This past weekend was the Southwest Hound Show hosted by Brazos Valley Hounds. I had the pleasure of being the show secretary and was able to snap a few photos during the day. It was kind of terribly cold after having been nice and warm leading up to show day, so I’m still recovering from being an ice cube for eight hours!
A handler showing an American Hound. I’d be lying if I tried to act like I know much about hound conformation. Different judges look at different characteristics more closely based on their preferences. The judge this year hunts a pack of mostly American Foxhounds, therefore he was more inclined to like an American hound’s characteristics as opposed to a Crossbred or English hound’s characteristics.
A group of American hounds. You can see the overcast skies that stuck around pretty much all. Day. Long. The sun peaked out a bit after the showing was over. American hounds are a generally bit taller than their Crossbred/English cousins and have a more substantial front end. Keep in mind, though, that each huntsman breeds specifically for the terrain where the hounds hunt and the quarry they hunt. Thus the differences between packs can be great even if they are the same “breed”.
The Junior Showman class is always a favorite. We only had one exhibitor this year, but he was adorable and his hound was very well behaved!
The contest for Best Hound of the show was very competitive and the judge took his time to evaluate the merits of both the Champion American Hound and the Champion Crossbred/English Hound.
In the end Brazos Valley Precious prevailed as both Champion American Hound and Master’s Cup Champion Hound! I am very biased towards this lovely hound as she is the granddaughter of Brazos Valley Catfish who is in retirement at my house.
Fort Leavenworth’s Valor was a top quality competitor and was awarded Reserve Champion Hound and Champion Crossbred/English Foxhound. This hound is a progeny of a Brazos Valley bloodline, so it was extra fun that both top hounds were results of the Brazos Valley breeding program!
Hound shows are a wonderful way to meet other like-minded folks who love the sport of foxhunting and breeding and raising foxhounds. We really enjoyed chatting with and competing against the other hunts who attended the show. Next up the Brazos Valley hounds will head to Kansas and then finish their show season in Virginia.
Tis the season for hound shows and last weekend I helped put on the Southwest Hound Show here in Texas. I should start with a disclaimer that I am very much a novice when it comes to hound shows. I’ve only been to a handful of shows and they have all been in Texas. Every year I learn a little bit more about the hounds and what judges look for. Having grown up showing Quarter Horses I have a very basic understanding of conformation (hounds really aren’t THAT different from horses, right?!) and my experience actually watching the hounds hunt has added some understanding to my basics. But they remain very basic basics.
The SW Hound Show has two categories of hounds that are shown; Americans and Crossbreds. Generally the American hounds are a little stalkier than the Crossbreds. That is about the extent of my knowledge of their differences. Mind you there are many differences between hounds of the same breed dependent upon the territory they are bred to hunt and what quarry (fox vs coyote). The classes are also split between dogs (males) and bitches (females). The announcer had quite a good time announcing the bitches’ classes.
“Bring all your American Bitches to the ring”
Different judges have different preferences and the judge for this show seemed to prefer the leaner hounds. As with any type of “judging” it is very difficult to stay consistent all the time and at times he wavered from his pattern of choosing the leaner hounds, but even my novice self caught on to this preference. I don’t recall if he gave a full explanation, but I would venture to guess it has something to do with what his hounds look like and what is their quarry. He is from a hunt in Virginia that exclusively hunts foxes. In Texas we generally hunt coyotes.
Showing American Hounds
The judge looks over the hounds as they walk around the show ring, then each handler brings their hound to the center of the ring to show them to the judge. This involves both standing up the hound to judge the conformation as well as to have the hound run back and forth on the boards to judge their movement. Correct structure, straight movement, no major lumps and bumps are all important. The biggest difference between the hound shows and “other” dog shows I’ve been to is that the hounds are working dogs. They don’t get baths or have their nails clipped before the show. Many of them have scars and scratches from disagreements in the kennel or excitement on a hunt. This is probably my favorite thing about the hound shows. These hounds are for reals. One of the officers from the Masters of Foxhounds Association was at the show and he told us at dinner one night that 2 of the top 5 sled dog packs at last year’s Iditarod had fox hound blood in them. Fox hounds are badasses.
The judge evaluating a dog hound
I would be remiss if I left out the Junior Showmanship class. Can you imagine anything cuter?!
All the Junior Showmen and girls were winners!
Last, but certainly not least, was the pack class. This is where the huntsman gets to show off how well his or her hounds respond to commands. The hounds are taken into an open area and are judged entirely on following commands. It is absolutely delightful to watch the trust and admiration the hounds all have for their huntsman. The huntsman has the assistance of one whipper-in (basically one other person to help keep them contained). At this show they took the hounds down to a designated spot then returned to the judge. What a beautiful way to end a lovely day. I’m sad I won’t make it to the big hound show at Morven Park in Virginia this year, but hopefully next year it’ll fit into my vacation plans.
The pack at work