hound Show 2012: A big day for Iroquois hounds!

The HAs picking up a trophy at the Virginia Hound Show on Sunday.

What a day for the Iroquois Hunt’s English hounds! The houndbloggers were not in attendance this year at the Virginia Foxhound Show, but we got updates throughout the day from the English ring, where our hounds showed–and we’re pleased to say they brought home some of the silver! The show draws some 800 hounds from across North America, a real feast for the hound lover’s eyes. If you’ve never been, we encourage you to attend next year! For the complete list of results from the 2012 show, click here.

We’ve been following the HA puppies since their birth (and they were born, auspiciously enough, just before Blessing Day in 2010, when the annual Blessing of the Hounds kicks off the formal hunt season). They are sons and daughters of two hounds we imported from the Cottesmore in England, the doghound Hawkeye and the bitch Baffle, who also is the dam of our much-vaunted BA litter. The HAs have matured into an exceptionally regal group, and the houndbloggers had high hopes for this pride of young lions, who will join the hunting pack this coming fall.

Hawkeye (left) and his sons in the class they won, English stallion hound and three of his get. Photo by Nancy Milburn Kleck Equine-Sporting Artist.

Perhaps the most notable victory of the day was Hawkeye’s in the class for stallion hound and three get. Shown alongside his sons Halo, Hawksbridge, and Hanbury in front of judge Henry Berkeley from the Berkeley Hunt, Hawkeye scooped the trophy from a highly competitive class that also featured Live Oak Maximus, the Virginia Foxhound Show’s grand champion foxhound back in 2010, just a few months before the HAs were whelped. Hawkeye’s win is a big thumbs-up for the Iroquois Hunt’s breeding program, which already has seen success from the BA litter, Baffle’s first for us, on the hunt field.

Baffle and the HA pups back in the day.

Some of the hounds and volunteers taking pre-show exercise Sunday at Morven Park, scene of the prestigious Virginia Foxhound Show.

We’ll have to wait until fall to see how the HA puppies perform on the hunt field, but here’s how they did in Virginia:

Halo won his single doghound-unentered class. Hanbury was third in this class.

Halo and Hanbury came back to win the couple of dogs-unentered class, and Hardboot and Hawksbridge finished second to them.

HaloHawksbridgeHardboot, and Hanbury, all unentered, won their two couple of doghounds-entered or unentered class.

Thanks to his victory in the unentered doghound class, Halo moved on to the unentered championship against the day’s top unentered bitch and placed second, making him the show’s reserve champion unentered hound.

A bath before the big day.

To see the HAs cover some ground, see the video below, taken in January at Boone Valley. A video from February is here.

Another winner at Virginia was Samson, our entered red-and-white doghound who is a big asset on the hunt field and the sire of our new BO litter out of Bonsai. He won his English stallion hound class, then came back to place third with Edie in the junior handlers’ class! We think Samson’s puppywalker in England, Nina Camm, will be especially thrilled with that news! To see Samson’s baby pictures that she sent us, click here.  To see our adventures bringing the very talkative Samson and Hawkeye with us by air from England (where they hunted with the Cottesmore) to Kentucky, click here. Yes, it was worth it!

The likeable red-and-white Samson, photographed in 2010.

In the afternoon’s bitch classes, another member of the HA litter, Hackle, finished second in the unentered bitch class, and Havoc finished third. This pair of Hackle and Havoc also finished second in the couple of bitches-unentered class. Dragonfly, a North Cotswold import and the mother of our famous doghoundasaurus Driver, placed second for the second consecutive year in the brood bitch class. To see a video of her (and the other Iroquois hounds) in action at last year’s Virginia Hound Show, click here. Dragonfly is at about the 2:20 mark.

Another houndblogger favorite, the powerful North Cotswold import Banker, also finished third in his class, the entered doghound class that Samson won.

Dragonfly, Driver’s mother, picked up a second in the English brood bitch class.

Banker at his first meet in Kentucky back in October 2010.

We understand that the Iroquois joint-Masters Jerry Miller and Jack van Nagell, huntsman Lilla Mason, kennel manager Michael Edwards, and the passel of hound volunteers led by Cice Bowers arrived back at the hotel exhausted but understandably pleased with the day’s results.

Iroquois joint-Master Jerry Miller does the honors. A toast to the Iroquois hounds and their supporters!

We know how much work went into making this day happen, and the hounds’ success was richly deserved. Congratulations, everyone, and safe home!

Puppy Show! Behind the scenes at the Berkeley Hunt

The Berkeley Hunt, one of England's most renowned packs. The Masters and hunt staff wear yellow coats with green collars, which represent the indoor and outdoor liveries of the Berkeley family.

The Berkeley Hunt, one of England's most renowned packs. The Masters and hunt staff wear yellow coats with green collars, which represent the historic indoor and outdoor liveries of the Berkeley family. Photo courtesy of Sarah Jones and the Berkeley Hunt.

Hunt season might not start until the fall, but midsummer is plenty busy for working foxhound packs. One highlight of the season: the annual puppy show, when hunts parade their new entry for judges and local landowners, taking the occasion to thank the puppy-walkers who have helped raise those hounds in their own homes before returning them to the kennels for hunt training.

