Memorial Day weekend and the Virginia Foxhound Show marked the beginning of a year of education for the MFHA's 2018-2019 Professional Development Program. Under the guidance of Andrew Barclay, the geographically diverse participants were invited to apprentice judge at Morven Park, to tour area kennels, and to get the know the MFHA office and website. Covertside Online will follow the class through the year as they share their new experiences. This month, we asked Clare Marie Pinney of Cedar Knob Hounds (TN), to answer a few questions about her busy initial weekend.

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Pinney, at right, watches American ring judge Jake Carle, ex-MFH, evaluate an entry. M. Drum photo.

Covertside Online: What were the two or three highlights of this weekend? 

Pinney: Learning to judge at the VA Hound Show was an amazing opportunity. There were many positive experiences but I must say the best one was how willing each judge was to teach us, and to ask our opinions. I was very lucky to spend all day in the rings.

Secondly, the opportunity to see different types of hounds. I am predominantly a Penn-Marydel girl, so getting to spend time with American, English and Crossbred hounds was enlightening.

Also being able to observe the judging of the pack class was great. I learnt so much about this class, and what the judges are looking for that I am looking to compete in my first pack class at Kimberton Hound Show this year.

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Piedmont Fox Hounds (VA) huntsman Jordan Hicks, left, talks to the PDP class.

Covertside Online: What surprised you, or in what area did you learn the most during the day in the rings?

Pinney: I had never been to the VA Hound Show before, so I expected it to be extremely intimidating. I was surprised how friendly everyone was, and how each person I spoke to was enthusiastic about the PDP, and was happy that we were there to receive training. My favorite ring was the PMD ring. I learnt so much there, including conformation, movement, show ring stance and presentation of the hound (I may have spent a bit longer there than most!!!)

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The participants learned about the importance of efficient kennel design at Green Spring Valley (MD).

Covertside Online: What kennel details impressed you the most during your tours?

Pinney: The nutritional/health information that each huntsman gave us was very interesting. Each huntsman fed different feed. Some kibble only, some tripe/kibble mix and some flesh and kibble. The different areas of the country seem to dictate what can be fed but the detail that goes into ensuring each hound has adequate feed and health care was very good to see, and compare to our regime at home.

Some of the facilities are fairly new and large. The efficiency of the layout of the newer kennels was great to see.

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Howard County-Iron Bridge (MD) was another educational stop on the kennel tour.

Covertside Online: Were the tours helpful for you as up and coming hunt staff? Just hearing from the huntsmen themselves as well as seeing the facilities?

Pinney: Talking to each huntsman and their staff and Masters was the best part of the tour. Each huntsman brought good advice and everyone was extremely friendly. My favorite tour was at the Piedmont Hunt (VA) kennel. Here huntsman Jordan Hicks allowed us to walk out with him. I learnt more here because I was able to observe a huntsman I previously had not met engage with his pack. I took advice from Jordan back to our kennel, and was able to make progress with a new entry that I had been having issues with. Two weeks after the tour and he is walking with the pack with no problems!

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The opportunity to tour various kennels, here Old Dominion Hounds (VA) was appreciated by the six classmates, who hail from Nevada to New Hampshire.

I think that the trip to MFHA headquarters to learn about the computer system was really important. I can now work the system easily and I understand how to read each data entry.
Spending time with Andrew was a bonus. He has so many great stories and is such a great mentor. He is very easy to talk to and genuinely wants us all to succeed.

Thank you to David Twiggs and his family for having us for lunch, Billie-Jo for teaching us the computer system, the judges for being so enthusiastic and helpful, and finally to my classmates, Mary Taylor, Brian, Ashley, Raina, and Rachel, thank you for being such a fun group. I hope to continue my learning throughout the year and eventually be able to give back to the PDP in the future.

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