We’ve found an excellent depiction both of puppy-walking and the puppy show tradition in England, thanks to Great Britain’s wonderful Horse and Country television channel.

VIDEO LINK: For the moment, we’re having trouble embedding the video directly here, but until we solve that issue you can easily view the episode at http://www.horseandcountry.tv/episode/berkeley-english-country-estate-episode-5 Note that there is a short ad for Horse and Country at the beginning, which might make you think you’ve gotten the wrong show. You haven’t!

Horse and Country has been following activities at Berkeley Castle in Gloucestershire, home of the Berkeley Hunt, in a series of documentaries. The Berkeley’s pack is one of the best in the world and is England’s oldest, dating back to the 12th century. Much of Horse and Country’s documentary series on Berkeley Castle deals with the estate’s care, daily life, and renovations, but the pack gets some good airtime! Episode Five covers the puppy-walkers and the puppy show in good detail and offers lots of beautiful scenery–both canine and countryside–to boot.

The Berkeley hounds today hark back to the oldest bloodlines in England, as described at the hunt’s website:

There are 6 main male lines in existence, 4 of which can be found in the Berkeley kennel. The 6 main roots are Mr Meynall’s Stormer 1791, The Earl of Yarborough’s Bumper 1743, Lord Darlington’s Benedict 1812, Glog Nimrod 1904, The Earl of Scarborough’s Saladin 1830 and Geilligaer Topper 1916. In the Foxhound world most will have heard of the celebrated Tiverton Actor 1922. He is a descendant of The Earl of Yarborough’s Bumper 1743 whose line is the oldest in the Foxhound Kennel studbook. Berkeley is full of Actor blood going back through Duke of Beaufort Ardent 1930. This line is a great example of how careful line breeding can produce superlative progeny with plenty of drive and longevity.

With such a long history, it’s no surprise the Berkeley family has some colorful characters. One who has left behind some fun sporting stories is the Hon. George Charles Grantley Fitzhardinge Berkeley, youngest son of the 5th Earl of Berkeley. He resided for much of his hunting career in Buckinghamshire, where he hunted both stag and fox. He was also, as one biographer put it, “a well-known if somewhat eccentric member of society.” Grantley Berkeley’s mode of dress alone, which Herbert Maxwell called “a coarser kind of buckish coxcombry,” was attention-grabbing: “He delighted in wearing  at the same time two or three different-colored satin under-waistcoats, and round his throat three or four gaudy silk neckerchiefs, held together by passing the ends of them through a gold ring.”

However odd his wardrobe, Berkeley knew hounds. In 1854, he published Reminiscences of a Huntsman, chock full of amazing stories from the hunt field. An example from his stag-hunting adventures:

The chase … frequently ended in mansions, cottages, or barns, and I cannot help but saying that, in almost every instance, I met with the greatest good nature. On one of these occasions we ran up to the entrance of a gentleman’s kitchen, in the rear of his premises, and the hounds bayed at the closed door. Heads of domestics through the pantry window informed me that the stag was in the house, and that they would admit me ‘if I would keep the dogs out, as the children were afraid of them.’ The door being opened and closed carefully behind me, I went in, ushered by a butler, and peeped at by many maids; and, on asking where the stag was, the butler replied that he had been in all the lower offices, and when he last saw him he was going up the drawing-room stairs. … The butler introduced me to the drawing-room, but neither master nor stag were in it, when at that moment a door at the other end opened, and the owner of the house came in, under visible though suppressed excitement. I began all sorts of apologies, as usual, and for a moment the gentleman was civil enough. But on my asking where the stag was, all restraint gave way, and in a fury he replied, ‘Your stag, sir, not content with walking through every office, has been here, sir, here in my drawing-room, sir, whence he proceeded upstairs to the nursery, and, damn me, sir, he’s now in Mrs. ——-‘s boudoir!'”

Grantley Berkeley formed his own first pack at the age of 30 in the Bedfordshire country by receiving older hounds drafted from notable hunts. One of his favorite early hounds was Stamford, whose provenance he couldn’t quite remember by the time he wrote of him many years later: “Old Stamford’s soft and prolonged note, when he found a fox, sweeps by my ear now: and often and often had I to cheer the young ones to him throughout my first fox-hunting season. What he must have been in his youth … I can easily guess; and if these pages meet the eye of the gentleman who bred him, he will accept this tribute to the memory of as gallant, as sensible, and as attached and faithful a hound as ever killed a fox.  … I shall never forget how proud that old hound was when he found I petted him, and that he was still to be treated with all the ceremony and usages of a well-ordered foxhound kennel. And when we began cub-hunting, his alert dignity and industry was so great that he still more won my heart.”

This respect for a hound’s work ethic is key to the breeding  today at the Berkeley Hunt, which says “looks come second to performance, for a good-looking hound is nothing if it cannot hunt.”

For more information about the Berkeley Hunt and its hounds, view the hunt’s history page, which details both the hunt’s background and its breeding philosophy.